Picture this: you’re getting ready to apply to jobs, and you’re outlining your resume. You’re filling out the experience section, but things are getting pretty lengthy.
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 widely debated.
Having a resume that’s too long or too short can be a serious red flag for hiring managers, and may prevent an otherwise great job application from turning into an interview.
You want to make sure your resume doesn’t trigger any size-related alarms. 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 resume should be one page long. Most professional resume templates you find online are only one page, and that’s because one page is standard.
However, there are exceptions.
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.
This is especially true if you’re applying for a management or executive-level position. If this is you, your resume should ultimately be as long as it takes to demonstrate your relevant accomplishments and professional history.
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.
How to determine the ideal resume length
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 to each application
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 and qualifications. Whenever you apply for a new job, your resume should change to reflect these requirements.
Not to mention, some of your experience may not be relevant to the job you’re currently applying for.
For example, service sector jobs can teach highly valuable soft skills. However, if you’re applying for a marketing job, including information about your experience waiting tables isn’t relevant and will weaken your resume.
Remove anything that isn’t directly related to the position. If you can condense your experience into the minimal amount of information necessary to demonstrate your qualifications, your resume will attract more interviews.
You can also look at the job listing to see how much experience is required. If the company is looking for a candidate with four years of experience, don’t waste space listing eight years of your professional history.
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 three to five bullet points — with each bullet point no longer than two lines.
If you’re having trouble trimming your work experience down to just a few anecdotes, try using a resume outline to help you organize all your information.
Then, go through your resume and see if you can simplify your language. Remove filler words to shorten sentences and make your resume more skimmable.
You should also quantify your accomplishments. Use concrete, number-based examples in the body of your resume to show what you’ve achieved. Numbers take up less space, and carry more value than most words.
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. Happy job hunting!