0

I'm an undergraduate student currently updating my CV and seeking advice on its optimal length. Until recently, my CV was 2 pages long. However, this year, due to gaining additional teaching assistants and research experiences, it has expanded to 4 pages.

I am wondering if a 4-page CV is considered too lengthy for an undergraduate. My concern is that it might overwhelm or dissuade potential reviewers (like professors or hiring committees), despite the additional experiences being relevant and significant.

Could you please share your insights or recommendations on the ideal length for an undergraduate CV? Are there any general guidelines or norms within academia regarding CV length at this stage of one's career?

3
  • You might want to consider having both a long & short CV. Example long CV (13 pages): zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~hiranya/Peiris_CV_long.pdf; with corresponding short CV (2 pages): zuserver2.star.ucl.ac.uk/~hiranya/Peiris_CV_short.pdf
    – Allure
    Jan 17 at 3:14
  • You are no going to "overwhelm" them. Treat your CV the same as you would treat a resume. It should be tailored to fit the audience and opportunity you are pursuing. As Allure mentioned you can have a general version in long and short form but you shouldn't rely on them for every submission. Jan 17 at 6:02
  • 1
    I"m having a hard time seeing how one year of additional experience is 2 pages on your CV. But I say that as someone who (1) has kept my CV to one page (not counting publication list) and (2) will never have to update my CV again.
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 17 at 13:07

3 Answers 3

2

There is no such thing as "optimal length of an academic CV". If your CV is 4 pages long because, despite still being an undergrad, you have already done quite a bit of relevent stuff, then great. If your CV is 4 pages long because you've padded it with irrelevant stuff, that's not good.

A full academic CV is basically an exhaustive record of relevant things you have done. For more experienced academics, they can get quite long indeed, with two-digit lengths being usual. It is common to ask for a short CV instead, with maybe 2-5 pages only.

If your full CV has 4 pages of relevant stuff, and nothing in the job advert etc specifies that they are asking for something short, then submit the full 4 pages.

[Outside of academia this all works very differently, I believe.]

0

There are many ways to write a CV and I worry about what format you are using for such a long (4 page) CV as an undergraduate.

I think a CV should be easily scannable/readable in a few minutes to pick up the general gist of what the writer has accomplished. If you do this, I think you would be fine.

But if the CV consists of a few long expository sections saying how great you are and requires reading to get that idea, then people will be likely to give it up before you'd like. In that case, four pages is too long.

One form of a CV is just a list of papers and projects worked on, letting the detail follow from the papers themselves, via the titles. I doubt that an undergraduate (or maybe even a graduate student) is going to get to four pages in a typical case.

One solution is to carefully format it, so that it can be scanned without needing to see the detail, but providing the detail as well. That is, a list of very informative headings followed by some explanation (inline) of each item as needed. Maybe like

  1. Undergraduate project on fusion underwater basket weaving:

The FUBW project searches for mumble mumble...

  1. Senior thesis: "Advances in Fusion ..."

... main conclusion of the paper.

Such a format could easily reach four pages and could also be easily scanned by anyone willing to skip the detail parts. But if you have a lot of papers, then the titles and venues, if any, should be enough.

Just make it easy to scan and grasp the main points, not requiring any detailed dive into the ideas.

And, of course, don't list things that aren't relevant to the position you seek. Being able to blow the biggest bubble-gum bubble in your cohort should be omitted (most cases).

1
  • 1
    And don't choose one of the fancy formats I've seen that are more suited to display in a modern art gallery. They all waste far too much space and don't let the reader lock in on the important information. I've looked over hundreds of undergraduate resumes for summer intern positions and way too many of them make it hard for me to find small details like their major and their (projected) graduation date.
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 17 at 13:54
-4

There can be only one answer to this question: yes!

I have seen more than a thousand cvs in my professional career, and frankly would not even bother reading a four page one. If you can't express things concisely in a cv, you will most likely be hard work,

1.5-2 pages to the very max, and not in a small font in order to squeeze it in.

4
  • 1
    And one must presume that anything on the second page and later will be completely ignored unless the first page is compelling by itself.
    – Jon Custer
    Jan 17 at 16:31
  • 4
    That doesn't sound like experience in academia to me.
    – Arno
    Jan 17 at 19:00
  • 1
    I do not know that I have ever seen an academic CV (to be distinguished from a resume) which is under 2 pages. Jan 17 at 20:33
  • @Arno Correct. I forgot academia is special. Jan 19 at 13:06

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .