What’s the ideal length of a resume? And does it really matter?
Let’s tackle the latter question first. Yes, the length of your resume matters. Hiring managers aren’t known to spend much time reviewing resumes. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that hiring managers spend about 6 seconds skimming a resume.
That’s in its entirety, not by page. So, the longer your resume is, the less likely a hiring manager is to notice everything you bring to the table.
If you want to increase your odds of getting that interview, you must make sure your resume is tightly-constructed and that key pieces of information are easy to find/read.
Now, let’s discuss the ideal length of a resume.
This really depends. The main goal of a resume is to highlight your experience and accomplishments. It should tell your employment story and showcase all the relevant skills you have to offer. For many, that could be one page. For some, that could be two pages. And for a few, that could be three pages.
Confused? Don’t worry. We’re here to help.
Here’s how to determine how long your resume should be:
Use one page if:
You are able to highlight all of your skills, accomplishments and general experience on one page, without sacrificing any important information, or anything you are particularly proud of.
There are different resume formats you can use to do this. Two popular ones are the functional resume style and the combination resume style. Both focus on spotlighting skills and achievements rather than itemizing job duties from previous roles.
This is often considered the ideal resume length because it’s typically easy to read – and there’s no looking for second, or third, pages. Not to mention that it’s perfect for a hiring manager with a quick eye.
It might seem daunting to get your resume down to one page, but it’s doable – without manipulating font and margins. Just remember to focus on what really matters, and what skills are necessary for the role you are interested in.
Use two pages if:
You have great experience relevant to the job you’re interested in, but it won’t fit on one page.
While a one-page resume is ideal, a two-page resume is totally acceptable – especially if you have extensive skills and experience that are a match for the role you’re applying to. In those situations, you don’t want to limit yourself to one page. (That said, if your second page is little more than a couple of sentences, find a way to fit it all on one page.)
There is something important to consider if you are going to have a resume longer than one page: According to Monster, the second page of a resume doesn’t typically get as much attention as the first.
So, if you have a two-page resume, make sure that your main accomplishments and skills are clearly highlighted on the first page of your resume, and that anything on the second page simply supports the first. (Combination and functional resume formats can help you with this.)
Use three or more pages if:
You are applying to senior leadership, research, scientific, or government roles.
Typically, situations where you will need a three-page resume occur later in your career when you’ve accumulated a lot more experience, skills and accomplishments. Or when you need to highlight information in a very specific way for a certain role.
But please keep in mind that a three-page resume is rarely, if ever, recommended.
Remember, you have a limited amount of time to capture a hiring manager’s attention and a three-page resume is likely to turn them off – if it’s not a high-level position.
As with most things, the ideal length of a resume depends on your situation – and your experience. The most important thing is that your resume clearly highlights your skills that are relevant to the position and emphasizes the unique value you can bring to an organization.
Interested in more resume help? Check out our article: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Stand-Out Resume. It outlines what resume templates to use, what information to include (or omit), how to showcase promotions and achievements, and how to add the finishing touches to your resume.
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