There’s no doubt that you have probably received all kinds of conflicting information about resumes and how to market yourself in the job search. One of those “controversial” topics is about resume length. One page? Two pages? Three or more pages? While less may be more, that’s not a sure-fire formula for resume success. So what’s the real answer to how long should your resume be?
First (and Always), Create Value
Before we provide a definitive answer on the how long should your resume be question, we first must touch on some key things that your resume needs to do. The main goal of a resume is to get you an interview. It does that by sharing your value proposition. As with any marketing document, your resume is all about the WIIFM factor: “What’s in it for me?”
Even though your resume has your name at the top, it’s not really about you—or for you, for that matter. You’re writing for your target audience, namely employers. That means you need to grab their attention fast and then keep it long enough for them to call you for an interview. You do that by showcasing the value you can provide for them. Hopefully, it won’t take 3+ pages to do that.
Remember How Your Resume Is Reviewed
According to a study by TheLadders.com, employers spend about six seconds scanning your resume to see if it will make it to the yes pile. They look at these key areas to see if they want to know more:
- Your name and contact information. Can they pronounce your name? Are you local?
- Title or headline. Are you looking for the position for which they’re hiring?
- Summary. They want to learn a little about you, and this snapshot does the trick.
- Most recent position. Does your current (or most recent) role match the position for which they’re hiring?
- Education. What kind of degree do you have?
And, yes, they scan in this order. If you have what they want, your resume will move into the yes pile for further consideration.
So How Long Should Your Resume Be?
A resume should never exceed three pages, and your best bet is to get everything on 1–2 pages. If you can share your value in one page, go for it. Most candidates, however, need the two pages to highlight their value proposition, which includes their notable accomplishments and 10–15 years of experience, in addition to the components mentioned earlier.
Sometimes, a recent college graduate needs two pages. And there are occasions when an experienced executive can get everything on one page. As long as you’ve included the pertinent information and not fluffed with anything superfluous, you are probably on the right track.
Benefits of Hiring a Professional Resume Writer
It’s likely that you haven’t written a resume in the past decade, and maybe you’ve never undertaken the task. A lot has changed in resumes since the ‘90s, and those people who pull templates from the internet usually miss some of the things employers are looking for. In fact, in the same study noted above, recruiters scored professionally re-written resumes 6.2 (on a 1–7 scale) for readability, a 60% improvement from the original documents. They said the newer versions were easier to read. And that’s because resume writers do this work all the time. We know what recruiters want, and we can easily gather that information from candidates and showcase it in a way that gets noticed.
If you’re in the market for a new job and have no idea how long your resume should be, it’s time to reach out to a professional resume writer. The Grammar Doctors provides free resume reviews. Just email your document to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn if your resume is on the right track or needs a little TLC.