How Long Should a Resume Be? - Ideal Resume Length, Guide & Tips

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A resume is a professional business card. Not only should you take in hand the content and format but also the resume length. It is commonly suggested that resumes should ideally be limited to one or two pages, regardless of whose idea it was. This helps to ensure that the information presented is concise and to the point.

But sometimes, we still see people with a 4-page long resume still successfully nail the job. So, suppose you have many experience to showcase, should you also break the rule? In this article, we will reveal how long your resume should be and some tips to guide you through.

How Long Should a Resume Be?

The right answer is not only about how many pages your resume should be but more about the content quality and readability. This means if your resume is hard to read or contains too much irrelevant information, your resume is more likely to get tossed into the bin. They don't just say "quality over quantity" for nothing, right? 

So let's talk a bit about the content quality: content quality means to be concise and on point, which often equivalent to "short". Let's take a look at these two examples:

"Create overseas marketing strategies to boost brand awareness across different digital marketing channels"

"Help company expand globally via brand awareness. To do this, I created marketing strategies for overseas marketing using different marketing channels such as SEO, social media, email and partnerships."

Both of these sentences convey the same message, but the first is more concise. Recruiters already know what digital marketing channels are, so it's not necessary to mention them when applying for a digital marketing position. While one long and redundant sentence might not do much harm on its own, a resume full of them, combined with unnecessary design, could be detrimental. For this reason, it's often recommended that a resume should be around 1-2 pages long.

Now let's talk about the exceptions; sometimes, the resume can be more than two pages; this can happen for two reasons: (1) the experience and (2) the job essence. Your resume can be a single page, two pages or even more under the right circumstances. There is not one-size-fits-all length.

So, let's take a look at each resume length below and decide the most suitable one:

One-page Resumes

A one-page resume is the most generally accepted length. Recruiters often have to read tons of resumes so the briefer is almost always the better.

Opt for one-page resume if:

  • You are a recent graduate with limited experience regarding your target job.
  • You are changing careers and your previous experience is not relevant to your new industry.
  • You have less than 10 years of professional experience or less than four employers.

🟢 Pros

  • Resume is easy and quick to read;
  • Employer can take a closer look at every content;
  • Resume is short and concise;

❌ Cons

  • Candidates with additional strengths and qualifications might be omitted.
  • Not everyone is a good writer, so when there is limited space, crucial details may be overlooked.

Two-page Resumes

In some cases, individuals may possess numerous relevant experiences and skills that cannot be adequately highlighted in a one-page resume. Therefore, it is advisable to have a two-page resume if:

  • You have more than 10 years of professional experience in your field.
  • Your job requires technical or industry-specific skills and varying qualifications that not all candidates have.
  • You are in a high management position with tons of responsibilities.
  • You are a recent graduate with various internships, summer jobs, or extracurricular activities that could be tied to the job you aspire to.
  • You are in a field that requires demonstration of achievement and specialized training, such as publishing and licensing.

🟢 Pros

  • Many consider a 2-page resume as standard length;
  • Candidates can include relevant work history, skills, qualifications, etc.;
  • More details about personal career development and path can be shown and highlighted.

❌ Cons

  • Resume may content unwanted content;
  • Fitting everything into two pages can lead to formatting challenges like smaller fonts and cramped spacing;
  • Longer resumes may dilute the focus, potential key details might get lost in the bulk of content

💡  Pro Tip: To save time, many companies use resume checkers or ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to screen job applicants. This means that your resume will only be read by recruiters if it passes the software check. If your resume is longer than one page, including more keywords from the job listing can increase your chances of passing the ATS.

Three-page (or More) Resumes

In some cases, a three-page resume can be used. Let's take a look if you fall under this category:

  • You have extensive work history, meaning a long and distinguished career with multiple relevant positions.
  • You're in an industry where it's common for candidates to submit longer, more comprehensive resumes as part of the application process.
  • You have a strong academic background with multiple degrees, certifications, publications, ore research projects may need additional space to highlight these accomplishments
  • If you have held numerous leadership roles or have a track record of significant achievements, a longer resume can help provide necessary context and evidence of your capabilities.
  • When transitioning to a new industry or field, a longer resume can be helpful in connecting transferable skills and experiences.

🟢 Pros

  • A three-page or more resume allows ample space to provide a comprehensive overview of your work experience, skills, achievements, and qualifications;
  • Candidates with long and diverse career paths can effectively showcase their professional journey;
  • Without any constraints on the layout, you have more space to format and design your resume in a more appropriate manner.

❌ Cons

  • Recruiters and hiring managers may have limited time to review a lengthy resumes;
  • A longer resume can cause the employer to lose interest before reaching essential information;
  • There is risk of including unnecessary or less relevant information to fill the space
  • The most critical information is usually expected to be on the first page, and a longer resume might make it harder to highlight key points effectively.

