How Long Should A Resume Be?

Man smiling while answering questions during an interview with a manager in a modern office

Resumes are a must-have for any job seeker. They provide a snapshot of how qualified you are and how professional you can appear.

Jobs are becoming increasingly competitive with no end in sight. As a result, having a resume that stands out from the crowd has never been more essential.

But how long should a resume be? That is the question we will attempt to answer in this post while providing some tips on how to make it more effective.

What Is The Difference Between a Resume and CV?

We should start by defining the difference between a resume and a CV (a shortening of the Latin “curriculum vitae,” which means “course of life”). These two terms are often used hand-in-hand when describing what job seekers use to summarize their work and education history. Both CVs and resumes:

  • Are submitted to companies/hiring managers/recruiters to help get you a job
  • Describe your work and education history
  • Tailored to the job you are applying for

While both are effective documents, resumes are generally seen as more concise than CVs. After you have some level of experience, a resume should emphasize your work history over education, where a CV may emphasize both work and education history with equal importance and length. Some CVs can be as long as three or four pages long once a candidate has enough experience, where a resume is often much shorter and condensed.

In this post, we’ll focus solely on how long a resume should be.

Why is resume length important?

When it comes to resume length, most job seekers err on the side of caution and submit resumes that are longer than necessary. The truth is you need to only include enough information for someone to understand your qualifications and determine whether they want to call you in for an interview or not.

If a recruiter spends less than 30 seconds looking over your resume, then there’s no chance they will be able to quickly scan through all the important details contained within it. On the other hand, if they spends more than one minute reviewing your document, the chances are good that something else caught their eye. Either way, there isn’t much time devoted solely to reading each line which means any small piece of irrelevant information could be the difference between an interview and a rejection.

How long should a resume be when submitting it?

Applicants want to know precisely how many pages their resume should be. This can be tricky, but let’s break it down even further:

How many pages should a resume be?

An ideal resume should be between one and two pages. It’s critical to tailor your resume to the position for which you’re applying.

For example, if a job listing says it only accepts resumes that fit on a single page, then make sure yours fits on a single page instead of using multiple pages. If they do not state how many pages they prefer, it is usually safe to assume they will accept longer documents. Choose what works best for your situation.

How to make your resume fit the appropriate page length

There are a few ways to ensure your resume is the correct length. You can condense or delete certain sections, shorten your job titles, or remove experience that is not relevant to the position for which you are applying.

Whatever route you choose, make sure the most important and recent information is at the top of your resume. This is what will catch the employer’s attention first. In other words, focus on making sure your content is well-written and organized instead of trying to shave off every word you can.

What should I leave off my resume?

Obviously you want to include as much information as possible on a resume, but if jobs want to see just a one-page resume, there are a couple things you may want to leave off.

This differs for every person and each position, but here are some general rules of thumb to make your resume shorter:

  • An “objective” or “Why I Want This Job” section: These can be left for cover letters or phone screens.
  • A “summary” section: Your job experience and education sections will summarize your history for you.
  • Lengthy descriptions: If your descriptions of job experience, education take up more than three or four lines on a resume, find a way to trim them down or take sections out altogether.
  • Salary history and references: These can all be discussed during the interview process and likely won’t land you an interview if provided on a resume. Rather than list references, you can include a sentence at the bottom of your resume stating, “References available upon request.”

These are just suggestions. If an employer asks for a summary section, leave the summary section in and find other places to trim. We’ll keep repeating it: make sure your resume is tailored for the job you are applying for.

Keep your resume simple

The best way to ensure that your resume is read thoroughly is to keep it to one page. This doesn’t mean you have to include less information but rather tailor your content to be concise and easy to read. Use smaller fonts and condensed spacing if necessary, but remember to maintain a professional appearance.

If you’re applying for a position that requires more specific or in-depth experience than what can be covered on one page, then feel free to attach a supplementary document (no more than two pages). But make sure this additional sheet is mentioned somewhere on your original resume so employers know to review it.

Some people also choose to include an additional skills section at the end of their resumes. This section can list things like software programs you are familiar with, foreign languages you’ve learned, or unique talents you have. If you decide to include this section, make sure all the information provided is relevant to the job for which you are applying.

How far back should your resume go?

This depends on your experience and what you have done during that time. It is very subjective. A good rule of thumb is to go back no more than 10 years, but if you have a wealth of experience and can show how it has benefitted your current career path, then you may go back further. (This is where a CV may be more appropriate.)

