Length of CV/resume for a freelance employee

Wednesday, June 25th, 2008 - CV Writing

Neil asks: I’ve been around for sometime – 16 SAP projects – and in consequence my CV is getting rather long (4 pages[1]). I’ve been reading around and it seems the current trend is to keep it to two. 8086 assembler and mainframe Adabas/Natural aren’t exactly a key selling points for an R/3 specialist, and I’ve forgetten them anyway! So should I just lump all of the ancient history into one group and give a breif general summary? Clearly the most recent work will remain in detail, but at what point(s) should I start transitioning to briefer overviews and/or mentioning in passing? Looking forward to hearing your opinions. Note: this is just the English version; the bilingual one with French goes to 8

In Answer:
Your CV is a selling document of you and your work experiences for the post you are applying for, NOT a whole career portfolio. Employers or agencies will only be interested in the last five years/three positions, which ever is longer – anything before that can be summarised.

As a contractor in temporary positions, you could summarise some placements on employer or types/skills of work you were doing to reduce the apparent “jumping” such an acceptable career path entails, if you are concerned and are looking to move into a permanent placement.

Think of it this way – if you were the recruiter/HR professional reviewing CV’s all day, you would look for the strong candidates with the clear skills and experience the advert stated the post required. Hence, your cover letter and first half page of your CV has to tick those boxes, or why would they want to look any further? Your cover letter and first half page of your CV hence are key, and anything else is best described as interview fodder to check how you have managed your career.

At the end of the day, its your CV so you need to choose how to portray yourself – but a CV written for a specific post shouldn’t need to be longer than 2 pages, which with a cover letter makes 3 sheets of paper.

Good Luck!

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One Response to “Length of CV/resume for a freelance employee”

  1. david spake (a) gmail Says:

    I’m an ERP recruiter in the USA. I deal with SAP and Oracle products primarily for contract positions. I deal with dozens of resumes daily in this particular arena as I match consultants with opportunities.

    I would say that in this particular market — experience is detailed farther back than the standard 5 years that might be applied to most other positions.

    This is a bit different than what is expected in the general hiring world. And absolutely 3 projects history would not be enough – in point of fact I would be suspicious if that is all I saw along with a general throw away summary for prior experience.

    Detailing should of course be lighter the farther back the experience goes. But for skills you’ve grown seeing where you have come from, and what you have come to is very important.

    So, for example, if you are a FSCM consultant seeing your FICO history 4 or 5 years prior to your FSCM experience in the last 3 is very important. This type of context gives credibility in an industry where you have significant/specific skill levels expected at the 3, 5, 7, 10+ year points of experience.

    No one would expect you to remember all the Cobol of days gone by, but with ERP we expect to see a building progression over time. And arbitrarily truncating that isn’t necessarily the best decision. Not as detailed, but at least a few lines detailing modules or focus.

    ** Short term/spot engagements I would see summarizing generally unless it was something particularly applicable to the direction you are wanting to go career wise.

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