Many professionals grapple with determining how long their resumes should be. It’s a careful balancing act—too little information, and recruiters may not be convinced of your value; too much, and recruiters may lose interest in your application before they can properly assess your qualifications.
To further complicate things, when it comes to how long your resume should be, one size does not fit all professionals. What works for someone who recently graduated from college will not necessarily be adequate for a seasoned professional. The following resume length tips will help you decide the ideal number of pages for your application and show you how to curate your resume content to meet these guidelines.
Entry-level employees: Keep it to a page
Most professional resumes written for the U.S. job market (international CVs, academic CVs, and federal resumes are written with a different set of rules in mind) are between one and two pages long. If you’re new to the workforce or you recently made a major career change, employers expect to see a one-page document. This is because, more often than not, professionals in either of these situations don’t have a long and relevant work history to showcase on a resume. One page is all you need to pitch your value, summarize your skills, and provide proof of these abilities within the “Work Experience” and “Education” components of your resume.
Mid-level professionals: Two pages is OK, but stay relevant
While no set rule determines when a resume should graduate to a two-page document, it typically occurs once a professional possesses seven or more years of experience. Again, this will vary depending on how many jobs were held within the timeframe, how relevant each position is to the professional’s current job goals, and what the professional was able to accomplish during that time. The more (relevant) achievements you have to brag about, the more resume real estate you can dedicate to that position.
Established professionals: Keep it to two pages
If you are a senior professional with an extensive work history, it can be difficult to cull your resume down to two neat pages that succinctly sum up your value and showcase your qualifications. However, it can be done! Start by limiting your work experience to the past fifteen years. Any work history that falls outside this window can be summarized with a “Career Note” or a short “Earlier Career History” section toward the end of your resume that lists your employers’ names and the job titles you held. Click on the following link to view samples of each resume-length technique. Truncating your work experience in this fashion will go a long way to getting your resume to meet the two-page limit.
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No matter what, tailor your resume to your goals
Your resume is an important part of your personal marketing campaign during the job search. Rather than include every detail about every position you’ve ever held, carefully curate the content of your resume based on your job goals. Reevaluate each job in your “Professional Experience” section to determine which responsibilities, contributions, and accomplishments showcase your qualifications for your desired position. This will help you eliminate unnecessary details that both detract from your value and push your resume beyond its appropriate length.
If you know how long your resume should be but are still having trouble condensing it to the appropriate length, try playing with the size of the margins and fonts. You can decrease the margins around your document to as little as 0.5 or 0.7 inches without compromising the overall design of your resume. Depending on the font type you’ve selected, you may be able to decrease its size by 0.5 or 1.0 point. Be careful, though—if your font size becomes too small, you risk turning your resume into an eye chart for the viewer.
Use these resume length tips to edit your resume, and you’ll soon be on your way to accepting a new job offer!
Amanda Augustine is a career advice expert for TopResume, the largest resume-writing service in the world. TopResume offers a range of resume-writing services including expertly-written and keyword-optimized resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. It is currently offering a free resume review to help you condense your resume to the right page length and land your dream job.