How long should a CV be? Your CV questions answered

April 03 2016 , 0 Comments

Writing your CV can be tricky when you're not sure of the guidelines and common practices.

How long should a CV be?

What do employers look for?

What font should I use?

The list goes on...

So we've compiled the 11 most common CV questions that customers ask us here at StandOut CV and put them into this handy infographic to help you write an interview-winning CV.

How long should a CV be and more CV questions

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Your CV questions answered

If you want to write a high impact CV that impresses recruiters and secures interviews with the best employers, then it's important to clear any doubts you may have about the process.

We've collated the most common CV questions that we are asked, to help you fill any knowledge gaps you may have.


Q. How long should a CV be?

A. Around 2 pages of A4

Recruiters are and employers tend to be very busy and will often read hundreds of CVs every week.

For this reason, you should try to make your CV a quick and easy read for them.

2 pages of A4 is about the right length to be able to hold their attention whilst communicating all of your skills and experience.

Don't panic though - it's not a set-in-stone rule and you won't be instantly rejected if you your CV goes a little under or over 2 pages.


Q. What do employers look for in a CV?

A. Your ability to perform their role

When a recruiter or employer reads your CV, they have one question on their mind;

"Can this person do the job?"

In order to prove this to them, your CV needs to show that you have the necessary skills, knowledge and experience required to carry out their vacant role.

In order to find out what employers want, you must do your research before you write your CV.

Take a look at plenty of job adverts for the types of roles you are planning to apply for and take note of the most important requirements.

Then ensure that you are highlighting those requirements in your CV to show employers that you are suited to their vacancies.


Q. What font should I use on my CV?

A. Any clean and simple font

Your CV needs to be clear and concise with a professional outlook so choose a font that is clean and easy to read.

Avoid using anything too elaborate as it will cause headaches for recruiters when they are trying to read it.


Q. Should I include a photo on my CV?

A. No

Unless you are applying for an acting or modelling job, you don’t need to include a photograph in your CV.

Photos take up valuable space that could be used better by filling it with compelling reasons why an employer should hire you.


Q. Do I include all of my experience in my CV?

A. Ideally, yes - with some exceptions 

For completeness and transparency, you should include all of your experience ideally.

However, there are some cases where you can shorten or even omit experience

Exception 1 - If you are an experienced candidate then you don't need to include lots of detail in your older roles from years ago. Summarise older roles in one or two lines because employers will be focusing on your recent employment.

Exception 2 - If you have a really short role that is completely irrelevant to the field your applying to, then it's OK to omit it.

For example, if you are applying for job as a school teacher and you previously had a one week temp job as a courier, then it's OK to leave that out.


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Q. Should I include my date of birth on my CV?

A. No

Your age or date of birth are irrelevant to the recruitment process so there is no need to include either in your CV.

Also your date of birth is an important confidential detail that can be used against you by identify thieves - so it's best not to include it on a document that you will be circulating online.


Q. Should I hide gaps in employment on my CV?

A. No

If you do have long periods of unemployment, then it's best to be up front and mention them in your CV.

Try to explain the gaps with constructive content such as personal projects, volunteering, travelling etc. to show that you've been pro-active and kept yourself busy


Q. Should I include my interests on my CV?

A. Only if they will add value to your application 

Hobbies or interests are an optional section to your CV, so you only need to include them if they will add value to your application.

For example, if you are applying for web developer jobs and you happen to build websites in your spare time, then it's worth including that particular interest.

Also, if you're a junior candidate with little experience then sometimes your interests can be used to demonstrate skills that your work experience may lack. For example, if you've captained a sports team, that can be a great way to show leadership skills.


Q. Do I need to send a cover letter with my CV?

A. Yes

You should always send a cover letter or introductory note when applying for a job in order to convince the recruiter to open your CV.

Luckily you don't need to send a whole page of A4 these days; a short and sharp message of one or two sentences should suffice.

You just need to include enough information to show that you have some relevant skills and knowledge to perform the job.


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Q. Should I include references on my CV?

A. No

Employers will not need to contact your references until after they have made you an offer, so there is no need to waste space on your CV by including reference details.

Also some less scrupulous recruiters may attempt to contact your referees to pitch their services which could be damaging for your relationships.


Q. What if I have no experience?

A. Be creative 

If you are a recent school leaver, or just have no direct work experience in the field that you are applying to then you just need to use a bit of creativity and highlight experience and transferable skills from other areas.

You can draw on anything from school/college/university projects to voluntary work or training courses and more.

If you really don't have any relevant skills or experience for the roles you are applying to, then the simple answer is to go and get some.

There are a few ways you can pick up relevant skills and experience for your CV quickly.

  • Training courses and qualifications - Even before you've finished the course or achieved the qualification, you can still add the fact that you're working towards them on your CV and mention some of the skills you are learning.
  • Volunteering - Contact some relevant businesses and offer your services for free, many small businesses will be grateful for the help and you can pick up some great experience to add straight your CV.
  • Freelancing - Sign up for a freelancing site like Peopleperhour, set up a profile and you can start working on a wide range of freelance projects to build up your experience and portfolio.


If you have any more questions about CV writing, please feel free to ask in the comments section below.

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