How to Decide How Many Pages Your Resume Should Be
If you ask someone this question, more often than not you will hear that your resume should never be more than one page. That has long been the standard and most employers would automatically disregard your resume if it exceeded one page. However, that has changed. The new rule of thumb is: your resume should be long enough to entice hiring managers to call you for an interview. There is no longer a hard fast rule for how long your resume should be as you have to consider things like the position you are applying for, your experience, number of employers, education and scope of your accomplishments.
Long Resumes vs. Short Resumes
There are a variety of factors that should and will affect the appropriate length of your resume. It is important to remember that recruiters and managers have short attention spans. Your resume is your ad and it doesn’t have to cover everything you have done in your career. The person reading your resume needs to know what is relevant to the position they are hiring for and you have to catch their attention.
When Does it Make Sense to use a One Page Resume?
Generally speaking your resume should only be one page if you have less than 10 years of work experience or if you are making a drastic career change and your previous experience is not relevant to your new goal. If you’ve held one or two positions with the same employer you should have no issue keeping your resume to a single page. If you are having trouble keeping your resume to one page, try a summary statement that focuses on your skills and objectives. If you have a long job history, keep it to within the last 10 years.
When Does it Make Sense to use a Two Page Resume?
Two page resumes make sense if you have 10 years or more of experience related to your goal and/or the position you are applying for. A second page would also be appropriate for those applying for positions in technical and specialty fields that need the space to prove their technical knowledge. If you decide that you need a two page resume make sure you are not including things like positions held long ago, outdated accomplishments, old training and hobbies.
Is it Ever Best to go Three Pages?
Three page (or longer) resumes are very rare and should only be utilized by senior-level managers or executives with long track records of leadership accomplishments. The other exception would be candidates that are in scientific or academic fields that have long lists of publications, licenses, etc. that are relevant to include. You would want to be very selective when considering going to three pages and make sure that all the information you are including is indeed relevant to the position you are applying for.
3 Key Areas You Should Consider When Deciding Length
When deciding how long your resume should be, there are several different areas to consider. Your previous job history, accomplishments and the specific position/industry you are applying in should all be taken into account.
1. Achievements and Accomplishments
It’s important to make sure that your resume includes accomplishments and awards you have received. This could include special recognitions, licenses, certifications, speaking engagements and other employment related recognitions. If your list seems too extensive include it as an addenda to your resume rather than including these on the first page.
Not all of your experience will be relevant to the job you are applying for. If you have a long job history that isn’t relevant to the current position, include those as bullet point so you have room to highlight the experience that is relevant. This applies to jobs you have held as well as education, certifications, recognitions, etc. Everything highlighted in detail on your resume should be relevant and of interest to the employer you are handing it to. In some cases, it may be beneficial to have more than one resume so you can make them specific to the different jobs you are applying to.
No matter what length your resume ends up at, you should be concise and capture the attention of the reader on the first page, preferably on the first third of the page. Employers typically screen resumes for as few as six seconds before deciding whether to keep reading. As long as you grab their attention, the length isn’t as important. Keep your writing concise, use short paragraphs and bullet points. The better organized your resume is, the easier it will be to read. If you have a lot of relevant information, don’t try to cram it into too small of a space just to keep your resume to one page. It is more important that it is readable.
Final Thoughts on Resume Length
The “rules” that used to exist surrounding the length of resumes no longer exist. The only steadfast rules now are that you can’t lie, you can’t have typos/misspellings, and you can’t include negative information. In the age of Twitter, we have seen a trend move back toward shorter resumes but this won’t work for every applicant and every position. If the resume is being used for networking or job fairs, create one that is just one page but still have a full resume for applications and interviews. If you are having trouble with formatting or knowing what to include, consult a resume formatting guide online or a professional that handles resume writing who can make recommendations.