Job seekers, pay attention! If you want to be a candidate whose resume quickly rises to the top of the pile, you need to consider the ideal resume length.
How many pages should a resume be? The answer might surprise you- perhaps because there is no single best answer! In fact, resumes can be all kinds of lengths, with many existing as a single page while other two-page resumes quickly rise to the top of the pile.
So, whether you’re making a resume with no experience or you have tons of accomplishments to list, here’s what you need to know about the ideal resume length – how does yours stack up?
How Long Should A Resume Be?
There are many resume format options out there, and it used to be standard conventional wisdom that a resume should be just one page. However, that is rarely the case. In today’s job market, a one-page resume seldom makes the cut. Most hiring managers like to see resumes that are at least twice that length.
Rather than being restricted by a one-page limit, you may want to focus instead on keyword optimization. Your resume should include a strong mix of terms and relevant skills that can help support your qualifications. While a one-page resume is appropriate in some settings – which we’ll address momentarily – it can often cause you to sell yourself short.
By restricting yourself to a one-page resume, you may find that you are omitting important information and keywords that very well could land you the job of your dreams.
Is A One Page Resume Too Short?
In most cases, you’re going to want your resume to be much longer than one page. There are circumstances, however, in which a one-page resume is appropriate.
Did you just graduate from college? Applying for your first job? Maybe this is the first resume you’ve ever made, or perhaps you are applying for a job or to an industry that recommends only using a single page to detail your skills.
In that case, a one-page resume is perfectly fine. You might be able to get by with just one page because that’s all you need to effectively market yourself. A one-page resume is easy to scan with the human eye so it’s also a good fit for in-person events like networking events and job fairs where precision and a quick read are key.
Is It Okay To Have A 2 Page Resume?
Most job seekers are encouraged to keep their resumes at or around two pages. The exception is if you have zero work experience. If you have a two page resume and are still in high school, there’s a good chance that your resume has a ton of filler words and information that, frankly, nobody needs to read about.
A two page resume is the standard length, since it will have room for all the keywords, skills, work history, and other details you need to include. A two-page resume is ideal if you are not a first-time job seeker and if you are submitting a resume online (which tends to be the case for the vast majority of job applicants).
You can also use a two-page resume if it’s something you’ll be handing to a hiring manager to scan over at a later time. A two pager will help show the progression of your career and may have room for things like a career highlights section or a professional summary, too. Don’t worry about an objective – those have more or less gone by the wayside.
Is 3 Pages Too Long For A Resume?
The ideal resume length, as mentioned above, is right around two pages. However, a two page resume may not cut it in some situations – in these events, three page resumes might be more appropriate.
These circumstances that dictate a longer resume length are rare – and in most cases, it’s more about the content of your resume than the number of pages, anyway. Often, the information you might include on a resume this long would be better suited for a CV or for a detailed LinkedIn profile.
Here’s when a three-page resume makes sense.
Are you a high-level executive? Employed in a very technical field?
If you’re a scientist with decades’ worth of experience, for instance, you’re likely going to need much more than two pages in order to detail all of your published work, education, and studies. If you are trying to create an executive resume, similarly, you’ll need more space in order to showcase the progression of job titles you’ve enjoyed in your career.
Don’t get a three-page (or longer) resume confused with a CV, though. A CV, or curriculum vitae, is common for job seekers who are applying for jobs outside of the United States. You may write a CV if you’re applying for a job in the medical or academic field. A federal resume also tends to be longer than three pages.
What Should Your Resume Have On It?
Not sure whether the information you have on your resume should stay put – or if you should click “delete?” Here are some tips on what you should include in a resume of any length.
Your work history is something that should take front and center when it comes to creating your resume. Whether you have just two years of experience or 10 years of experience, it’s important that you include any and all relevant work history in your final resume.
When it comes to how long a resume should be, it’s important that you condense the work history above into only relevant work history. Often, two page resumes could actually be much shorter – often, a candidate assumes that the longer the resume is, the better. However, many page resumes only have their place in more competitive industries, like medicine.
