How long should a resume be?
This topic has been a matter of intense debate lately. Many believe that it's not the length of resume but the depth that matters.
But that doesn't help, does it? We can't help but return to the previous question. How many pages should a resume be?
On the contrary, many people believe that more the number of pages in a resume, better the chances of getting shortlisted.
Is that true?
We won't be lying if we say that the most happening question across the resume industry is "How long should a resume be?"
Some say 1 page, others say 2 or 3, or even more. Some people even go to the extent of saying that a resume length has no limit when it comes to the number of pages in a resume.
Remember, we're in a fast-paced world where your typical recruiter has to peruse through hundreds of resumes on a daily basis. You are fooling yourself if you think that a recruiter will scan your 10-pager resume with the same gusto as a 1-pager resume.
We've seen countless people struggle with their length of resume. College students have difficulties in extending their resume to a full 1 pager; 20+ years experienced project managers can't trim their 10+ pages of resume length down to 2 for saving their lives.
So is there a consensus on how long should a resume be?
The experts at Hiration are up-to-date with the latest hiring trends across various industries. We understand the trouble people go through when it comes to the right length of resume.
Accordingly, our designers burnt the midnight oil to provide you with stellar 25+ resume designs and 150+ pre-filled content templates. These resume designs are tailored to industry trends.
Moreover, with a state-of-the-art unprecendented spacing feature in our online resume builder - which allows you to uniformly increase or decrease section spacing across the entire document - say farewell to all your 2020 resume length troubles!
'How long should my resume be?' - If you are still looking for an answer to this question, you're in the right place. This 2020 Resume Length Guide will broadly cover the following topics:
Ideally, the 2020 resume length depends on your work experience.
For freshers and people with less than ~10 years of experience, it's better to go for a 1 pager resume. In case of diverse experience, you can extend it to 2 pages, but definitely not more than that.
With experience over 10 years, your resume should ideally fit 2 pages, but definitely not more than that.
The resume needs to be crisp and expressive at the same time to make an impression on the recruiter. However, do not leave any amount of white space in your resume.
We know that adding content while keeping it simple could be difficult.
Why Is There an Ideal Resume Length?
How far back should your resume go? If you have 20-30 (or more) years of professional experience, you want to have it all, don't you?
What your resume should look like in 2020 depends on, well, whether or not you want a job. How far back to go on resume will depend on the number of years of relevant experience, and your target profile.
Chris, one of our users, asked us 'How far back should my resume go?' He had 15 years of professional experience in total, with 7+ years of relevant experience. He had listed all his profiles, and his resume was exceeding 10 pages when he first came to us.
People like Chris have trouble understanding the concept of an ideal resume length. They forget that a resume is a career marketing tool, not an autobiography. They are under the impression that a 10+ page resume length will impress the recruiter.
They couldn't be farther from the truth.
All your Resume 2020 troubles can be resolved if you just place yourself in the recruiter's shoes. If there are a hundred people like you who are applying for the same job (a very conservative estimate), and if everyone is armed with a resume length of 10+ pages, what do you think will happen to the recruiter?
He'll jump off a cliff. Again, a very conservative estimate.
With an insane rise in the number of applicants across all categories of jobs, a 10-pager (or a 4-5 pager resume for that matter) does not make sense. If you have to spend all your energy in bringing down your achievements from 10 pages to 5, and if you are still not able to express your role or contribution...well then something is wrong somewhere, isn't it?
The key is, how to make a crisp resume while ensuring that everything worthwhile is retained? Continue with our 2020 Resume Length Guide to find out how.
How Many Pages Should A Resume Be?
Let's return to our original question. How how long should a resume be?
Times are a-changing. We have moved from newspapers to Twitter. Character limits are important in order to prevent an implosion of information.
Here are the key points:
|<= 10 years||1 page|
|> 10 years||2 pages|
So what if you have hundreds of accomplishments that can't be boiled down? What if you're an IT Project Manager with dozens of projects across your career till date? In this case, how long is a resume?
Hiration Protip: You can create an Annexure section in case you exceed 2 pages. Annexure can contain all your projects and miscellaneous achievements that can't be grouped under any other section. An Annexure section can stretch to 3-4 pages as well (in addition to a 2-pager resume), and you have the option of sending the annexure separately in case the recruiter asks for the same.
A lot depends on the country you're targeting as well. In the US for instance, corporates meticulously follow the above mentioned guideline for length of resume. But in the Mideast for instance, or for industries like shipping and logistics, a resume can go beyond 2 pages as well.
Make sure you go through the resume length guidelines for the country and industry of your preference before you decide how long should your resume be.
