Does the length of my CV and cover letter matter?

Curriculum vitae commonly referred to as a CV or resume is a document which summarises an individual’s professional life. It is broken down in several sections such that every important aspect of one’s life is included. Among the sections is a personal statement which provides a snap shot of what to find in the general CV, or simply put, it is a sales pitch to entice the reader to consider reading through the rest of the CV. It includes the education section where you give your qualifications, this basically shows how you are fit for the job in terms of your skills and knowledge. There is employment history or experience where you state your current or previous job placements and mention key achievements you got. It as well includes referees who will back you up and speak about your personality and work ethic if you were to get the job. And lastly the certification where you confirm to be owner of the document submitted in.

The cover letter on the other hand is like a longer, more detailed personal statement therefore it is a preamble to your CV. It goes into the why you are the right fit for the job, why the reader should consider reading your CV and how you can help to grow the company you are applying to. If you write a crappy one, chances are you will not even be called in for an interview where your potential employers can tap into your personality and see for themselves if you are the right fit for them.

Now that you know what a cover letter and CV are, you must be asking how long they should be. For someone who doesn’t have a lot of experience or educational background, the length may not be necessarily exaggerated yet if it is too short, you put yourself at a disadvantage. On the other hand, for one with over 10 years’ work experience and long education background, choosing what to include and exclude in your CV may be a hustle.

First and foremost, remember you are not the only one applying for the job. You have probably seen instances where 1.000 people have applied for a single job and employers have to filter through the multitude of cover letters and CVs to pick the right and deserving person. So how do you stand out? Apart from flowery language, good schools attended and additional experience and skills attained, the length of your documents will give you a chance to be set apart for further review.

Think of it this way, if you have 100 cover letters to sort through in a single day, and an equal number of CVs; there are 20 cover letters which are three pages long, 20 which are four pages, 20 which are five, 20 which are two pages and 20 which are one page, which would you choose to go through first? I bet you would say you would start with those with a page because they are easier to read through and you would feel an uphill task to read five pages of the letter.

The same goes with CVs, we have seen people with a 10 page long CV and you just can’t help but get tired reading through it. So if it is tiring for you, imagine the recruiter who has to sort through an assortment of them in a day! Do not cramp your chances because you feel you need to show each and every job you have ever worked at, even when it was just a week long!

Therefore what is the right length? As an individual, have a CV that details everything about you, yes, even that one week volunteering gig you got somewhere. However, when applying for a job, read through to see which job experiences are more aligned to the job you are applying for. Then edit your CV and leave only the relevant ones. Leave out education experiences that do not necessary add value to your qualifications as well.

If you do not have enough experience, play around with your personal statement and achievements during your job placements to help give you an edge that you can deliver when given an opportunity.

Other employers specify the number of pages your CV should be, most companies say between two and three pages long. So consider editing it to fit those pages, whether you have more experience or not.

On the other hand, cover letters are usually shorter, they are one to two pages long, yet some people find it hard to write them nevertheless. Be brief when writing your letter, brief get to the gist of your personality, and long enough to explain them away comfortably. However, still pay attention to the request the employer is making, if they do not specify the length, still try to stick within these parameters to up your chances of being considered for an interview.

We hope this will help you in your next application, good luck.

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