Resume length is probably one of the most debated questions. Experts and recruiters have different opinions: some say that a one-page resume is a must, while the others are okay with a two- or even three-page resume. To make things easier for you, we have collected the data and summarized the opinions of recruiters and expert resume writers.
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To sum up, the optimal resume length is 1-2 pages. Number of pages depend on years of experience, skills and career level. In exceptional cases, even a 3-page resume can be justified if the candidate has extensive experience, many projects and a rich skillset (for example, programming languages and frameworks for a Senior Fullstack Developer role). For detailed explanations and data, read below.
According to the survey, most recruiters prefer two-page resumes, especially for managerial roles. A two-page resume is 2.9 times more likely to be selected. Word count matters as well: a perfect resume has up to 600 words. The word limit proves that it's important to prioritize. To present your entire work history using the length limits, you need to be selective about what to include.
One-page resumes aren't always necessary. Back when the job-seekers submitted paper resumes to companies, one page was a recommended length. Firstly, this was because the second page could get lost in the hiring manager's office. And secondly, people changed jobs not so frequently as today, so quite often one page was enough to mention everything. Here's when to use one:
• You are a college graduate with limited experience related to your targeted job;
• You are changing careers and your previous experience is irrelevant (say, you're transferring from a teacher to a graphic designer);
• You have under 10 years of experience or had less than four employers;
• You have held multiple positions with the same employer.
Things are pretty clear here. If you don't have much relevant experience, the answer to question "How long should your resume be" is quite obvious. For a university graduate or job-seekers who stayed in the same job for 5+ years, a one-page resume should be enough to describe relevant experience.
Shorter is always better when it comes to resume length. If your experience fits into one page and you are not losing important content, stick to a single page.
• You are a college graduate with several internships, summer jobs, or extracurricular activities that might be relevant;
• Your job requires a variety of technical or industry-specific skills and qualifications that not all candidates have;
• You have 10+ years of professional experience in your field;
• You're a C-level manager with a vast history of leadership skills, accomplishments and responsibilities;
• In your industry, it's necessary to show specialized training, licenses, academic publications and specific accomplishments.
A hiring manager reads resumes to make sure the candidate has the needed qualifications. Two pages are enough to create a detailed career story and highlight the qualifications required by a job description.
Writing a document that takes three pages or longer isn't common, but it makes sense in the following cases:
• You are applying for a federal position and need to specify many details that aren't common for traditional business resumes;
• You are an experienced technical professional with extensive list of skills and projects that are a must for your industry;
• You are a college professor or researcher and need to list publications, conferences, and lectures that take many pages.
When it comes to submitting a multi-page resume, make sure to clarify if the employer expects a resume or a CV. The latter document presents your entire professional, academic and educational history, while a on a resume you can be selective about what to include.
To sum things up, how many pages should a resume be in 2021 depends on the content. If you had a couple of jobs only and little activities outside of work, your resume should be one page. Yet if you have an extensive history of accomplishments and projects, a two-pager is your choice.
Many job-seekers face the problem when the resume is too long, but they aren't sure how to make it shorter. Here's how to reduce the length of your resume and tailor it to the target job at the same time:
Many professionals had jobs that weren't related to their main line of career. Say, you worked as a waitress, bartender or a cashier as a student, or as a delivery driver during the lockdown to pay the bills. Yet, if you don't plan to continue this line of work, remove such jobs.
Also, remove the positions that no longer meet your professional goals. Maybe, you worked as an accountant after college, but then switched to a software development field. In this case, no need to mention your early jobs.
Each job comes with lots of daily responsibilities, but not all of them are worth being listed on your resume, no matter if it's entry-level or senior-level. When possible, remove the unecessary tasks and use quantifiable achievements or tangible results. Resume writers recommend that you describe each job in 6-7 bullets.
If you have a vague job title or your company isn't well-known, consider adding a 1-2 sentence description of the industry, company size, how many people you managed and what your job entailed in general.
Generic skills, such as Microsoft Word, email, time management, teamwork and similar can be included only if you're just out of college. In all other cases, no need to list them specifically - in most professional positions you are supposed to have these skills.
Focus on your hard skills and competencies that are listed in the job posting. In this way, you will tailor your resume for a position better and get more chances for an intervew.
As a rule, employers are interested in the most recent work experience. So, be most detailed about your two most recent jobs and go far back 10-15 years only. You can omit anything that's older, or leave the job titles and dates only. Yet, if your early experience is impressive (say, you worked for Boeing or Apple), you may leave it.
This rule applies to education either. Don't include high school information if you have a college degree. And if you graduated over 5 years ago, you can skip the graduation date.
Community engagement or volunteering can enhance your work experience section if you are making a career change. But if they are irrelevant to the job you're applying for, feel free to skip them. You can add them to your LinkedIn profile where space isn't limited.
This doesn't directly relate to the length, but here's the fact: 59% of recruiters will reject a resume that has typos, grammar or spelling errors. Read the text aloud to make sure it flows well and sounds logical. Use online spell checking software (such as Grammarly.com or Corrector.io).
• Preferred resume length is one to two pages long, depending on the content. Using more pages is prefectly reasonable as long as you list valuable competencies.
• Don't sacrifice readability trying to make your resume shorter. Use 10-12 pts size and leave some blank space between sections. Remember that 380 words per page are recommended.
• If your job descriptions look too long, focus on those responsibilities and duties that relate to the job posting, and remove the rest.
• Always submit a cover letter along with the resume. The letter gives you opportunity to expand on the most important activities and skills. Moreover, 45% of recruiters will reject resumes without a cover letter.
Now, you know how long should a resume be, but there are lots of other questions that can confuse even the experienced job seeker. To feel confident during your job search, consider having your resume checked by the expert of ResumePerk.com.
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