There have been so many debates about the perfect length of a resume. You've probably already Googled it and found so many articles answering this question and providing conflicting information which left you with even more questions and concerns.
What if you send a 1-page resume and skip something recruiters wanted to see?
Or if you send a 2-page resume and they immediately toss it the 'no' pile because they don't want to waste so much time on you?
So many questions, so few straightforward answers.
No wonder this choice makes your palms sweat. How do you make this potentially life-changing decision with all the contradictory information out there?
So, here we are going to share our views and help you make the decision that works best for you:
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What recruiters think?
The comforting advice coming from recruiters is: The size isn’t the most important. *shocking!*
What matters is the quality of the content. Your content should dictate the length, not the other way around.
So, don’t obsess over determining the perfect length of your resume before you have even put your name and surname on an empty page.
A predetermined number of pages will either make you add unnecessary content or cut out relevant information.
This decision should come last.
Focus on writing quality content tailored to the job description. Make sure that everything you have included there adds value to your application and fits the context of the role you’re applying for. When the content is top-notch, see how many pages you have and then determine the length that feels right.
And rest assured, if you have tailored content filled only with relevant information, there is no chance that your resume will be too short or too long for the employers’ standards.
However, there are some factors you should take into consideration.
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What factors determine the length?
The thing is, with resume length, one size doesn’t fit all. That’s why you cannot find one answer to this question.
It simply depends on many factors, such as years of experience, nature of the job or industry, career path, or the region in which you’re looking for a job.
Those are the same factors you should consider when deciding on how long your resume will be after you have written the content.
Years of experience: For entry-level applicants, job seekers with less than 5 years of experience or only two previous jobs, less is more. Aim for a one-page resume. If you are a mid-level professional with 5 -10 years of related experience, you might write a two-page resume. This allows you the space to include all relevant information and work history, while still making your resume readable.
Nature of the job or industry: Executives or senior-level managers often have a long list of accomplishments and experiences that they have to include. The same is true for people in the sciences, academia, project managers or freelancers who want to include their patents, publications or projects. These job seekers can write a resume that is two pages long or even longer.
Career path: If you are looking for a career change or have had curvy career path in the past, you don’t have to include all the information. Focus on relevant jobs and transferable skills. One page should suffice.
Region/country: A one-page resume was the gold standard in the US a decade ago. However, times have changed. In a digital world, there is more flexibility, so 2-page resumes are becoming more common and are perfectly acceptable as long as they tell a compelling story about your employment history. Also, two pages are the standard in all countries across Europe. However, Germany is an interesting exception here. Instead of sending 1 or 2-page resumes, they frequently send their ‘Lebenslauf’ (a literal translation would be - course of life). The rule that applies here is 'the more detail, the better' which makes their resume 10 or 15 pages long.
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When do different lengths of resumes work the best?
To summarize, here are some of the best practices for one, two or three-page resumes that can help you make the final decision.
One page works best for:
Candidates looking for a career change that don’t have much experience relevant to their new goal
Junior or mid-level professionals with less than 5 years of experience or with only two jobs in the past
Applications for entry-level roles
Students and graduates applying for internships
Two pages work best for:
Three pages work best for:
Research or scientific jobs where you need to include the list of your previous publications, certifications or professional courses
Senior-level professionals with a long track record of achievements
Project managers or freelancers with a long list of previous projects and gigs
Now you might be surprised. 3+ page resumes are acceptable?!
As you can see - yes, they are – in specific circumstances.
Most people believe resumes should fit on two pages max, regardless of years of experience. However, as with all rules, there are some exceptions.
For example, you’re have an extensive list of achievements, publications, professional courses, certifications or projects relevant to the job you are applying for, then you may need to extend your resume to three or more pages.
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The number of pages your resume will have is not the most pressing question you need to answer before submitting your next job application.
If you keep the length reasonable, no one will decide about your future solely based on the number of pages you've submitted. The decision will be based on what you've included there.
So, instead of dwelling on the length of your resume before you have even written the first word, focus on writing the best possible content. At the end, see how much content you have and then make a decision based on some best practices according to your years of experience, industry, career path and location.
Do you have any questions about your resume? Not sure which resume length works best for you? We’d love to help you out! Send us a message. Or if you prefer having a chat, book a FREE conversation with our career coach and get all your questions answered in 30 minutes.