Conventional knowledge says that hiring managers will toss any resume longer than one page. Is that true? Why won’t anyone give you a straight answer? How long should your resume be – really?
The truth is there is no written resume page length “requirement.” But a resume longer than three pages will make hiring managers’ eyes roll if you don’t have the experience or portfolio to make it necessary. Nothing gets your application tossed out faster than a rambling resume. If you’re not cautious about ensuring that your resume is clear, concise, and focused, your application may end up at the bottom of the pile. So let’s take a minute and help you self-diagnose. One page? Two pages? Or more? Aim for a clear, concise, organized resume that is as short as you can make it. Then, ask yourself these questions to determine the best length for your manuscript based on career level:
How many years of experience do I have?
If you have fewer than seven years of experience, stick to a one-page resume. Whittle down your job list to the most relevant jobs, duties, and certifications, and organize them chronologically rather than topically, with the most recent positions first. Perhaps you have more than seven years of experience? One to two pages is a good bet. If you can’t cram all of your relevant experience onto one page, carefully organize your second page to include everything that a hiring manager might be looking for. Since hiring managers may not spend a lot of time on that second page, put your most impressive experience on the first page.
If you have more than twelve years of experience in a single industry or with a few employers, consider keeping your resume to one page. Even if your duties changed more frequently, one page is often enough space to condense the most important experiences that are applicable to your goal. Otherwise, two pages is perfectly acceptable.
What kind of position am I applying for?
For entry-level or mid-level positions in corporations or businesses, don’t submit a resume longer than one page. If you’re breaking into a new industry and you have many years of experience in another one, choose the most relevant experience for the new position, and omit the rest. Keep the information streamlined so the hiring manager doesn’t have to wade through your irrelevant experience to know what you can offer.
For C-suite executive positions, use only one page. Top-level managers are stretched thin and likely won’t pursue a novel-length resume. Bullet points are your friend when applying for upper management positions. What does my industry require on a resume? While most industry jobs won’t balk at a one-page resume, pay attention to the resumes that your peers are using to land their jobs. If most are longer than one or two pages, your industry may require more information than a standard resume can accommodate.
For instance, teachers or professors in academia often need a longer resume, because they may be asked to include all of their certifications, relevant research, and publications. Applicants for federal jobs are also required to submit more information than a one-page resume contains. Some creative industries require portfolios that display the applicant’s previous work. Be prepared to provide this information, and tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for.
Rule of Thumb
When crafting resumes for my clients, I personally try to stay within two pages. An initial consult helps me determine whether a client’s situation warrants more pages.
In short, one page is a good rule of thumb for most experience levels, positions, and industries, but if your experience, the position, or your industry calls for more, follow those conventions, and you can be confident in attracting the attention of the hiring managers for your top-choice jobs.