Include relevant experience

A good tip is to include every experience you ever had that would be relevant to your career path. You should not include anything unnecessary or redundant.

When listing your experience, be sure only to include information pertinent to the position for which you are applying. If you are a web developer, there is no need to list that you worked as a delivery driver for a pizza restaurant when you were in high school. You can, however, include relevant experience in this position that an employer would be interested in knowing about (for example, being proficient with coding languages).

Create an “Earlier Work History” section for a senior-level resume

For a more senior-level resume that requires a lengthier layout of your job history, you may want to create an “Earlier Work History” section that includes your job titles, company names, and dates. However, don’t include any responsibilities or accomplishments—just the facts will do. This will help keep your resume concise without leaving out important information.

If you have a lot of experience, you may need more than a two-page resume to showcase everything correctly. Regardless of how much expertise you have, keep your resume to no more than two pages. Once it gets longer than two pages, that is when a CV might be better fit to submit (if the company accepts CVs).

The most important information for any professional resume will go on page one. Page two is for other relevant work experiences or education that may not be pertinent to your current job target.

What if I don’t have any work experience?

In this case, list out your education and relevant skills. Ensure that you highlight the courses or seminars that will prove beneficial to a potential employer. You should also include volunteer positions and any other experiences that demonstrate soft skills such as communication and time management. This is where highlighting strengths becomes very important–make sure to point these out in an interview!

How to make a resume stand out

HR manager reading employee candidates resumes piled on office desk with selective focus

Here are some tips to keep in mind when writing your resume and wanting it to stand out to hiring managers:

Hiring managers want clear career stories

When HR looks at your resume, they want a clear overview of your career. They want to see how each position you have held ties in with the next and how your experience has progressed over time. Make certain that your resume tells a narrative.

Use clear and concise language

Make sure that your resume is easy to read using simple, straightforward language. Steer clear of industry jargon and flowery language and stay relevant to your job description. Your hiring manager will not appreciate having to decipher what you are trying to say.

Use bullet points instead of paragraphs

When listing your experience and skills, use bullet points instead of paragraphs. This will make your resume easier to scan, and it will be less likely to go on for too long.

Make sure your contact information is up to date

It’s essential to ensure that your contact information is always up to date. Don’t use your current employer’s email address–use your personal email. Make sure your phone number is easily accessible, and make sure your voicemail is mature and professional in case you miss a call from a recruiter or hiring manager.

Use keywords in your resume

Make sure you consider the role you are applying for when writing your resume and use relevant, industry-specific skills words throughout it (e.g., “customer service” instead of “help desk”). This will show HR managers that you have taken time to research the role and that you are a good fit for the position. Not only that, but it will help you to be algorithm-friendly when applying online.

Proofread, proofread, proofread!

The most essential thing to keep in mind when preparing your resume is thorough proofreading. A mistake on your resume can easily cost you an interview, especially if it is glaring and part of your primary job experience.

For other potential resume red flags, click here.

Keep refining your resume

As you acquire more experience, keep tweaking your resume. Even if you gain more responsibilities at the same job, make sure you resume reflects that experience. This is especially important as you accomplish goals in your professional life. Make sure your accomplishments are as up-to-date as possible.

As your career progresses, make sure that your resume reflects the progression of this experience. (Remember the narrative your resume should have!)

Tailor your resume to each application

Many applicants make one big mistake in sending a standard resume to every company they apply to. Make sure you take the time to tailor your resume specifically for each job to which you are applying. (Told you we would keep repeating this!) This is not the effort many are willing to make, so going the extra mile will give you an edge over others.

Don’t include salary expectations or other personal information on your resume

It would be best to never put anything about salary expectations, necessary benefits, sick days, or anything like this in your resume as it is not relevant to what hiring managers are looking for. The job posting you’re applying for may already define what the salary and benefits offered are. Negotiations and questions on these topics can wait until during an interview or afterward.

Conclusion

So, to answer how long a resume should be, it is best that the length of your resume should be determined by the type of job for which you are applying. For example, suppose you are looking to apply for a position where experience is valued. In that case, it may be appropriate to have a longer resume (no longer than two pages) that showcases all your work history and achievements.

On the other hand, most hiring managers and recruiters are interested in clear, concise resumes that aren’t longer than one page.

Regardless of what type of company you submit your application to, always include critical skills in each section so employers can quickly identify how they could benefit from hiring someone like you!

Now that you know how to sell yourself as a qualified candidate in a resume, take a look at the thousands of job listings posted on the Insight Global job board.