The 1 page vs 2 page CV / resume dilemma. What should my CV look like?

CV In the UK the normal format for a CV is 2 pages.  There are some good reasons to use this format but we know there are also some exceptions.

Why use a 2 page CV?

  • Most employers will expect it.
  • It gives you enough space to effectively talk about your skills.
  • If you have a lot of experience you have space to convey this.
  • Mainly the reverse chronological CV is used because it is easy to read, create and update.
  • Sometimes a skills based CV may be appropriate, especially if you are changing career track and need to show transferable skills.  This is usually more appropriate for those further on in their career.
  • BUT don’t pad out your CV with irrelevant detail and waffle to try to get up to 2 pages.

What are the exceptions?

  1. If you are applying to another country you will need to use the format commonly used there. Unless it’s a UK company based overseas when they may prefer a UK style CV. Ask them.
  2. If you are applying to an overseas company based in the UK it’s possible they would like the CV  format they are familiar with.  For example some American companies may like a 1 page CV.
  3. Investment banks generally prefer a 1 page CV especially those that are American companies. See articles at the end. We asked The Gateway magazine what they thought and they recommended 1 page too. If in doubt check.
  4. CVs used to apply for academic jobs – e.g. lecturing. These will be much longer due to referencing papers, research and conferences.
  5. CVs later in your career. By then you will know the industry norm and also what will show off your skills best.
  6. Applying for casual part time jobs. If you are handing out CVs for bar work and have little work experience then it may be that a 1 page CV highlighting all the good stuff with only basic information about your education will be all that’s needed.

BUT how do I really know?

There is no accounting for personal taste. Employers are people and they may have their own preferences, if in doubt check. Use employers websites, social media, talk to them at events and pick up the phone and ring them!

In the absence of any information, it’s unlikely your CV will be rejected if you use one format or the other, the 2 page just gives you a better opportunity to sell your skills.


As you can see there is some contradictory advice out there!

If you need some 1-1 advice on your CV use our Applications Advice Service. Before you come do your research on the format required and tell the adviser why you have chosen the style you are presenting.

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