How Long Should a Resume Be?

Nearly every job seeker will be confronted with the question, “How long should a resume be?” at the outset of their job search. For years we’ve been told that any resume exceeding one page in length is destined for the trash – but does this still hold true?

The reality is that a number of factors that play into determining how long a resume should be. Your level of experience, your occupation, how many employers you have had, and specialized training or experience requirements are all factors that play a role in determining resume length.  

When deciding on how long your resume should be it’s also critical to know the norms and expectations in your field of work. What makes sense for a teaching position may not be practical for a coding position. That being said we are going to give you a good sense of how long is too long later in the post.

how long should a resume be

The key thing to remember is that resumes are meant to be concise. You need to be laser focused on selling yourself and explaining how you can add value.  It is not the place to delve into the clubs you participated in at secondary school or your fascinating fossil collection.  Not every past experience will be relevant to the job you want right now. The single overriding objective of a resume is to spark enough interest in the hiring manager to be offered the opportunity to interview. 

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

This maxim is especially true of resumes.  You want to demonstrate your full potential with the bare minimum of information. With that in mind let’s consider how long a resume should be at various points in your career.

How long should your resume be? Find out when you need a one page resume and when two pages is better, plus get a free resume writing guide. #resumetips

How long should your resume be?

Consider a one page resume if…

  • You’re a student entering the workforce
  • You’re an early career professional (5 years or less of work experience)
  • You’re making dramatic career changes which make previous experience irrelevant
  • You’ve only held one or two positions with a single employer for a long period of time

If one of these scenarios fits you, you’re in luck because minimalism and prioritization will be forced upon you due to space constraints.  

If you are student applying to your first job than you should include a brief summary statement followed by your education/training. As always, put your best-selling points at the top of the resume.

If you’re making a career shift, address that in the summary paragraph and immediately follow with credentials relevant to the field you want to move into.  

Page real estate is at a premium on a one-page resume, so make use of clear, clean, and clever formatting to get the most out of the space you have. We recommend a two-column resume, like our Modern Resume template to make the best use of space.

modern resume template

Consider a two page resume if…

  • You’re a mid-career professional (5 – 10 years of work experience)
  • You’ve held a large number of positions relevant to the job you are applying for
  • You work in a technical field with extensive training/licensing requirements

The decision to move from one to two pages is significant.  You need to ensure that you have enough high-quality content to fill both pages. You should front load critical information at the top of the first page. Your resume should open with a summary paragraph highlighting your key credentials so the hiring manager’s attention is hooked from the outset.

You can then include older relevant positions, training lists, publications, awards and other important, but less critical, details on the second page. 

All of our resume templates include both one-page and two-page resume templates, so if you’re ready to move from one page to two, we’ve got you covered.

Consider a multi-page resume if…

  • You’re an experienced professional (10+ years of work experience)
  • You’re senior level manager
  • You’re expert in your field who needs to demonstrate depth of knowledge by listing publications and education credentials

The same rules that apply to the two-page resume are applicable for multi-page resumes. It’s critical that the job you’re targeting requires this level of detail in order for you to be a competitive candidate.  Entry level positions generally do not require a multi-page resume, so don’t go there!

If your resume is over three pages consider using addendums, which you can reference in the body of the resume. Alternatively, consider if a curriculum vitae is more appropriate. 

Resume Length: Key Takeaways

Deciding “How long a resume should be?” is the first step in crafting an attention-grabbing resume that will get you the interviews you want and deserve. In this post we reviewed:

  • How to decide on resume length
  • The importance of being concise and condensing material
  • How to front-load key selling points to catch the hiring manager’s attention right away

You need to fine tune your resume to make it stand out from the others in the towering piles of resumes sitting on the desks of hiring managers. And it starts with finding the perfect resume length to showcase your expertise without boring the hiring manager with unnecessary details.

Want more resume writing tips? Join our mailing list and we’ll send you a free copy of The Short & Sweet Resume Writing Guide.

Ryan McGee

Author: Ryan McGee

Ryan is the cofounder of Resume Shift. When he's not writing about resumes, he's leading business operations for a public sector organization, overseeing everything from hiring to finance.

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