As a recruiter, one of the most common questions job seekers ask me is, “how many pages should my resume be?”
There’s a lot of conflicting advice about when one-page resumes are best, when two-page resumes are better, and the main purpose of your resume to begin with! So I’m going to clear this up…
This article will explain how long a resume should be for professionals, college students, and more. After reading this page, you’re going to know how many pages to make your resume.
I’m also going to share some of my BEST tips for how tweak your resume to get more interviews when applying for jobs, so make sure to read until the end.
Let’s get started…
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.
Don’t try to fill your resume with fluff or try to make it longer. No hiring manager is going to decide to interview you because you had a longer resume than someone else.
(I’ll explain the #1 thing they do look for, and the #1 thing your resume must do to get interviews in a second, so keep reading).
The only exception to the rule above is if your resume content is not even reaching the bottom of page one. In that case, try to make your resume fill a full page, because that just looks better.
But otherwise, you should be writing relevant skills, experience, and other qualifications that you feel demonstrate you’ll be a good fit for the role you’ve applied for. (That last part is the key… you always want to be “tailoring” your resume to the job description.)
But once you’ve put all the relevant info you can, stop. Adding irrelevant information just for the sake of making your resume longer is NOT going to impress any hiring managers or recruiters.
Your resume has one main purpose: To show the employer that you have the skills and experience to step into their role and be successful.
So if something isn’t helping you do that, then it’s hurting you (by making it harder for the hiring manager to spot the relevant info)!
For example, if you held an irrelevant job 15 years ago and have built an entirely different career since then, take it off!
Or if you’re listing 25 skills but only 10 are relevant to your current career, take those other 15 off!
By leaving them on there, you’re just making it HARDER for the hiring manager or recruiter to find the relevant info that will make them want to interview you. So by leaving irrelevant info on your resume, you’re costing yourself interviews.
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 PhD 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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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 this, 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 one short paragraph before the bullets to describe the overall role).
For more full resume work history examples, read this article.
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.
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 this job you chose to apply for. Once you’ve done that, it shouldn’t be any longer.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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