There is no single “right” answer to this question, at least not in a generic sense. It really depends: on what the applicant has to say, how the organization likes to receive the information, and what they may view as “standing out from the crowd” in a positive way, among other things.  And even then, each person reading the CV within the organization may have a different view and reaction.  I suppose that’s why the world can support so many brands of shampoo, cereal and other consumer branded products (and hopefully more job applicants as well).

As a recipient of many many CVs over a 24-year career in banking, I would say that while “less is more” is definitely good advice as the CV is a “hook”, I have no problem reading further than one page if the content is worthwhile.  In that light, I do find it compelling to differentiate between a senior manager with decades of experience who can get away with more than one page, versus a more recent graduate where it would be unusual to need added space (although nowadays, some of our young people have done amazing things by the time they are 18!).I also liked to be able to piece together how the individual spent their time, and whether there were any unexplained gaps.   In that light, I found the traditional chronological CV helpful, although I can see how others could view this as boring and too restrictive.  It seems that the new thinking is to use more of a functional and/or marketing-oriented approach.  Whatever the presentation style, I liked to know that all the time was accounted for in a productive way, and I liked to see the person’s journey and the logic behind what they did and when they did it.  It would worry me to have the timeline so obfuscated that I felt the applicant was trying to hide something.

The other thing to consider is the cover note: this is an integral part of the “hook” if you can be sure that the note and the CV will remain attached together.  The cover note is particularly important in my book if the CV is emailed as an attachment since the note is the first thing I will read, and I may or may not get around to opening the attachment (now that I think of it, maybe it’s good to cut and paste the CV into the body of the email as well).

Finally, it mattered to me how the CV came to be on my desk in the first place.   The amount of time I was willing to spend on an unsolicited CV was far less than one referred by a retained search firm or by someone in my network. In fact, I might even have asked my very effective and longstanding PA for her opinion as to whether it was worth my time to look at the unsolicited CV, and who it should be forwarded onto if anyone (sorry!).  If you are sending yours unsolicited, then it is even more important that the cover note and the CV itself are grabbing my attention and impressing me within the first paragraph.

Basically, the CV is just one tool to get someone to see you, meet with you, give you a chance.  Having the turbo charge effect of one’s network really helps tremendously on this front.  And remember, the person doing the reading is most likely trying to capture the essence of you into a mental sound bite, so if you can help them form that accurate digestible opinion, all the better.