You might have years of experience and first-class education. But if your resume doesn’t show and prove your *skills*, other candidates will outperform you.
How long should a resume be?
Some experts say 1 page, while some say 2 or 3 or more. Some say "it depends."
Why the confusion?
Things are changing. In the past, we used fax machines and paper. Like socks in a dryer, second pages could go missing.
These days, we use email. Also, Applicant Tracking Systems make it easier to submit a two page resume, or longer.
But that still doesn't mean we're in the wild, wild West, where resume length is up for grabs.
You still need to impress the hiring manager fast. Plus, show enough achievements to prove your muscle. That's why resume length is such a struggle.
This guide gives the answers to:
- How long should a resume be?
- How many pages should a resume be?
- How far back should a resume go?
- How to balance resume length against achievements.
Here's a sample resume made using our resume builder.
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Got more questions about how long your resume should be? We'll cover how long a resume can be, how long a resume should be, college resume length, and more.
Resume Length Facts
Exactly how long should a resume be? The table below shows the top-line resume length info.
It won't tell you exactly how long every resume should be. That said, a quick read-through should tell you how long to make your resume.
|How long should a resume be?||1 page for most applicants|
|How many pages should a resume be?||1–2+ pages (based on experience)|
|Why resume length matters||Conveys level of experience|
|Should resumes be one page?||For <7 yrs experience, yes|
|How long can a resume be?||10 pages in extreme cases|
|How far back should a resume go?||Slightly further than job offer says|
|How long should a CV be?||No more than 2 pages of A4 (for most candidates)|
How Long Should a Resume Be?
The best answer for how long can a resume be in 2020 is:
It should be as short as possible and still convey your worth.
For most job seekers, that means one page. That's true for anyone with less than 7–10 years of relevant experience.
How many pages should a resume be?
A resume should be 1 page for most, 2 for some, and more for a few. It depends who you're up against.
If someone else can prove they fit the job in one page, use one. Need more to show your impressive achievements? Use 2+.
Resume length and why it matters
Here's why resume length matters. Let's say you're a sales manager. You've worked two jobs, and achieved 7 really impressive things. (Like: Doubled revenue in 5 years.) You should be able to say all that in a single page. More "wow," less words.
Should resumes be one page?
Resumes don't have to be one page. What if you've got hundreds of accomplishments that can't be boiled down? For example, you're a project manager. You've done 35 unique projects, each with its own standout achievements. Nobody will fault you for a 3-page resume.
How long can a resume be?
A resume can be one page or two pages. But is a 3-page resume too long? What about a 4-page resume?
Got enough unique, related achievements to fill four pages without repeating? (And is each one impressive?) Write a longer resume.
So, how long is a resume anyway?
Confused about resume length? Good. Here’s the bottom line. Forget the idea of resume length.
Focus on customizing your resume to the job offer and prove you fit the job by showing related accomplishments. If you can do that in one page, definitely do. If a single page makes you look too light for this particular career, add more achievements.
A resume should go back longer for jobs that need heaps of experience. If the job description says "3–5 years of experience required," don't list 20. Some studies suggest that overqualified candidates might have a harder time getting hired. Either way, list only relevant experience.
How long should a resume be for college?
How long should a resume be for a college student? If you solved Fermat's last theorem, created fusion in a lunchbox, and logicked the wings off a dragonfly, you'll need a 2 page resume or longer. The rest of us can use a single page.
Feel like there's just too much to keep in mind when writing your resume? We've got you covered. Get our free checklist and make sure you always submit a perfect resume that gets you the job: 46 Things You Need To Do Before You Send Your Resume
Pro Tip: What length of cover letter do you need? In most cases 2/3 of a page is perfect, though there are some pretty big exceptions. See our guide on cover letter length right here.
Need a one-page resume? Write a short resume fast that's tailored to the job and gets more interviews. Learn all the crucial resume rules fast. See our guide: Should a Resume Be One Page? How to Make It a Single Page [+Tips]
Resume Length Perfected in 3 Easy Steps
How can you make your resume the right length?
If you follow the resume length rules below, it won't matter whether you've got a 1-page resume, a 2-page resume, or longer. Why?
Because your resume length will self-regulate like it's got a job-search thermostat.
Keep it Moving
To paraphrase JFK: ask not, "How long should a resume be?" but "How can you keep it interesting?" Don't get bogged down with long descriptions of responsibilities. Managers skim resumes, often in six seconds. Be brief, and stick to achievements.
Keep it Relevant
Have I said this before? It must be true. Don't put anything in your resume that doesn't make this hiring manager say, "Wow."
Build your resume with achievements that prove you've basically already nailed the job. Doing that will keep your resume short and engaging.
Condense, Condense, Condense
Don't repeat the same achievement over and over. Rather than saying you trained five employees in Lean Principles, two in Agile, and 15 in Six Sigma, say you trained 20+ employees in techniques like Lean, Agile, and Six Sigma. That uses up one bullet point.
Use Font, Spacing, and Margins, but Don't Go Overboard
Yes, you can make resume fonts smaller, fiddle with line spacing and margins. But don't torture your resume layout so much it looks like a black sheet of paper. Some extra resume length is okay vs threatening the hiring manager with a wall of words.
A Few Impressive Achievements Beats a Long List of Responsibilities
Avoid listing all the many things you were responsible for. Not only will that make your resume too long, it's boring.
"Cut inventory costs by 35%" beats "In charge of inventory management" any day. So, read the job description carefully, then list accomplishments that match.
How many bullet points per job on a resume?
List 3–5 bullet points per job on a resume. Make them 1–2 lines each. Do you really have enough impressive achievements to fill up 30 lines per job? If so, you need a 2-page resume. Make sure to keep them relevant to this particular offer.
Pro Tip: Are you a project manager, an engineer, or upper management? For any job where long experience makes you a better match, longer resumes work best. Just make sure to keep it relevant, and base it on achievements.
End up with a two-page resume? Worried? Here’s everything you need to know: 2 Page Resume: Will It Crush Your Chances? (Format & Expert Advice)
So, What's the Perfect Resume Length?
Asking "How many pages should a resume be" turns up a lot of answers. Remember these key tips:
- Resume length grows with the amount of experience required. For jobs that ask for 7+ years of experience, a 2-page resume is fine.
- Resumes should be one page for most applicants. It all comes down to how many unique, impressive, related achievements you've got in your past.
- How long is a resume? Write 3–5 bullets per job. Go back 10 years for all but senior-level management jobs. Tailor your resume to fit the job description. If you do, the question answers itself.
Want to know more about how long a resume can be? Maybe you've got some great ideas for how far back a resume should go? Give us a shout in the comments! Let's start the conversation!