How long should my resume be?
Job seekers have been burdened by this problem for a long time and have been drowned in answers that confuse them even more.
This is why candidates struggle to stick within the ideal resume length.
Some career experts say a one-page resume is a standard.
Recruiting managers generally prefer two-page resumes as it enough to show your work history, skills, achievements, education, and other sections.
Some job seekers struggle with resume length so they use a resume with three or more pages to show 15-20 years of experience.
While some professionals would safely say “it depends.”
Resume Length and the chances of getting hired
A resume helps you sell yourself effectively. It should contain enough information about yourself to prove you’re qualified for the position without overwhelming the reader.
Many companies and recruiting agencies in today’s hyper-connected world use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to screen thousands of resumes. The system will most likely accept a one, two, or three-page resume.
After the ATS accepts your application, you still have to impress the hiring manager. So you need to show enough information on your resume that matched the job description.
This article aims to answer these most pressing questions while creating a resume framework for job candidates.
- What is the recommended length of a resume and how to find the right length?
- How many pages should a resume include?
- How far back do you have to go on a resume in terms of experience?
Your resume length can vary depending on your experience, the type of industry, and the job you are applying for.
As most career experts advise, it only takes 6 seconds for your resume to be looked at. So you should write it as concisely as possible.
Here’s a quick guide answering frequently asked questions when writing a resume and how long should it be.
1.Q: How long does a resume need to be?
A: One-page resume is standard for most entry-level applicants or fresh graduates.
2.Q: How many pages should a resume have?
A: 1–2+ pages based on years of experience is the most common practice.
3.Q: What makes resume length so important?
A: It shows the applicant’s degree of experience.
4.Q: How far can you go back on your resume?
A: Career experts recommend making it slightly further than the job description states.
5.Q: Should resumes be limited to one page?
A: Most common practice in recruitment accepts a one-page resume for those applicants with less than 7 years of experience.
6.Q: What is the maximum length of a resume?
A: For rare cases, as many as 10 pages to include years of experience, skills, education, and achievements.
7.Q: Which is better to use: resume vs. CV?
A: The CV presents the history of your academic accomplishments, so it can be as long as you want. Generally, resumes are 1-2 pages in length and provide a concise picture of your skills and qualifications for a given position.
One-Page Resume Myth: Debunked
In today’s job market, one-page resumes are outdated and have become irrelevant, according to most HR professionals, hiring managers, and career coaches.
According to the study, recruiters are surprisingly 2.3x more likely to accept two-page resumes than one-page resumes, regardless of the job level.
Many applicants make these mistakes on their resumes: use fonts that are too small, margins and spacing that are too narrow- all to make their resumes shorter.
The result is an overwhelming wall of tiny text that’s hard to read and skim. Be cautious not to hurt your chances by trying to meet a rule most hiring managers don’t truly consider.
In addition, many job seekers omit important accomplishments or important keywords in an effort to reduce their resume to one page. Because of this, their resumes fail ATS scans and they miss out on important job opportunities.
When should you use a one-page resume?
A one-page resume is recommended if:
- You’re writing a resume for the first time.
- Your target job position or industry requires a single-page resume.
- You are a fresh college graduate.
Why your resume should be one page?
- A one-page resume is usually enough to sell yourself. It is easy to scan by the eye with its simplicity. It may therefore be appealing to recruiters, hiring officers, and HR executives participating in job fairs and networking events.
- When you change careers, your past experiences may not apply entirely to the new position you apply for. In this case, you can start writing your transferable skills and abilities, rather than your previous work experiences.
- Most recent graduates do not have much-related experience. Nevertheless, many graduates may include multiple internships, volunteer work, on-campus activities, and publications in their resumes.
When should your resume be two pages?
Many applicants and career experts prefer two-page resumes as they consider them safer.
It is recommended that you use two pages for your resume to include all your professional experiences, qualifications, and achievements, and to optimize for keywords.
A second page is recommended in the following situations:
- You are considered an intermediate-level candidate.
- Your skills, professional experience, and keywords are enough to fill 2 pages.
- You’re submitting your resume through an online application. The company most probably uses an Application Tracking System (ATS) to filter resumes.
- You are personally handing over a resume to the HR manager.
Again, a resume will have to pass the ATS scan in order for a hiring manager to spend only 6 seconds review/test of your resume.
One particular study explains that recruiters are 2.3 times more likely to prefer a two-page resume.
Why should your resume be two pages long?
- Typically, a resume includes two pages to indicate your career growth and relative experiences. When you have 10+ years of experience, it may be necessary to list down your career highlights or write a professional summary. This is a good way to fit in more key terms to optimize your resume.
- Moreover, for high-level candidates, a two-page resume will also be able to address all their applicable experience, education, qualifications, and additional training.
