How long should your resume be?


How long should your resume be

How many pages should a resume be, you ask?

Our general guideline is that less is more.

A one-page resume is ideal, but two pages should be the absolute maximum.

Most importantly, no matter the length, it needs to provide enough evidence to prove that you’re a strong candidate for the role.

In this article, you’ll learn:

  • Why you should keep your resume as short as possible
  • How to determine the ideal resume length for you
  • What you should eliminate from your resume
  • How to adjust your resume format to fit more information onto the page

Why you should keep your resume as short as possible

Put yourself in a recruiter’s shoes.

Imagine you’re a corporate recruiter and get a stack of 250 resumes to review (that’s the average number of applications for a corporate role, according to Inc. Magazine).

You need to narrow it down to 4-6 candidates to interview.

In an ideal world, you would grab a cup of coffee and carefully read through each one, but that’s often not the case.

Because recruiters are strapped for time, first impressions matter.

Perfectly valid grounds for a recruiter to throw your resume into the “no” pile include:

  • You provided too much information and your resume was deemed too long
  • Your formatting was unprofessional or overly elaborate (think cute colors, photos, or graphics)
  • Your writing style is rambling
  • You had typos or spelling errors
  • You made grammar mistakes

You only have a few seconds to make a good impression.

The latest research from the Ladders reveals that recruiters spend an average of 7.4 seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether it makes the initial cut.

Your resume is essentially a personal marketing document. It’s not an autobiography, so you want to stick to the highlights.

When putting together a resume, your goal should be to pique the interest of recruiters and get them to want to learn more about you by inviting you for an interview.

Make sure that your resume’s formatting and content allow you to do so effectively.

How to determine the ideal resume length for you

In our opinion, even the President of the United States should be able to put together a strong one-page document.

Think of your resume as a movie preview. It should be a 30-second clip of what the reader can expect to learn more about when they meet you during the hour-long interview.

We never recommend submitting a resume that is over two pages in length, but when deciding whether to go for one or two pages, consider the following:

1) How much experience do you have?

Your resume length should largely be dictated by how much experience you possess.

  • If you have under ten years of experience, you’re allowed one page.
  • If you have over ten years of experience, it’s usually fine to stretch your resume to two pages.
  • If you held multiple contract roles that were shorter in length, you may need two pages to effectively explain all your projects and what you accomplished in each role.

2) Is each bullet point adding value?

Your overarching goal should be to create a resume that is as concise as possible, neatly formatted, and easy to read.

Each bullet point needs to add value.

You only need one or two bullets to describe your day-to-day responsibilities.

Then, focus on quantifying your achievements or providing concrete examples of the contributions you made in each role.

It’s okay to have a two-page resume – but only if all the information is helping to build your credibility and expand on your story.

Never force your resume to two pages just to make yourself seem more qualified by adding additional “fluff.”

What you should eliminate from your resume or condense

If you’re having trouble fitting your resume onto one or two pages, focus on condensing your content and formatting:

1) Condense your content

After you put together your draft, you should seek to condense your information as much as possible:

  • Instead of listing every single job duty, succinctly describe your tasks and ensure you’re not repeating information.
  • For your most recent 2-3 roles, you will likely need more bullet points (4-6 bullets – no more than two lines each), but for earlier roles, stick to your major achievements and responsibilities (2-4 bullets).
  • For roles over 10 years old, consider only including your position, company name, and dates in an early career section.
  • Consider eliminating work experience that is not relevant to the role you’re targeting – especially if it was a summer job from college or an entry-level role.

2) Adjust your resume formatting

You want your content to fill up the entire page, but leave some breathing room as well (so that page doesn’t look cluttered).

Play around with the following elements of your resume’s formatting to ensure your content neatly fits onto the page.

Margins

If your resume just about fits onto a single page but ran a few lines over, you can adjust your margins to create additional space.

We recommend keeping your margins between 0.5 – 1.0 inch.

Spacing

You can also adjust the spacing before and after each section to help you condense your content or fill up the page.

However, make sure that your spacing is consistent and that you are incorporating enough of it.

White space is not a bad thing!

By incorporating white space, you add visual appeal and skim-value to your document. It’ll look less cluttered and overwhelming to read at first glance.

Font size

You can reduce your font size if needed, but we don’t recommend going below size 10 font.

Need help crafting your resume? Consider our resume or resume and cover letter writing services!





Matt Glodz

Matt Glodz is the Founder and Managing Partner of Resume Pilots and a Certified Professional Resume Writer.

After studying business communication at Cornell University, Matt worked within Fortune 500 companies, where he observed what drove the decision making of recruiters and hiring managers first-hand, noting that qualified candidates were frequently denied interview opportunities due to poorly written documents.

At Resume Pilots, Matt combines his solid business and writing background - which includes prior work for a Chicago Tribune publication - to craft resumes that give his clients the best chance of landing interviews. He currently works with applicants ranging from CEOs to recent graduates and has been writing resumes for over eight years.

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