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How long should a resume be? Some experts say “1 page”, others say "it depends." Why the confusion?
Things change. In the past, we used fax machines. Like socks in a dryer, pages would go missing. These days, we use email. Applicant Tracking Systems make it easier to submit longer resumes. Which doesn't mean we're in the wild, wild West, where resume length is up for grabs! So, let's figure out once and for all how many pages should a resume be.
This guide gives the answers to:
- How long should a resume be?
- How many pages should a resume be depending on your level of experience?
- How to keep the length of your resume in control.
- How to balance resume length against achievements.
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Sample resume made with our builder—See more resume examples here.
Need more information on creating an effective resume? Check the guides below:
- How to Describe Yourself on a Resume
- Different Types of Resumes
- Essential Parts of a Resume
- Order of Jobs in Your Resume
- Best US Resume Format
Continue reading to learn how long should a resume be:
How Long Should a Resume Be?
Most of the time, a good resume is one to two pages long, depending on your level of experience. Three-page resumes are suitable for applicants with 25+ years of continuous work experience (such as executives) as well as for an academic CV or a medical resume.
For more details, refer to the table below. 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)|
Resume Length Facts
The best answer for how long can a resume be in modern hiring 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.
Why Does Resume Length Matter?
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 a Resume be One Page?
A one-page resume isn't always the best choice. 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?
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 of a dragonfly, you'll need a 2-page resume or longer. The rest of us can use a single-page resume template.
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.
When making a resume in our builder, drag & drop bullet points, skills, and auto-fill the boring stuff. Spell check? Check. Start building a professional resume template here for free.
Resume Length Perfected in 6 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 the length of your resume will self-regulate like it's got a job-search thermostat.
1. Keep it Brief and to the Point
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. Our HR statistics report shows managers skim resumes, often in less than 7 seconds. Be brief, and stick to achievements.
2. List Only Relevant Information
Have I said this before? It must be true. Don't put anything in your resume that doesn't make the 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.
3. Condense Resume Descriptions
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.
4. Adjust Font Size, Spacing, and Margins
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.
5. Replace Responsibilities with Achievements
Here's a good resume trick: 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.
6. Use Bullet Points in Your Resume
List 3–5 bullet points per job in your resume work experience section. 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.
Plus, a great cover letter that matches your resume will give you an advantage over other candidates. You can write it in our cover letter builder here. Here's what it may look like:
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 should a resume 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!
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