💡  Pro Tip: If you're pursuing an academic career path, or want to apply for a higher education degree, consider a CV (Curriculum Vitae) instead, it will allow you to add more details about your course of life.

10 Tips to to Keep Your Resume in the Right Length

Keeping your resume in the right length can be one of the most difficult part in making a resume, so here are some techniques to maintain a resume in the right length:

💡 Keep role descriptions within 3-5 bullet points.

Bullet points for each position you have been in the past should be on point showing duties and responsibilities, as well as achievements. Furthermore, you can combine it into a single statement so you do not go over 5 bullet points so your resume length is right.

💡 Only list experiences and skills relevant to the position.

Having the right resume length consists in leaving out unnecessary information. Skills and experiences that are not relevant as this not only works against the length of your resume but also employers will find this negative.

💡 Focus on recent experiences.

Recruiters only mind your most recent roles. Expanding your resume length on older roles not only makes it long but also may come across as too long to read and irrelevant to recruiters.

💡 Try different spacings and margin sizes to make more space.

Margin sizes and spacings make a difference in altering the length of a resume. Try experimenting with different spacings between lines and headings. Tweaking margins and spacings can help you attain the ideal resume length you are seeking for.

💡 Remove unnecessary graphics.

Graphics only take up space and will work against your resume length. Also, do mind the ATS recruiters use, and graphics will work against passing the screening process.

💡 Remove the “references” section.

References take more space and these can be provided by email or at the interview. Having this section will just increase your resume length, which may work against you.

💡 Remove the “hobbies and interests” section to reduce the resume’s length.

Things you do during free time can be addressed when employers ask about them during the interview. Including them in your resume in often not necessary, more so if you do not have much space left and your resume is already too long.

💡 Use the right resume action words and keywords to keep your writing concise.

Professionals may ask themselves: How many words should a resume be? While the recommended range lies between 400 to 600 words, it is vital that there are action words and keywords from the job posting to increase your chances of getting hired.

💡 Use an efficient resume layout.

The best resume layout relies on what format you use, which helps to keep it in the ideal resume length. There are 3 common types of resume formats and each fits different career backgrounds.

💡 Try out simpler font types and smaller sizes.

Reducing font size and opting for other types may help reduce your overall resume length. Be careful not to make the font sizes too small that are hard to read.

Cake provides the free online resume builder for any job seeker to easily create a resume and find job. Job seekers can use our free resume templates to quickly craft a professional resume for their job hunt. Take your career journey to new heights - create a resume online (free download) now!

Common FAQs about Resume Length

1. How long should my resume be?

The length of a resume should be between 1-2 pages. If the most relevant information (e.g. skills, work experience, education) can fit a single page, that is even better.

2. How many pages should my resume be?

Aside from not exceeding two pages, the length of a resume relies on your background. For experienced professionals with multiple roles, a 2-page resume works well. For freshers, career changers, or people with gaps in their background, a 1-page resume would be the ideal length.

3. How long should a professional resume be?

The best practice is to not exceed two pages. 

4. How many words should a resume be?

The recommended word count range is 400-600 words.

5. How long should a federal resume be?

A federal resume can be made of several pages. When applying for jobs in the private sector, the length of a federal resume can be three to five pages.

6. How many years should be on a resume?

A resume does not need to exceed 10 years of relevant experience. Keep the number of years below 15 years.

7. How long should a resume summary be?

A resume summary should not be a long paragraph, so stick to 4-5 lines.

8. How long should an objective be on a resume?

An objective statement should not exceed 6 lines. Objectives tend to be slightly longer than resume summaries because it further shows what are your goals and how you will benefit the company.

9. Is it ok to have a 2-page resume?

Yes, as long as it only shows relevant skills and experiences.

10. Is a 3-page resume too long?

The best practice is to keep your resume length as short as possible. Resumes exceeding 1-2 pages are ok under certain situations, such as applying for a federal job or academia.

11. How long should a CV (Curriculum Vitae) be?

CVs are used in academic positions and scientific jobs, and there is no specific limit. It can be composed of several pages. It is important to note that job application CVs and resumes are documents that are interchangeably used in some parts of the world, therefore they are regarded as the same. Depending on where you are applying for a job, make sure to check which type of document they are asking for.

Conclusion

Now that you know everything about resume length, you can start create your resume with our resume writing guidelines. Remember, if there's anything we want you to take away from this article is that the best length for your resume depends on your current status as a professional. 

Bookmark this article in case you might need it in the future!

🔑  Key Takeaways:

  • The best resume length relies on your past work history and each length has its pros and cons.
  • The best practice for anyone in job hunting is to keep the resume length as short as possible in order to not overwhelm the readers. 1-2 pages are enough for most types of jobs. 
  • Each section influences a resume’s length. Removing unnecessary sections and trying out different layouts, fonts, and margins can help you keep your resume short and concise.
  • Resumes can exceed 2 pages under certain job types and situations, such as academia, scientific research, or federal positions.

--- Originally written by Jose J. Rosales ---

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