Writing an effective resume is something both the experienced and those fresh from college struggle with, something that can be frustrating. Some HR experts argue that a resume should have a maximum of two pages; others suggest a single page. I was curious about the confusion; that’s why I delved and went through multiple sites to find the truth. Here’s what I found.
So, how long should a resume be? While it’s difficult to recommend a specific length, the best resume should be concise and convey your worth. A resume should have a length that entices hiring managers to call you for interviews.
Although it’s impossible to determine a specific length, that doesn’t mean you should write a long resume that hiring managers will find useless. Certain factors like years of experience, industry and the type of job determine how long your resume should be. In this article, we evaluate factors that should dictate your resume length.
When Should Your Resume Be One Page?
How long should a resume be if you don’t have a wealth of experience to show? A one-page resume is ideal if you have just graduated, whether in high school or college. At this point, your resume should focus on relevant experience which includes volunteer work and school projects, skills, and coursework.
Also, if you have less than two years of experience, your resume should be one page in length. For example, if you’re applying for a similar position, it’s essential to have relevant experience. Do away with any experience that doesn’t match the job you’re applying for to maintain the length.
You need to keep your resume to one-page if you plan to make a career change and the new career path doesn’t require experience. For example, if you’ve been working as an engineer for ten years, but you now need to transition and start a career in business development, your experience as an engineer is irrelevant.
You need to create a one-page resume with details of your business development experience whether it’s in training or work.
When Should Your Resume Be Two Pages?
Majority of people fall under this category. The length is perfect if you have two to over twenty years of experience. Although those with more than ten years of experience may find it difficult to include all the details in two pages, it’s possible to cover everything in two pages.
Hiring managers spend at least six seconds looking at your resume. A long resume may be distracting if the hiring manager has multiple resumes to review.
A two-page resume also works well if you are an award-winning student. You may have honors, tons of class projects, publications, awards, work experience, and extracurricular activities that may not fit in a single page. You may need a two-page resume if you must include specific sections on your resume.
Exceptions to the Resume Length Rules
You’ll realize that specific changes in your career may make it difficult to settle for one-page or a two-page resume. Depending on your career change, you may either transition to a one-pager from a two-page resume.
Also, the result can be vice versa if you have multiple published works, several consulting gigs that state your experience, list of technical skills, or other proficiencies. If this is the case, you may have a three-page resume.
Your resume may also exceed two pages if you’re using an academic resume format to seek work in sciences or academia. Using an international resume to apply for vacancies outside the United States may also make your CV longer.
Essential Tips to Write a Concise and Relevant Resume
Always remember that your resume is a marketing tool and not your autobiography. Your resume should address who you are as a person, what experiences you bring, and your motivation for the position. It should also discuss what impact you’ll bring to the role. Below are some tips to help you trim your resume to the proper length.
Only Include Relevant Experiences
While it’s crucial to check the length of your resume, you need to understand what sets you apart from other candidates. Your content will make the difference between getting your resume read and it being discarded.
Only include experiences and positions that are relevant to the job. Sometimes you don’t need to add high school details. Also, you need to do away with any college extracurricular if you an experienced professional with over ten years of experience.
Cut Down Your Personal Statement or Career Objective
Don’t overdo your career objective or opening summary. Be descriptive in regards to your collective knowledge and experience. Avoid me-focused career objectives or mission statements that state your intention to find a fulfilling career with growth opportunity.
The top third of your resume should only include your impressive accomplishments and recent experience.
Avoid listing your street address at the top or including references at the bottom of the document.
However, if you graduated from college or if you’re looking for a job in a different industry, this rule exempts you. For example, if you went for an internship years ago, and this information is relevant to the position you’re applying for, then include it on your resume.
Use Different Format Technique to Get to the Right Resume Length
Sometimes all you need is to experiment with different fonts, check for spacing between the paragraphs, and adjust your style to get to the appropriate resume length.
You can use various font styles like Calibri, Arial Narrow, Trebuchet MS, and more. Fonts like Arial, Verdana, and Times New Roman take up more space. Margins and spacing can also dictate the resume length. Try decreasing the margins to 0.5 and the spacing between 0.5 to 1 points.
Ensure that the resume is easy to read as you experiment with various spacing and font options.
Also, avoid using bullet points carelessly. Although bullet points make your text scannable. Overusing them take up a lot of space. Look for points that you can combine to form a single sentence.
Some resume experts advise you to move the left edge of the bulleted content with the text of other lines; this extends past the margin. With this, you still create an easy to read resume and save space.
Do away with unnecessary section headers as they waste space, instead of having separate sections for volunteer and professional experience. Consolidate them under one experience section.
Although you may be tempted to shorten line spacing or trim margins, overdoing it could get your resume thrown in the trash. Always preserve readability even when editing your resume.
Consolidate Contact Information
Some people make the mistake of including all details of their address, the street they live in, and more. Avoid separating your email address, phone number, and social media accounts by line. You can use vertical bars to divide this information on one line.
Customize Your Resume Based on the Job Description
An effective resume should address how you’ve been working towards the job you are applying. Before drafting your CV, take time to study the job description to identify keywords qualifications, and experiences you need to include.
Go through each line of your resume to determine if it’s relevant to the job description. If it’s distracting, eliminate it.
Use a Master Resume to Write a CV for Each New Job
Drafting a CV from scratch is tiresome and time-consuming. What’s more, you may end up with a longer resume. You can reduce your stress by creating a master resume. In this resume, list all the skills you have, experiences, proficiencies, and qualifications you have.
With the master resume, you can create a tailored resume that will help you get to the proper length.
Always Include Keywords
Most hiring managers scan resumes for keywords. Keywords are priority phrases that act as a requirement for this position. Keywords can be anything from accomplishments, years of experience, specialties, language, and anything the employer is interested in finding in a potential candidate.
The job description has all the keywords relevant to the position. You can edit your resume to include these keywords and eliminate those that don’t add value.
Avoid Using Unnecessary Words
Most people make the mistake of using vague words and passive sentences, something that lengthens your resume. Avoid using weak words like in charge of, responsible for, and similar words on the resume.
Always use active voice when drafting your resume. Use action verbs like serve as, coordinate, analyze, assess, monitor, reduce, and more. Stay away from overused adjectives like driven, seasoned, exceptional energetic, and the likes.
Write Your Resume with the Employer in Mind
You should create your resume with your potential employer in mind. Remember that your resume needs to address what you can do for the employer, what you’ve done before, and what impact you’re looking to bring to the company.
Ask for Help
Sometimes all you need is a career coach to help you draft a professional resume. Also, you could consider asking your friend to help you trim the resume to ensure that it only contains relevant details.
There are a few best practices when writing a resume, including answering the question, “how long should a resume be.” Hopefully, these tips were able to give you someplace to start in your resume writing and formatting.