When should you write a three-page resume?
In general, career experts recommend that you write a resume that should be limited to no more than 3 pages. However, a few exceptions apply. Write a resume with three pages when:
- You’re involved with a very complex and highly technical field that demands long resumes. An additional number of pages are used for publications, presentations, and research projects. Examples are people who work in the following industries: science, medicine, academia, and engineering.
- You’re a high-level or senior-level executive with more than 10 years of experience.
- Your resume has pertinent information that an HR manager will want to see. It depends on your career length, related experience, technical skills, and qualifications. For instance, it’s not unusual for a software engineer in mid-level, while it would be weird for a postal clerk.
- You intend to write a curriculum vitae (CV) for academic purposes or to show the whole course of your career.
Why your resume should be three pages long?
- If you are actually writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) your professional document can be three pages long. This tends to happen more if you’re applying for jobs that are outside of the United States. Additionally, there are other industries that rely on CVs like academia and medical in the US and Canada.
- Additionally, the federal resume templates follow a different format and can be as many as three pages in length.
- A three-part resume is more applicable for an online profile such as LinkedIn or a comprehensive CV.
How far back can you go on your resume?
A resume should go back further for jobs that require relevant and extensive experience.
For example, do not tell employers you have 20 years of experience if the job description requires only “3–5 years of experience”.
Studies suggest that overqualified candidates may have difficulties being hired.
The general rule is to go back no more than 15 years as it is enough to showcase your capabilities and work contributions to employers. Doing otherwise would open the door to discrimination based on the candidate’s age.
If you are applying for a senior-level executive position that requires 20 years of relevant experience, it’s okay to go over 15 years.
For specific industries like IT, it is recommended that you limit your information on your resume to the last 10 years in order to ensure it is relevant. This is because IT is changing so rapidly that applications and software that were used a few years ago become obsolete and are quickly replaced.
How long should your resume be and how to get it right?
Here are some guidelines to achieve the ideal length of your resume:
1. Highlight your most recent and most relevant work experience.
It’s best not to include jobs that are more than 15 years old. Emphasize your most recent, relevant professional experience. Doing so can lessen age bias and maximize your chances.
Make sure the experience you write about matches the employer’s requirements and limit irrelevant information.
Highlight the results of your most recent and relevant experience to demonstrate your abilities and skill.
2. Do not use graphics.
Most resumes with graphics, logos, and images are unreadable by an applicant tracking system (ATS). This is because ATS tends to scramble graphics into confusing lines of codes.
Therefore, keep your resume in PDF or Word format to proceed to the next application step.
If you are applying for a creative role such as graphics artist, you can email your creative resume or hand it in.
3. Use bullet points – avoid block of texts.
Use bullet points on your resume instead of a block of text or paragraphs that are hard to read. Optimize your white space by summing up functions or statements into one bullet point.
- Implemented an email marketing campaign.
- Managed extensive A/B testing.
- Achieved 155% ROI or an equivalent of $11k MRR for SaaS.
Turned this into:
- Implemented and managed email marketing campaigns with extensive A/B testing to achieve a 200 % ROI or an equivalent of $10K MRR for SaaS.
How many bullet points do you put for each job?
- Write 3-5 bullet points per job in your work experience section on your resume.
- Limit each bullet point to 1-2 lines long.
- Keep them relevant to the current offer.
4. Don’t include any references section from your resume.
This sort of information is not necessary on the first step of the hiring process. So don’t list down references or write the statement: “references available upon request.”
Rather, make a separate reference document to hand out when asked. You may bring a printed copy to your interview.
You may also save an email draft with the references’ names, contact information, job titles, and your relationship to each.
5. You should use active voice.
Make sure to emphasize your achievements with an active voice. It helps you connect what you did to your previous achievements.
Your resume will appear more valuable and concise if you use the active voice.
- “I helped achieve …”
- “I am proud that I implemented and managed…”
6. Customize and format.
To fit all relevant information into two pages, you need to adjust the margins, tabs, and justification settings. You should also change the font size and type to adjust the white space.
This way your resume will be engaging and readable. and re have a balanced resume that’s relevant and easy to read.
Take note that using multiple columns can confuse ATS scans which can hurt your application.
7. Keep it short and straightforward.
Make sure all relevant information fits on your resume to reach the ideal length. Take out anything that shows you are not a good candidate for the position.
- There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to “How many pages a resume should be?”. What matters is that information on your resume should be relevant to the job position you’re applying for.
- Be sure that every word counts so you should make your resume as concise as possible.
- Optimize your resume for keywords- it should have a strong mix of skills and terms that support your qualifications.
- Make your resume ATS-scannable in 6 seconds rather than conforming to a limited length.
- Be safe by following the two-page resume format to increase your chances.