Picture this: you’re getting ready to apply to jobs, and you’re fleshing out your resume. You’re filling out the experience section, but things are starting to get pretty lengthy — after all, you want to make sure employers get a full picture of your experience.
So now you’re wondering “how long should my resume be anyway?”
You’re not the only one. The proper length of a resume is something that leaves many job seekers confused, and is still hotly debated.
Having a resume that’s too long or too short can be a serious red flag for hiring managers, and can stop an otherwise great job application dead in its tracks.
To make sure you nail it, we’re going to teach you how to hit the ideal resume length, while still including all the essential parts of your professional experience.
In this guide, you’ll find answers to the following questions:
1. How Many Pages Should a Resume Be?
Here’s the quick answer: for the vast majority of people, a professional resume should be one page long.
How Long Can a Resume Be?
If you have a decade or more of professional experience — and you need more space to convey the depth of your experience — then your resume can be two pages or longer.
In cases like this, your resume should ultimately be as long as it takes to demonstrate your relevant accomplishments and professional history, while still being as short as possible.
Additionally, certain professions require a unique, longer resume format, such as those associated with the federal government or academia. In these cases your resume could be three pages or, in many cases, longer.
2. The Ideal Resume Length: 3 Tips for Getting it Right
So now you know how long your resume should be. Still, cutting your experience down to one page can be challenging. Don’t worry — we’ll show you what you need to do to hit the ideal resume length.
#1. Tailor Your Resume
Tailoring your resume for each position you apply to is one of the 10 resume writing commandments, and should be something you do regardless of whether or not you’re having issues fitting your experience onto one page.
Every job you apply for — even within the same industry — will have different requirements, qualifications, and necessary skill sets. Whenever you apply for a new job, your resume should change to reflect these requirements.
This means that you should never try to fit everything you’ve done on your resume. Some of your experience may not be totally relevant to the job you’re currently applying for, and will just suck up valuable space on your resume.
For example, service sector jobs can teach highly valuable professional skills. However, if you’re applying for a marketing job, including information about your year waiting tables on your resume isn’t relevant and will make your resume look overcrowded.
Drop anything from your resume that isn’t directly relevant in order to condense your experience down to the minimal amount of information that it takes to demonstrate your qualifications.
Additionally, look at the job listing to see how much experience is required for the position. If the company is looking for a candidate with 4 years of experience, don’t waste space listing 8 years of your professional history. It’s much better to be concise and highly targeted with your resume than it is to give employers a broad brush overview of your experience.
#2. Use the Right Format
Have all the language on your resume finely tuned, but still can’t fit everything on one page? Try adjusting the design of your resume.
Tweak the margins of your resume, make your resume font smaller (but do not go under 10 pt font), or shrink the heading. Also, consider removing any unnecessary graphic elements from your resume — although they look nice, details like these can end up sucking up a lot of space on your resume.
However, don’t go overboard with your changes. If your resume ends up being difficult to read, the hiring manager won’t be interested in any of your accomplishments — no matter how impressive.
Finally, if you’re still having trouble getting everything onto one page, there are tons of free online resume templates that can help you clean up a jam-packed resume. Find one that boasts a more professional or minimal design, so that your content is given as much space as you need.
#3. Get to the Point
If you’re still having trouble hitting the right resume length, you might be writing too much about your job experience.
Recruiters don’t want to read an in-depth description of your previous jobs and accomplishments — that’s what your cover letter is for. The professional experience section of your resume should ultimately be concise but informative.
Rather than try to cover everything you did at your previous jobs, narrow your anecdotes down to only a handful of your most impressive or relevant accomplishments and responsibilities instead. Keep in mind that each position you’ve held should only have 3 to 5 bullet points — with each bullet point no longer than two lines.
Then, go through your resume and see if you can simplify your language. Remove filler words from your bullet points to shorten sentences and make your resume easier for hiring managers to skim. If there are things you’re using three words to say when you could be using just one, go through and cut down those sentences.
Additionally, quantify your achievements by backing things up with hard numbers. Use concrete, action-oriented examples in the body of your resume to show what you’ve achieved. Don’t just state your competencies — back them up with percentages, dollar amounts, or time saved performing a task.
This not only looks impressive and demonstrates your qualifications to the hiring manager, but also allows you to convey a lot of information in a short blurb. Numbers are concise and universal, so using them to showcase your abilities is a great way to convey your competencies in a way that uses up little of your precious resume space.
3. Now You Know the Ideal Resume Length, What’s Next?
Now that you know the answer to how long your resume should be, you’re ready to start putting pen to paper.
But before you start sending out job applications, make sure you pair your resume with one of our expertly designed cover letter templates.
And if you need to save some time, check out our easy-to-use resume builder and create a world-class resume in mere minutes. Also feel free to leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. Happy job hunting!