For many years job seekers new and old have asked themselves the same question, “How long should my resume be?”. The answer seems to constantly change and shift, and there are multiple factors at play. Thankfully there aren’t as many rules as there used to be, but there are still a few things to take into account. We’ll break down what you need to know about resume length below.
For many years, the philosophy was that a resume should be no longer than 1 page long. The thought behind this was that keeping a the document short and sweet would make it easier for a hiring manager to read it. The philosophy behind it still remains, but longer resumes are certainly more acceptable. However, there are a few rules that should never be broken. For one, your resume shouldn’t have any typos, misspellings, or bad grammar. The other rule that can’t be broken is telling the truth. A resume shouldn’t have false qualifications or accomplishments. There are certain cases where it’s acceptable to omit jobs or information, but this is also a touchy subject. Make sure you proofread, and double check that everything is represented accurately.
How Long is Too Long?
So now that you know the cardinal rules of resume writing, we can discuss a rule that’s changed- the length. In today’s day and age, 1 page is still standard, but only for a certain type of job seeker. For anyone that is new to the job market, or entry level, 1 page is what you should shoot for. At this point in your career, anything longer than a page would stretch out information that isn’t necessary. Keeping it to a page will help you focus on the most important responsibilities you’ve had and skills you command. For someone more experienced, you may need another page.
As time goes on in your career, you will accomplish more and take on further responsibilities. It’s important that your resume is updated to reflect that shift. This means more space, and another page. At this point, you should also be updating your resume to reflect a different focus. Instead of focusing on education and minor jobs, you should construct a narrative of your career. Even now, it’s better to risk having the resume being too short than being too long. You want to display enough of your experience that shows you are qualified, but not too much of it that could discourage someone from reading it. You should strive to leave the hiring manager interested but wanting more, enough so to bring you in for an interview.
Breaking the Limit
So when can a resume be longer than 2 pages? There are situations in which it is more than appropriate. Any C-suite level employees will typically have vast resumes that describe their accomplishments in depth. The job search process is typically different for executive level employees. Workers in more technical fields may also find that they need more than a few pages. With technical positions, there are usually many technologies, certifications, programs, and software to be proficient with. Listing these off on a resume can take up quite some space, so don’t worry if that is the case.
Less is More
If you don’t fall into one of those two distinct categories and you feel as if you need more room, you may want to try and break it up into a separate document. Having a supplementary profile or strategic breakdown along with your resume can help fill in the gaps without bogging down the resume. If you are tech savvy, you may want to consider setting up a personal webpage, which you can then point to from your resume. This also keeps the pressure off of the resume to tell the full story. As previously mentioned, it’s always better to risk being short and succinct than long winded and exhaustive.
We hope this cleared up some of the confusion surrounding what length is appropriate for a resume. It can certainly be a confusing and frustrating topic, so if you have any further questions or clarifications, please let us know in the comments and we’ll be happy to provide further assistance! Feel free also to check out this great article from Business Insider that includes graphics to differentiate an experienced vs. an entry level resume.