‘Should my CV be one or two pages?’ is perhaps the number one question we get asked at LSE Careers at this time of year. Those of you who would like a definitive answer to your question may not be too happy with our response ‘it depends’! But that’s the thing about CVs – there simply isn’t a definitive ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to do it. Having said that, everyone has an opinion so it’s no wonder people get confused! It’s all about what’s most appropriate to your own situation. The same holds true for the ‘one page or two?’ question.
Here we offer two simple steps to help provide some clarity:
1. Understand the requirements of the country and industry that you’re applying to
- There are ‘norms’ around CV length that you need to be aware of. Investment banks have a reputation for only accepting one page. This holds true for many, but even here there are exceptions.
- Contrary to LSE myth, many consultancies and industry sectors are happy to receive or indeed expect to see a two page CV. For example, Shell often rejects one page CVs as they simply don’t provide enough evidence of the competencies they are looking for.
- If you’re unsure, check with the organisation you’re applying to.
- Be aware of country differences. For example if you are applying for roles in the US, you’ll probably need to adopt a ‘resume’ style, which is traditionally a one-pager. Going Global is a great resource with guidelines on CV writing for almost 40 countries.
2. Consider where you are in your career
- If you’re just starting out, one page may be sufficient to sell yourself adequately to any potential employer.
- If you’ve had several years’ experience, trying to get everything on one page may result in you omitting vital evidence of your skills and achievements to ensure you make it through the short-listing process. The two-pager is more likely to be what’s needed.
- Either way, the key question to ask is ‘does every line add value?’
And three pages? Only in exceptional circumstances, such as an academic CVs, where it’s necessary to list all publications and research papers. Even then, keep the main ‘body’ of the CV to two pages, and use the third page as an addendum to refer to if necessary. This keeps the content to a length that can be easily absorbed by the reader.
Always make sure to ask yourself: ‘what would actually work best for me?’ For more information and to get started, take a look at our CV and cover letter guide and at some examples. If you’ve had a look at some of our guidelines and still think you would benefit from some further advice, why not book a one-to-one CV discussion appointment or attend one of our ‘How to write effective CVs, cover letters and applications’ seminars during Summer Term?