As a recruiter, one of the top questions people ask me is, “How many pages should my resume be?”
In this article, I’ll explain exactly how long your resume should be… for experienced professionals, college students, and more.
How Long Should a Resume Be?
Your resume should be long enough to include all relevant experience and show an employer that your background and skills are a good fit for their job description.
But you shouldn’t include any irrelevant or unnecessary info beyond this, and you should never put “filler” content or irrelevant content just to increase your resume length.
The only exception is if your resume is less than one page. In this scenario, it makes sense to think about ways to fill one full page, just to have a better-looking document.
For example, if you’re a recent graduate with no work experience, you’d want to fill in more academic details such as projects completed, presentations given, etc.
The bottom line is: There’s no single ideal resume length because it depends on your experience, how many jobs you’ve held in your years of work, your education, the type of role you’ve applied for, and more.
Below, I’ll share more guidelines on choosing whether you’ll likely need one page, two pages, or more on your resume (and I’ll say right now that VERY few job seekers should be using a three-page resume. I’ll explain more below).
Write Your Resume to Impress an Employer, not Hit a Certain Page Count
Your resume should be the shortest amount of pages possible while still communicating your value and relevant experience for the role you’ve applied for.
Your resume should never contain needless words or paragraphs, but you shouldn’t feel restricted to a specific page length or word count if you feel you have more relevant experience, accomplishments, or qualifications to share.
How long should a resume be for a college student?
For the typical student or recent grad beginning their job hunt, a one-page resume is typically enough. It’s almost always possible to put your relevant education, technical skills, internships and past work experience in a single page as an entry-level job seeker.
However, there are exceptions. If you held multiple jobs and internships, or if you’re a Ph.D. student who has published papers and research, then you may find yourself using a two-page resume even as an entry-level job seeker. This is acceptable and will not cost you jobs.
How long should a resume be for a professional?
A professional can usually fit their experience into a one-page resume in the five to seven years of their career. After that, you’ll typically start to need a two-page resume in order to include all of the necessary information. Job seekers who are managers or Executives will need a two-page or even a three-page resume.
Your resume may also have more pages based on how technical your field of work is, whether licenses/certifications are required, etc.
This is why you should follow the tips from the first portion of this article and always think critically about each piece of your resume. Ask yourself, “Is this information helping me prove that I’ll be successful in this next position?” If the answer is, “no,” then consider removing that piece.
Recommended Resume Word Count (Does it Matter?)
Counting the words on your resume is not beneficial in obtaining a new position. This is not a relevant factor for hiring managers and will not help you get more job interviews.
Because of this, there is no exact number for how many words your resume should be, and there is no reason to be tracking your word count when writing a resume.
Focus on highlighting past work, accomplishments, and skills to prove you’ll be ready to step into this next job and succeed. Word count is not relevant.
How Far Back Should a Resume Go?
If you’re an experienced candidate, you may start to wonder how far back your resume should go, too.
So let’s talk about when you can start removing past jobs.
As a general rule of thumb, if a past role isn’t relevant for the jobs you’re applying for now, and is more than 10 years old, then you can remove it.
So if you’re an Executive, you might want to start your resume work history with the beginning of your management career or your first role in your current industry. There’s no need to go back further.
If you feel the job still demonstrates your ability to succeed in the positions you’re applying to in your current job hunt, then leave it.
There’s no set rule for how far back your resume should go. The bottom line is: If a past job is helping you show the company that you’re a great fit, then leave it. If it’s not relevant to your current career and is not helping you win the interview, then cut that experience.
Never Sacrifice Resume Formatting and Readability to Fit a Certain Page Length
As a recruiter, I’ve heard stories of candidates shrinking their font, changing spacing, etc., in order to fit their content onto one page.
Don’t ever sacrifice the readability or the overall formatting of your resume just to fit it into a certain number of pages.
In extreme cases, I’ve seen a candidate shrink their font to a tiny size (like font size 8 or 9) because someone told them, “your resume should be one page long”. That’s bad career advice, and as covered above, it depends on your exact situation.
Focus on sharing valuable content, keep your formatting pleasant, well-spaced, and easy to read for hiring managers, and you’ll get more interviews!
That brings me to my next tip for resume page length and formatting…
Use ample spacing and short, easily-readable paragraphs when writing your resume.
Nothing turns a hiring manager or recruiter off faster than a resume with huge blocks of text. (See example below).
Instead of formatting your resume like the above example, put more content into bullet-format, or split up large paragraphs into two or three smaller paragraphs with some white space in between. (Most people are better off using bullets though, and possibly one short paragraph before each set of bullets to describe the overall role).
For more full resume work history examples, read this article.
Sections to Include on Your Resume to Get More Interviews
Now that you know how long a resume should be, I’m going to share some tips about what to put on your resume if you want to get interviews!
Writing great content on your resume is far more important than worrying about how many pages your resume should be.
And no matter how long your resume ends up being, there are some key pieces to always include if you want to get more interviews. So here they are…
First, you’ll want a great resume summary paragraph. You can find examples here.
Next, make sure you have a GREAT work experience section overall. This is the first place I look on most resumes as a recruiter (I skip right down to it!)
Skills aren’t as important, because employers prefer to see WHERE you used each skill and did each task in your career. So focus mostly on your employment history and bullets to demonstrate your value to employers… However once you’ve done that, a Skills section is still useful to include. It helps you add relevant keywords to your resume and show the company your top skills at-a-glance.
And you’ll also want to include an Education section where you highlight any degrees and certifications you have. Those are the main pieces I’d recommend including.
For more help putting all of this together, read this full article on must-have resume sections and how to title them.
We also have a detailed article going into more detail on what to put on a resume and how to structure/order everything.
So that’s another resource that will help you make sure you’re getting the most out of the space on your resume, whether it’s one page, two pages, or more.
Conclusion: How Long Should a Resume Be?
If you study and follow the advice above, you’ll have an effective resume with the right amount of pages for your situation!
Just remember – your resume is about showing off your most relevant qualifications and skills to land you the interview. Never get wrapped up in counting pages and lose sight of that main objective.
If you get distracted and start worrying too much about how long your resume should be; it will just become a distraction that stops you from writing the best resume possible.
The bottom line: Your resume should be as many pages as necessary to show your relevant qualifications and prove that you will be a great fit for the job you chose to apply for. Once you’ve done that, it shouldn’t be any longer.