Why is Length of Resume Important?
"How many pages should a resume be?"
Why is this question around length of resume so critical?
Make sure your resume is concise by focusing only on your quantifiable achievements. You can refrain from including previous profiles if they are not in alignment with your target profile.
Here's why resume length matters:
If you are a sales manager,
- who has worked with key stakeholders,
- executed several projects, and
- registered impressive bottom lines,
you should be able to say all this in a single page.
If you can't express it in a single page, you can't do it in 3+ pages either.
More "wow," less words.
Every word in your resume should market your credentials and showcase the value you can deliver to the potential employer.
However, at the same time, it's better to leave some scope for the interview.
It's common in most organizations and companies to scan hundreds (if not thousands) of applications for processing one vacancy.
Since your resume is going to be just one application in the ocean of resumes, know that the recruiter won't scan your resume for more than six seconds. That alone is enough for the recruiter to gage whether you belong in the 'reject' pile, 'maybe' or 'oh yes'.
If you are shortlisted for an interview, your resume is anyway going to get a more thorough check. Hence, it's important to factor in that scenario as well and ensure that your most impactful points are visible to the reader.
So, now for the main question.
How Long Should A Resume Be?
Does it make sense to trim your resume to 2 pages but also cram those 2 pages to such an extent that a recruiter can't make head or tail of it?
Your resume should be crisp while still communicating your worth to the recruiter. For most of the applicants out there, it translates to a one-pager resume. This principle is valid for all the professionals with less than 10 years of experience.
A resume should be 1 page in most conventional cases, can extend to 2 pages in some cases (where the total professional experience is 10+ years, where there are lots of projects, etc.), but rarely should it reach the third page. If it can be proved that you are suitable enough for the job in one page alone, do that.
But if your list of achievements is extensive, go for 2 (or 3) pages, but make sure those additional pages are adding all the value that they can.
If a recruiter is going through 3 pages of your contributions, and s/he gets the feeling that the resume could've been wrapped up in 2 pages (or worse, 1), you're done.
You know that a resume can be one page or two. But what about a 3 pager resume - is it too long? What happens if it's a 4-pager resume?
The key lies in tailoring your resume to the preferred profile of your choice. Customizing your contribution and achievements as per the requirements of the recruiter is how you prove you are fit for the job. If you are able to pull it off in one page, by all means go ahead. But if you think that a single pager resume is not justifying your achievements, and that there's scope for more, utilize the second page.
Just remember that whatever resume length you go for, your resume reaches the entirety of the page.
Hiration Protip: A resume is either 1 pages or 2. Not 1.5 or 1.75. If you are reaching the second page, make sure you reach the entirety of the second page.
How Far Back Should A Resume Go?
If there's a vacancy that requires a lot of experience, a resume can go further back in such cases. If the job description itself clearly states that an experience of 3-5 years is required, don't go overboard and dump your 20 years of professional trajectory.
Based on our internal findings and external research, we came to the conclusion that professionals who are overqualified will have a harder time getting recruited. In either case, make sure you are only including relevant experience.
How Long Should A Resume Be - Freshers & Entry-level Professionals
If you are a college student, how long should a resume be? Unless you created a nuclear reactor in your basement or decoded the human genome, use a one pager resume.
In case you you have an extensive list of extra-curricular achievements and projects that you completed in your career till date, and if those achievements can broadly be interpreted along the lines of your target profile, you can go ahead and utilize the second page of your resume.
If and when you do, the only thing to keep in mind is that the recruiter shouldn't feel that reading the second page was a waste of their time. The additional page should add concrete value.
Is the thought of preparing your entire resume from scratch overwhelming you to the bones? Fret no more! Our online resume builder comes with pre-filled content resume templates to help you get started with your resume in no time!
Need a resume not exceeding one page that's also tailored to your preferred job profile?
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How Far Back Should A Resume Go For Freshers
A one pager resume is the industry norm for most fresh graduates and entry-level professionals, but it might not be the case across all the instances.
Irrespective of geographic presence or industry/domain of interest, most college students are advised to make their resume of one page by their career placement centers. According to noted resume writer Sharon Pierce Williams, who specializes in servicing college students, many career offices across the globe dictate that a fresher resume need not exceed one page.
According to her, college students fall in a group which should always strive to maintain a one-pager resume. The reason for that is because of lack of relevant work experience, it becomes difficult to justify a resume exceeding two pages.
However, if you are a fresh college graduate who is armed with an extensive list of relevant internships, summer/part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, etc., you can opt for a 2 pager resume as well.
