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Only about 2% of submitted resumes result in an interview, and with the increase of remote work, job applicants can come from anywhere. For job searchers, this means that your resume needs to stand out and capture a hiring manager or recruiter’s attention.
Recent data suggests that applicants have just six seconds on average to capture the attention of hiring managers with their resume which means that having a resume that stands out in a positive way is key. Unfortunately, if you ask two hiring professionals how resumes should be, you’re likely to get two different responses.
Instead of a cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approach, job seekers should take a more personalized approach. In most cases, answering the question of ‘how long should a resume be’, depends on the person, the industry, the company, and the position.
Benefits of a Longer Resume
There are benefits to having a longer resume whether it is viewed by a human hiring manager or AI program. A longer resume will include a more complete job history and can showcase a wider variety of experiences or add depth to important roles or accomplishments. By its nature, it will also include more keywords that can help to stand out in a crowded applicant pool when your resume is viewed by keyword-searching candidate tools.
Benefits of a Short Resume
Nearly a quarter of hiring managers spend less than 30 seconds looking at a single resume. This means resumes that can convey their messages in a clean, concise way have a better chance of scoring an interview than those that are so packed with information they’re unreadable.
Determining ‘How Long Should a Resume Be?’
There are a lot of factors that can determine how long your resume should be. A resume doesn’t have to be just a list of job titles and duties but should help to paint an accurate picture of who you are as a person in addition to showcasing employment history. If you spend your time volunteering or pursuing a passion, highlighting it on your resume can help to give potential employers a more complete idea of your skills and aptitudes.
The ideal resume length is long enough to fully explain your experience and short enough to keep the reader interested and wanting to know more about you in an interview.
How Many Pages Should a Resume Be
Now that more resumes are submitted online, page length is not nearly as important as it once was. Most recruiters and hiring managers agree that one or two pages are the ideal resume length. For some, having more than two pages can be a red flag — 17% of hiring managers won’t look at a resume over two pages, however, your personal depth of experience will dictate how long your resume should be.
Guidelines for a 1-page resume
One-page resumes are perfect for showcasing your skills and experience in a neat and concise way. One page is the perfect resume length if you’re just beginning your career or making a change to a new field.
A resume should always be tailored to the position you are seeking. If you’re making a major career change, a one-page resume that’s well laid out and highlights transferable skills like project management or customer service will often serve you much better than a detailed, multi-page, jargon-filled resume based on your previous position.
When is it acceptable to have a 2-page resume?
Two-page resumes are great for professionals with a lot of deep, relevant experience. Recent data has shown the ideal resume has between 475-600 words, which can look too busy for just one page meaning a two-page resume may be a better option for modern job hunters.
Applicants looking to acquire senior or leadership position should also consider having a two-page resume to highlight all the accomplishments that qualify them for the position.
Resume Length and Page Formatting
Resumes should not be written with the same formatting as a letter or Word document. White space is critical to making a resume easy to scan at any length, but the exact kind of formatting you choose is up to you.
Proper formatting can help to break up your resume into sections of key information and make the best use of space when using many short, bullet-pointed lists. This improves readability and can be a great way to stand out in a crowded applicant pool.
Resume Length and Font Size
Resume font size is determined by the type of font you use but should be 10 or 12-point for most font faces. It’s acceptable to increase the font size for headings, but font sizing should remain uniform across similar parts of your resume. Do not try to decrease the number of pages by simply making your font smaller.
Resume Length and Font Styles
Resume length can be impacted by the chosen font. The most important thing is to choose a font that is easy to read when printed on paper or viewed on-screen. The classic wisdom when it comes to choosing a font for your resume is to pick something universal and non-offensive like Times New Roman or Arial, but your resume isn’t doomed to a boring, generic font.
There are many font faces that look clean and professional but have enough “flair” to stand out. Fonts like Roboto or Monserrat are familiar enough to be easily scannable but different enough to catch the eye of a recruiter or hiring manager. Script fonts, fonts that look like cursive or calligraphy, and “fun” fonts, like Joker, Comic Sans, and Papyrus, should be avoided altogether.
Changing the font of your resume can be a great way to squeeze just a little extra information onto the page or fill out a resume that is a bit sparse. A simple font change may only help to bring up a line or two, but in many cases, that’s all that’s needed.
5 Questions to Decide Resume Length
The length of your resume should be determined by your experience, but it can be hard to find the line between being complete and rambling. Here are some quick-and-easy ways of determining how long your resume should be.
- Do you have limited work and/or educational experience? One page.
- Do you have extensive experience in the field you’re applying to? Two pages.
- Have you received many awards or accolades in your field? Two pages.
- Are you changing careers and starting in a new industry? One page.
- Have you tried to cut down to one page and can’t do it because you’ve got so many strong points to share? Two pages.
When editing your resume, consider these questions:
- Is this relevant?
You should only include relevant information in your resume. If you’re only experience is not directly related to the position you are seeking, try to focus on soft skills or other transferable skills that make you a good fit for the role.
- Is it recent?
Unless you’re applying for a senior role and have decades of experience, it’s likely you don’t need to include anything from more than 15 years ago on your resume.
5 Tips for Controlling the Length of Your Resume
It can be tempting to list off every position in every company you’ve had throughout your career, but the key to a successful resume is to be concise. Here’s how you can ensure your resume is both complete and concise.
- Use bullet points
Instead of writing a paragraph that includes all the specific job duties you had in previous roles, consider using two to five bullet points that highlight your accomplishments and responsibilities. These bullet points should include quantifiable data such as “Maintained exceptional level of service while serving 20+ customers per hour” or “2x recipient of the employee of the year award” to help showcase your skills.
- Avoid filler words
When editing your resume, one of the first things to go should be any “like”, “a”, “an” or “that” words. If the sentence reads just as well without a word, eliminate it. This will help you to improve the conciseness of your resume as well as help to keep your resume to an appropriate length.
- Remove outdated or irrelevant information and experience
While many job seekers think it’s a good idea to include every role or workplace they’ve ever had, this is a fast way to have a resume that is too long. Remove any experience that is older than 10-15 years or that is not relevant to the job for which you are applying.
- Prioritize keywords
Using keywords has become more important with the increase in the usage of automated applicant tracking systems. Before a recruiter or hiring manager ever sees your resume, it’s likely to have been scoured by a machine. In some companies, many resumes are never seen by a human as the recruiting software analyzes resumes and only allows those it has deemed appropriate for the role to be passed to the decision-maker. Because of this, it is crucial that your resume has the correct keywords for the position and those should be prioritized when making edits.
- Adjust the margins
If you’re worried your resume might be too long, another easy way to claw back some of that space is to adjust your margins. Margins should be between 0.5-1.0 on the left and right, but shouldn’t be less than 0.75 on the top and bottom. This small change can help to eliminate secondary pages and give more space to the text, making it more readable.
There is no hard-and-fast rule about how long a resume should be. Instead, the resume length should be based on the applicant, the position, and the level of compatibility between the two.