You’ve read different online recommendations, you’ve read through your friend’s one-page resume, and scanned your colleague’s three-page resume. Next, it’s time to write your resume. And, you start to wonder…how long should my resume be? Is there a ‘right’ length? How long is too long? Or, is it an absolute necessity to have a one-page document?
This is one of the most common questions that I receive from my clients. And, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all response. I’ve seen it all—I’ve received less than one paragraph from a client and I’ve received an eight-page document that outlines all jobs from 1975 through today. Neither of those works for today’s job market. So, here’s the advice I give to my clients and several guidelines that can be used as you put together your own resume.
Tip #1 – Be concise. Don’t think that a two-page document means that you are a better candidate or that outlining your job history for the last 30 years is the right way to accomplish this task. Instead, think about what is important to the potential employer and how you can get the point across in a clear and concise manner.
Tip #2 – Think one page per 10 years of experience. If you have worked for 20+ years, it’s crazy to think that you can highlight your skill-sets and work history within one page. Or, if you have a lot of community engagement that may be important to the job opportunity and need to point it out, then do it. A two-page document is fine for those that have a great deal of work history.
Tip #3 – Three pages and more is only okay if you are in education or medical professions. Sometimes people think that longer is better and makes them appear more important—it doesn’t. In the field of education (i.e. college professor) or medical professions (i.e. doctor), a CV is often required and can be three pages or beyond. These documents call for publications listings, internships, presentations, and even more. If you aren’t in one of these fields, then avoid anything longer than a two-page resume.
Tip #4 – Don’t include irrelevant information. Did you letter in a sport during high school? Was that 25 years ago? Or, were you the 4-H club president in 1985? Here’s a hint: no one cares. I know that sound harsh, but it’s the truth. If it’s not relevant—leave it off the resume.
Tip #5 – Don’t include long blocks of information. Whether your resume is one page or two pages, keep in mind that most people don’t like to read long paragraphs of information. Instead, include concise and targeted bullet points—they can even be phrases and not complete sentences. My recommendation is not to create a bullet point that is longer than two lines.
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