One of the most commonly asked questions about resumes is “how long should mine be?”
Once upon a time, the golden rule was that a resume should never exceed one page in length. Resumes that broke this rule were destined for an unhappily-ever after fate in the garbage (these were pre-recycling revolution days).
Alas, times have changed, and luckily, so have the standards for the proper resume length. Your resume should be long enough that it makes the hiring managers want to call you in for interviews — is that vague enough for you?
Don’t get confuzzled, we’re here to help you.
There’s no one-size-fits all standard for resume lengths, and how long yours should be depends on several factors, like your experience, industry, education and training, number of employers, and your list of accomplishments – among others.
When it comes to the topic of resume length, size does matter. Here’s everything you need to know to write a resume that perfectly fits your needs.
If you’re a recent college graduate, eliminate any references to high school, including awards, scholarships, and extracurricular activities. Yes, your commitment to selling chocolate bars for your school’s Art Club made a profound impact on everyone at the time, but it doesn’t matter here. Employers want to read about your internships, jobs, and the on-campus activities you participated in while enrolled in school.
If you’ve been in the working world for a few years and you’re looking to change industries, it’s probably a good idea to go ahead and get rid of your list of college activities and internships.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. For instance, if you took a job after graduation that had nothing to do with your degree, it would make more sense to list relevant internships you participated in while in school. Remember to tailor your resume so that it relates to your job goals and the position you’re applying for.
The choice to make your resume one or two pages can be a difficult one, and it depends on how much experience and information you have to brag about that relates to the job you’re applying for. If you write out your resume and it only takes up a small portion of the second page, either find a way to shorten it to one page, or add more information to make it at least a full page and a half.
Make sure to lead your resume with a summary of your work experiences so that your key qualifications and selling points are at the forefront of your resume. Your goal is for employers to be able to immediately see your value and want to hang onto your resume. Make your resume something that employers want to hang on the office refrigerator.
Limit the experience you include to the last 15 years — this means excluding your precious college graduation and certification dates that fall outside of this window. Employers are interested in your recent work experience and how it relates to their job requirements.
If you held only one or two positions outside of the 15 year window, or if you’ve held a few very similar roles, you can provide a summarized career note that details these previous jobs and titles. Here’s an example:
If you worked with some name-drop worthy organizations or clients, this is the perfect way to fit them into your resume, but make sure to keep this blurb short and sweet and leave out details like employment dates and locations.
Based on the requirements of the position, job seekers who have a resume that is three pages (or longer) can decide whether to send the full document or just the first two pages to potential employers.
If you’re trying to make your information and experience fit into one or two pages, there are several ways to adjust your resume and give everything room to fit.
When making your resume fit a one or two page standard, consider eliminating other information, like a reference section or a note such as “References Available Upon Request.” This is unnecessary and only takes up prime real estate.
Throw it in the metaphorical garbage.
There’s also really no need to include your street address at the top of your resume. If you’re applying for a local position and want the employers to know that you’re in the area, you can just include your city and state.
Leaving off your street address will also help protect you from identity theft. On a similar note – don’t include your social security number. Just don’t do it, promise?
Remember to keep the information you include relevant to the job you’re applying for. If need be, go back and tailor your resume so it fits the needs of another job you’re applying to.
Make sure that your resume fits your experience. If you’ve only been on the job market for 5 years or if you’ve recently graduated from college, there’s no need to have a three-page resume.
Now that you have all the information you need on how to write a resume that fits your needs, get out there and write a resume good enough to get into the National Gallery of Perfect Resumes! Does that even exist? Well, if not — write one that’s good enough to land you a job! Yay!