The idea remains that if you are utilizing the second page in your resume, it should contain substantial information that should convince the recruiter that the second page was necessary.
To conclude, if you are an entry-level professional, a 2-pager resume is justified only if you have enough experience and extracurricular achievements to justify the same. Don't go for ample sectional spacing and needlessly extend your fresher resume to 2 pages if 1 page can hold the same volume of information.
A 2-pager resume for a college fresher indicates that the applicant is a go-getter who has accomplished a lot in a short span of time. Which means that you shouldn't let the second page go a waste.
Another approach to tackling a fresher resume is to go for a conventional one-pager resume detailing your education and key modules, while going for another section along the lines of 'Project Management' or 'Non Profit Leadership' in the second page.
This second page can include all the projects which were completed during college, and which delivered an impact in the community.
If you are an entry level professional, or if you just graduated, and you wish to go for a 2-pager resume, make sure you have enough relevant information to substantiate a second page.
How Far Back Should A Resume Go for Mid/Senior-level Professionals?
For a vast majority of applicants and job seekers out there, a two-pager resume is the ideal way to go.
According to Darlene Nason - coach, speaker and trainer - it becomes extremely difficult for a professional who has an experience of 10+ years to limit their resume to a one pager.
A two-pager resume is good enough. How far back should a resume go depends on your target profile. If you've been in the same role since the beginning and are targeting something similar, you can skip your most initial profiles.
Let's say you were in development for 5 years and switched to project management for 3 years. In case you wish to return to development, you can gloss over your PM experience - or better still, emphasize upon the development aspect during your PM tenure - and focus more on your development-based achievements.
Many people fear interviews, but you don't get a chance to appear for one if your resume is not up to the mark. If your resume is not showcasing significant qualifications, or is not able to convince the recruiter, you don't get a shot at the interview, period.
Let's consider the scenario where your resume is extending to two pages. For the HR, this barely translates to a few more seconds, maybe 30 additional seconds on your resume if you are extremely lucky. But think from the perspective of the HR. It's beneficial for them to spend those additional 30 seconds than call a candidate with questionable credentials for a personal interaction session.
Add Enclosure for Additional Information
You also have the option of adding an Annexure section to your resume without impacting the overall length of your resume.
This trend has been on the upswing for quite a while now. Most mid/senior-level executives, project managers, developers, etc. opt for a crisp 1/2 pager resume and reserve a separate Annexure section for all their projects and additional information. This Annexure section can go along with your 1/2-pager resume, or it can be sent separately at the request of the recruiter.
The Annexure section can be an innovative way to showcase your additional projects, presentations, publications, awards, etc.
Hiration Protip: It helps if you create a Master Annexure section for your own use and customize the same depending on the profile you are targeting. This might mean that you are sending off only your resume in some cases, or only picking out key points from the Master Annexure section as per your target profile.
Is there a consensus on how long should a resume be?
Many people feel that a one pager resume is too short. At the same time, there seems to be no universal consensus when it comes to how long should a resume be.
- Conventional opinion dictates that two pages is the ideal length of resume.
- Many people are willing to extend the maximum resume length to 3 pages
- If your resume is more than 2 pages, your ability to prioritize is put under the scanner
The basic idea remains the same. If your resume is extending to two pages, each and every point should justify the usage of the second page.
Another trend which impacted the question of resume length is the transition from scanning print outs of resumes to browsing through them on a screen. Because of this, opinions of many recruiters seems to not stay constant when it comes to how long should a resume be.
Resumes that would have been flagged in the era of print are now deemed to be acceptable in the digital age.
Providing necessary details > Page Length
When people ask 'How many pages should a resume be?', our next response is to elicit a comprehensive resume from their end.
Recruiters would actually prefer a 3 pager resume if it showcases all the qualifications and experiences required for the preferred profile, instead of a 2 pager resume that was trimmed down but lacks the necessary impact.
As long as the points in your resume are accurate, verifiable and pertinent, resume length as a factor takes a backseat. Let's say you have an experience of 20+ years and your entire professional trajectory comprises points which are squarely targeting the preferred profile of your choice. In that case, by all means, go ahead and list out all the relevant points, even if the resume ends up exceeding 2 pages.
To conclude, how long should a resume be? Conventional industry standards dictate that the ideal resume length should not exceed 3 pages - the maximum limit is 3 pages. Let's say you are a Project Manager with dozens of projects that you don't want to exclude from your resume, trim down your resume to 2 pages and create a separate Annexure section containing all your projects.
Capture attention in the first page
Irrespective of the length of resume, it is important to have absolute conviction that the interest of the recruiter is captured in the first few sections. Given that recruiters will only scan your resume for 6 seconds in the first round of screening, you don't have any other option.
