How Long Should Your Resume Be?
Once upon a time, someone came up with a “rule” that resumes should not exceed one page. No one really knows who came up with the rule, but a great many job-seekers still seem to live in fear of this supposed edict. New grads especially are often cautioned to keep resumes to one page.
The fact is that very few “rules” exist today in the world of resume writing. Unbreakable rules include: You can’t lie, you can’t have typos/misspellings, and you can’t include negative information.
Just about every other rule you’ve ever heard about resumes, however, is breakable, including rules about how many pages your resume should comprise.
Times have changed, after all, as Grant Cooper, president of Strategic Resumes, notes in the Resume Critique Writer software that he authored. “Brief resumes are simply no longer effective in today’s increasingly competitive job market,” he said. “The advice that ‘They only want to see one-page resumes,’ is perhaps the single most outdated and incorrect statement job-seekers hear today.”
But if you’re looking in this chapter for the definitive word on how long a resume should be, you’ll probably be disappointed. We informally surveyed expert members of the leading professional for resume writers about resume length. And their consensus:
This situational view of resume length is pervasive among resume experts. The comments of Marnie McCown-Guard of Profile Career Services are typical: “I have written one-and-half-page resumes for senior-level people with 20+ years of experience, and I have written a three-page resume for a recent college graduate.”
Virtually every expert in our research said each individual situation dictates resume length. From their expertise, however, we developed some guidelines to help you determine the right length for you.
It should be noted that length is primarily an issue that pertains to the traditional, formatted, “print” version of your resume. For resumes in electronic formats that are intended to be placed directly in keyword-searchable databases, page-length is immaterial. So this article’s guidelines apply either in situations where your formatted resume is screened by human eyes without having been placed into a keyword-searchable database or after a keyword search has narrowed the field of applicants.