How Long Should Your Resume Be in 2021 (Expert Advice)
Your resume needs to market you effectively, which is a lot to ask from a couple of pieces of paper. It needs to include enough about you to prove you are qualified for the job you’re applying for without overwhelming the reader. How long your resume should be is related to how far back your resume should go.
Your resume length is the number of pages your resume takes up. Your resume length can vary based on factors like your experience, your field, and the job you’re applying for. So, how long should YOUR resume be?
This article will walk you through several examples, exceptions, and the keys to success our team of professional resume writers use to get a resume to the correct number of pages. Here are the topics this post covers:
“The one-page resume standard is no longer applicable in today’s job market,” says Jennifer Johnson, a professional resume writer and veteran recruiter. She spent more than 10 years hiring and developing talent for Fortune 500 companies.
“The strategic goal should focus on keyword optimization, meaning the resume should have a strong mix of skills and terms that support their qualifications. For many job seekers, limiting themselves to one page can mean omitting important keywords, causing their resume to fail ATS scans and therefore lose out on important job opportunities.”
Confused? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! By the end of this article, you will have a clear understanding of how long your resume should be and exactly what those pages should include.
When should your resume be one page?
Why your resume should be one page
Your resume can safely stick to one page if that is all you need to market yourself. One page resumes can be scanned over quickly by the human eye, so a one-page resume could appeal to in-person scenarios like job fairs and networking events.
If you have a two-page resume with no work experience, it probably contains filler words and information that isn’t relevant to your current job application. Cut your resume down to one page by tailoring your resume to your relevant experience.
If you’re making a career change, your past experience is unlikely to be fully relevant to the new job target. Try to lead with your transferable skills and abilities if you’re in this position, rather than experience. A functional resume format may be better for you.
The same goes for recent grads. Odds are that you don’t have two pages of relevant experience. However, some graduates have multiple internships, volunteer work, on-campus activities, or publications that belong on a resume. If you just graduated, read more about how to search for a job as a recent graduate.
But is the one-page resume dead?
Not exactly. While entry-level candidates should no longer feel pressured to cut their resumes down to one page, they should not try to stretch their resume to a two-page resume if it doesn’t make sense.
For example, if you recently graduated from college and did not participate in many of the resume boosters mentioned above (e.g. internships, co-ops, volunteer work, extracurricular activities), then you likely won’t have enough material to warrant a second page. The last thing you want to do is add irrelevant details, include outdated information, or get creative with your format in order to extend your resume to a second page. That’s a waste of your time and will not impress employers. You’re better off sticking with a one-page resume.
So, if you’re a recent college graduate, remove any references to your high school awards, scholarships, and extracurricular activities. Employers are more interested in the internships you completed, odd jobs you held, relevant experiences you had, and activities you participated in on campus while pursuing your degree.
In addition, if you’re further along in your career and have decided to make a major career change, your resume may be reduced to only one page that highlights your transferable skills and parts of your experience that are relevant to this new job goal.
Exceptions to the resume-length rules
While I strongly encourage you to limit yourself to a two-page resume, there will be instances where this is near impossible. This often happens to professionals who have never-ending lists of technical skills and proficiencies, a large number of consulting gigs to explain, or a series of published works to include. If you fall into one of these categories, you may need to use the first part of a third page. However, try to avoid this if possible since there is still a limit to how many pages a resume should be.
While an international CV — the type of document used to apply for positions in most countries outside of the U.S. — should also be 1–2 pages long, the size of the paper is different. International CVs should be 1–2 pages of A4 (8.27” x 11.69”) paper, while resumes should be 1–2 pages of standard letter (8.5” x 11”) paper.