Career experts state that the resume can be between one and three pages. Yet, this piece of advice isn’t of much help for confused job-seekers who try to squeeze their long track record into one page or, on the contrary, stuff the document with fluff to make it visually longer.
The turning point of determining a perfect resume length is taking your unique career situation into account. The length should be dictated by experience, not vice versa. And today, our creative professional resume writers will share the advice on the optimal resume length in each specific career situation to help you write it concisely without selling yourself short.
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Now, let’s get back to the confusing subject of resume length. Here are the exact guidelines you can follow.
For decades, a one-page resume was considered a ‘golden standard’. Now it justifies itself only in the following cases:
• You’re a graduate or professional with under 7 years of experience. Usually, students who are seeking their first job after graduation don’t have much paid experience and thus don’t need a second page. Similarly, if you’ve had 2-3 jobs, they can be easily placed on a single page, as space is enough to outline your duties and achievements.
• You’re changing careers. Say, after 15 years in teaching you’ve decided to pursue a fancy web development career. This means that most of your teaching experience is irrelevant and thus you don’t need to be detailed about it. Describe it briefly, focusing on transferable skills and the newly obtained IT skills, and one page will suffice to do just that.
• You’ve had a steady career. If you're one of those loyal employees who has spent over a decade with the same employer with rare promotions or change in responsibilities, you probably don’t need that second page. Just list the roles you had briefly and don’t fill the resume with fluff, as it’s better to keep it informative.
Pro Tip: Don’t use a small font and don’t remove margins trying to fit the content into one page! If, in addition to work, you’ve been involved in voluntary and community activities, took many trainings or have significant accomplishments, it’s better to add a second page to mention these important details.
Two pages are the most popular resume option among the job-seekers. It’s your best bet in the situations as follows:
• You have 7+ years of relevant experience. Experienced professionals with a long list of jobs held cannot squeeze their rich experience into a single page without missing something important. The second page allows you to describe the most important experiences in full and give the recruiter a big picture of your career. Be sure to put the most important details at the top of page one, though – otherwise they may be overlooked.
• Your experience is limited yet extensive. Are you a talented young professional who moved through the ranks rapidly and landed a leadership role in 5 years or so? Or, have you contributed to a few community projects or developed your own startup in the free time? The second page is excused when you have to share something really important with the target employers.
Pro tip: Using a second page doesn’t mean that you should list the entire career history since you left college in 1990. You need to be selective and only include the jobs that could sell you for the target position. Generally, resume consultants recommend that you go back 15 years on a resume.
Three-page resumes only make sense in the following cases:
• You’re a C-level executive. Accomplished top managers usually have a long track record of companies and projects where they made a dramatic difference. Hence, a three-page resume makes perfect sense. Yet, remember that you’re not writing a novel where you’re bringing reader and character together. All accomplishments and positions you include should be relevant, with the top details listed on the first page.
• You seek a government position. The rules for writing a government resume are different from those for writing a resume for the business sector. Government resumes are usually longer and include extra details such as supervisor’s names, salary record, etc. Moreover, you shouldn’t leave off any jobs here. So, three pages is your rule of thumb.
• You’re in a skill-based job or are a gig worker. Professionals with extensive set of skills, such as programmers, engineers, or web developers, might need a third page to display how they put their impressive skill set into practice. Similarly, freelancers and contractors who have a multitude of projects can use a three-page application to show their breadth of experience and a variety of relevant projects completed.
Pro tip: A three-page resume is rather an exception than a general recommendation. If your resume is of this length, consult a resume professional to understand whether using a third page is appropriate or it’s possible to make your resume more concise.
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