How Long Should My Resume Be?

“Too many cooks spoil the broth.”

“The more, the merrier.”

“Less talk, less mistake.”

“Less is more.”

Sayings such as these tell us that to a great extent, the amount of things that need to be done does matter. Sometimes, things are better when it has more volume. At other times, less volume equals better quality. So when it comes to the number of pages of your resume, which is which?

While the number of pages of your resume isn’t your prospective employers’ or hiring managers’ primary consideration whether or not to hire you, it can still affect your job application’s success indirectly. This is because the number of pages in your resume will determine how much information – important ones that is – you’ll be able to provide your prospective employers or their hiring managers.

There aren’t any hard or fast resume rules when it comes to the number of pages your resume should have. However, there are certain guidelines that can help you decide whether to submit a 1, 2 or more page resume.  Here are some of them:

Keep in mind that your resume is an important tool for marketing yourself professionally. It should not in any way be considered your autobiography. One of the most important characteristics your resume should have is conciseness and focus, especially on the reasons why you should be hired.

For your resume to achieve conciseness and focus, you will need to let go of all information such as work experiences, skill sets, and interests that aren’t anywhere near related to the job you’re applying for. More than just making your resume cluttered and overloaded with information, including unnecessary information on your resume may risk killing your prospective employers’ or hiring managers’ interest in you.

Your prospective employers and their hiring managers normally go through tons of sent in resumes on a daily basis. And sometimes, such volumes are for only one position. Can you imagine if they’re looking to fill several of them? Now put yourself in their shoes.

Because of such volumes and very limited time to make decisions, prospective employers and hiring managers typically give each resume a mere cursory glance when making judgment calls as to whether or not a candidate for an applicant should be shortlisted or not for the position. Once you’re called for an interview, expect your resume to be read more thoroughly. But in order to get one foot in the door, you’ll need to ensure that whoever will be first evaluating your resume must be able to quickly see your most important and relevant traits in order for you to make the first cut of interviews.

ONE PAGE

If your total working experience is less than 3 years, consider using a one-page resume. Why? Anything more and you run the risk of putting unnecessary information that can even jeopardize your application.

In the corporate world, three years of working experience may be considered relative relatively short. Using a resume with 2 or more pages will force you to fill up those pages with as much information as you possibly can. You may be tempted to include useless, or real, or worse, contradictory information that can make your application stand out for the wrong reasons.

How Long Should My Resume Be - One Page Resume

Another situation where using a one-page resume can be beneficial for you is when you’re considering a career change. In particular, when you’re considering a change to a career in which you have no or have very little working experience in. By using a one-page resume, particularly a functional one, you’re able to highlight the transferable skills and experiences you gained from previous work experiences and prevent unnecessary discussion or focus on the road that aren’t.

Lastly, you may benefit from using a one-page resume if you’ve held multiple positions with one employer. Doing so highlights both your versatility and your loyalty to your employer, which can help you stand out from the other applicants for the same position.

TWO PAGES

You may need to use a two-page resume if you have more than five years of total working experience relevant to your targeted job or position. This will give you enough space to include relevant and important information about you which are relevant to the job or position you’re going for. A two-page resume can still be considered a focused and concise one for as long as the information you include in it is relevant and important to the open job or position.

How Long Should My Resume Be - Two Page Resume

If the job position you’re going for involves technical or engineering skills, you may also need all the space you can get from a two-page resume. In order to establish your technical or engineering proficiency, you may have to be as detailed as possible when it comes to enumerating your relevant work experiences and skill sets and a two-page resume can help you do that while still keeping concise and focused.

When using a two-page resume, always remember to put the most important and relevant information on the first page and on top of it. One of the best ways to do this is by beginning your resume with a career objective or summary in order for your most important credentials to be at the forefront of your application. Ideally, your resume’s second page must have a page number and must include your name and contact information as well, just in case the first page gets detached and lost.

THREE PAGES

So when should you use a resume with three or more pages? For starters, you must already be an executive or at least at senior manager level with an extensive record of accomplishments and leadership in various capacities. At this point in your career, focus and concise can take on a whole new meaning, particularly when it comes to your resume. You will definitely have so much more relevant credentials that you will need much more space to enumerate them and thus, more resume pages can be justified.

How Long Should My Resume Be - Three Page Resume

Another situation where a three page resume may be necessary is if you work in a scientific or academic field if you have an extensive list of published works, professional course offerings, speaking engagements, or patents and licenses to boast about. Again, being focused and concise at this level can expand to occupy more pages on your resume.

MORE THAN 3 PAGES?

Regardless of where you are in your career and how much you’ve accomplished, anything more than three pages may no longer be optimal when it comes to your resume.

How Long Should My Resume Be - More Than Three Pages Resume

Sure, it doesn’t guarantee that having more than three pages in your resume will result in your job application being rejected but it does significantly increase the chances of your resume and your job application being left out of the open position or job’s shortlist of candidates. It’s because prospective employers and hiring managers have too much on their plate these days and if they can’t see why you should be considered in at most three pages, they won’t.

WHAT REALLY COUNTS

The number of pages is important but not as important has the information you present in those pages. If based on what I’ve written above, you determine that the best resume for you is one that is only one page long, don’t kick yourself if you find that you will need two pages to include the necessary and relevant information that will help you increase the odds of successfully landing that job you’re applying for. Do your best to keep it to one – if your profile suggests you do so – but don’t restrain yourself from adding an extra one if you truly believe it is necessary.

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