Keep yours short and relevant – make sure it’s punchy!
The education section isn’t a must-have feature in a resume, but it’s a good one to include in almost all cases. If you can fit information about where you went to school and what your GPA was (if it was higher than a 3.0) this might show your dedication to the field. Including information about extra classes and certifications you have achieved might show you are a good fit for a job, too.
Background And Contact Information
Include basic contact information on your resume as well, even if this makes it many pages. You’ll want to include a mailing address, phone number, and email address, at the very least.
How To Get Your Resume To The Right Length
If you don’t think your resume is long enough – or sometimes worse, if it’s too long – these are some tips that will help you get it to a more appropriate length.
Focus On Recent, Relevant Work Experience
First, make sure you aren’t including work experience on your resume that doesn’t have a whole lot to do with your future plans. Don’t include the internship you had 20 years ago or the brief stint you had working at a temp agency if you don’t think they add to your current goals.
Similarly, if you had multiple work experiences that all were similar in their duties, you may want to consider including just the most recent experience. In general, you should eliminate jobs from your resume that were from more than 15 years ago.
Most people don’t include graphics on their resumes anymore – thankfully, that’s a trend that’s more or less now a thing of the past. However, if you don’t fall into that group, it’s important that you get rid of any cutesy graphics and logos from your resume. Not only can they translate poorly when it comes to submitting a resume online, but it can also clutter your resume and detract from more important information – like your work experience!
Do Not Use Photos Or “Photo Alternatives”
Your resume should not contain a photograph of yourself or any other photo alternatives – stick to text online. A recent trend in creating resumes is in using Bitmojis or other photo alternatives. While these can certainly showcase your more creative side, they aren’t going to translate well, as they’ll turn into jumbled nonsense to an ATS. They have no place on a professional resume, to say the very least.
Combine Similar Bullet Points
Read through your finalized resume and see if there are any spots where bullet points can be consolidated – or if your resume is too short, where you might be able to add bullet points.
Remove The References Section
Resumes no longer require a list of references. “References available upon request” is a redundant term as it’s assumed that you have references and will be able to provide them when asked. Rather than including this statement, include a separate reference document so you have all that information in one convenient place when you are asked.
Get Rid Of Hobbies And Interests (Unless You’re Short On Material!)
There are some situations in which listing your interest and hobbies can help you get noticed – but some of these may have a negative impact based on the potential personal biases of your audience. In most cases, it makes more sense just to leave them out.
However, if you’re short on material and are looking for some “safe” hobbies to include, consider adding things like musical talent, physical activities, and community-focused works, as well as those that connect closely to the job to which you’re applying. Avoid including any that showcase your political or religious affiliation.
Use Active Voice (and Always, Good Grammar!)
A resume should always be written in active voice – this will better showcase your ability to connect your work experiences with the impact it made on previous positions. Avoid pronouns and always, always, always proofread it to make sure it’s written with proper spelling and grammar.
Change The Formatting
Take another look at your resume and see if there are any spots where you can change the formatting to make your resume the proper length. Does it have wide margins or a large font? Get rid of these to make your resume more condensed and easier to read.
Don’t Be Afraid Of White Space
Filler words are the enemy – and while too much white space on your resume might look odd, a little bit is nothing to be afraid of. Keep tailoring your resume until you find the sweet spot!
Other Tips For Writing The Perfect Resume
When it comes to showcasing your professional experience and landing job interviews for the career of your dreams, having a resume that is the right length is key. Knowing what to include in your resume can help make your job search all the easier – and it can prevent your resume from ending up in the “slush” pile.
If you’re still not sure how to craft the best resume after reading these tips, consider hiring a professional resume writer. While you should avoid resume writing services, as these companies tend to charge you on a monthly basis rather than just a one-time fee, a resume writer can help you create a resume that showcases all of your skills, experiences, and talents – and that is the right length for the job you want to land.