Why we need to delete things from our CV to keep it fresh

Lydia Smith
Writer, Yahoo Finance UK
If you tend to keep adding to your resume without taking anything out, you may well be a ‘CV hoarder’. Photo: Getty

When you are crafting a CV, it can be tempting to add as many of your accomplishments, achievements, and past positions as possible to show a potential employer just how experienced and capable you are. Yet while many believe more is better when it comes to a resume, this may not be true.

If you tend to keep adding to your resume without taking anything out, you may well be a ‘CV hoarder’.

As your career progresses, however, it’s just as important to remove old jobs, internships, and other information that may no longer be relevant, as it is to add new developments.

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“It can be tempting to include every achievement you've had since birth; but that's never a good idea,” says Lee Biggins, CEO and founder of CV-Library.

Firstly, hoarding on your CV can leave you with a document that is far too long, reducing your chance of grabbing and holding an employer’s attention. When inundated with potential hires, no recruiter will want to spend an hour reading through your resume to dig out the relevant bits. If you provide too much information, reading your CV will feel like a burden.

“Ideally a CV should be no longer than two A4 pages, ​as time is of the essence. In order to save space, assess each part of your CV and check that it exemplifies a trait or skill required for the job. If it doesn't, then it's time you press delete,” Biggins adds.

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If you only have two pages to summarise your career, you’re forced to focus on exactly what is relevant and include only the most important information.

It can also help to focus on jobs carried out in the last five years or so, while summarising anything further back. Your most recent experience is likely to carry the most weight, particularly as it is probably the first thing an employer will read too. Older job positions are likely to be more junior and possibly less impressive to whoever is reading your resume. 

However, if you don’t want to omit past information — and you’re certain it is relevant to the job you are applying for — then try to keep it as concise as possible. You may also want to consider creating another section on your resume called “earlier work history” where you can list older positions you have held, including only basic information such as job title and company.

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When it comes to your education, list your most recent achievements first and include specific modules or courses only where relevant. While some interests and hobbies may be helpful to add to your CV — for example, if you keep a blog and are applying for a writing position — things like ‘socialising’ aren’t always helpful.

"Additionally, condensing qualifications ​(such as GCSEs or A-Levels​) down into a single sentence, deleting irrelevant or outdated ​hobbies/achievements ​and removing jobs that are over 10 years old is a great way to free up space,” Biggins says.

“By cutting these sections down, a prospective employer can easily see ​your suitability for the job​, increasing your chances of progressing through the hiring process.”

If you’re struggling to cut down your CV, it can help to remember that past positions that are important to you may not actually be important to the recruiter. Go through the specifications of the job you are applying for and cross-check with the information on your resume. Most of all, be brutal when editing and cutting down — and you may be more likely to be called in for an interview.

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