The length of resume and resume formatting are two key factors for consideration when it comes to grabbing the recruiter's attention. Like we previously stated, it does not make sense to limit your resume to 2 pages if those 2 pages have been crammed with information.
As per the findings of the 2011 Global Career Brainstorming Day, another factor in addition to length of resume which is of equal (if not more) importance is
- concise resume points
- crisp paragraphs
- targeted list of bullet pointers
- resume format which makes skimming through the resume a breeze
It's of critical importance that you deploy trend-based resume templates and resume format methodologies for emphasizing more upon the relevant points/sections. The first half of your resume's first page is of utmost significance. If you are able to deliver the maximum impact in the first few sections, you have already captured the recruiter's attention and overshadowed a majority of your competition out there.
Leave no white spaces
A very common practice that we see across a majority of resumes out there is that in cases where the resume extends to the second or third page by a few lines, people leave it at that.
A resume is either a 1 pager or 2 - not 1.25 or 1.75. If your resume is breaching that limit by a few lines, the rest of the page is just white space - something which is not favorably looked upon by recruiters.
Always make sure that if that's the case, you trim down a few points to make sure that your resume reaches the entirety of the page and leaves no white space whatsoever.
The reverse of that is true as well. You are not supposed to add irrelevant and superfluous text just because you think that will make the resume reach the end of the page. Never add information just for the sake of it.
Irrelevant content can heavily dilute the overall effectiveness of your resume. It's just a 1 or 2 pager document, about yourself - the impact shouldn't decrease in the mind of the recruiters as they continue reading. Instead, each section should add concrete value and should convince the recruiter that all the content in your resume is there for a reason.
Do not sacrifice readability
In the quest to reduce their resume to 2 pages, many people resort to decreasing the overall font size of their resume - the lowest hanging fruit - instead of working on the content.
The recruiters shouldn't have to take out their magnifying glass to read your 8-font-size resume. Many job seekers go to absurd lengths for trimming down their resumes to a certain length, which ideally shouldn't be the case.
Always prioritize readability over resume length. This means going for a font size not smaller than 10, adequate margins in the range of 0.5" to 1", minimal white spacing and a recruiter-friendly resume format.
Thinking from the perspective of the recruiter, it's less demanding to read a two-pager resume with ample spacing, adequate margins, and a pleasing resume template, instead of a one-pager resume where all the information has been crammed into tight sections.
You can include all the relevant information in your resume, with concrete cause-effect relationship in all the points, but if the same information has been squished into a single page, it's going to be pointless.
When it comes to a resume, while content is still king, design is what makes the recruiter go through the content. A stimulating design will help the recruiter scan your content, but if the font size is 8 or if the sections are tightly put together, it won't matter if your resume is one page or two pages.
Recruiters and companies all over the world are departing from their previous stance wherein they insisted on a one-pager resume. They are willing to compromise on their length of resume and are really happy with a two pager resume which is concise, recruiter-friendly, properly formatted and is easy to read.
To no longer struggle with the readability aspect of your resume, head on over to Hiration's resume builder. With state-of-the-art features that take care of uniform section spacing and modern resume templates, this is what you've been looking for!
What if Length of Resume is More than 2 Pages?
In case your resume is exceeding two pages, including elements like footers, headers and page numbers can facilitate continuity in your resume.
We know a lot of applicants who opt for the "page 2 of 3" approach. Since your resume is anyway exceeding 2+ pages, you might as well number all the pages in your resume to make the recruiter's job easier.
According to Ann Baehr of Best Resumes, you must include your name and the relevant page number on the top if you decide to go for a resume exceeding 2 pages. It's important to organize all the information under different categories to make it more recruiter-friendly. Including your name on each page might help your case in cases the individual pages in your resume get separated.
But there's a difference between doing this to make the recruiter's job easier and pasting a letterhead in each page which takes up half a page's worth of space. It is suggested to have a novel approach of using a customized footer in each page to convince the recruiter to continue reading. A customized footer can be along the lines of "more indicators of performance in the next page."
It's alright if a particular resume section (let's say your Professional Experience section) is spread across two different pages, but try to not do the same for a single point or a description.
Follow the reverse chronological resume format to complete the description for a job in one page and then continuing with the next profile in the following page.
What Your Resume Should Look Like in 2020?
It won't matter if your resume is 1 page long, or 2 pages, or even 3, as long as you are following this list of rules pertaining to resume length below.
How can we say this we so much confidence?
Because if you consider these rules to be the North Star of your resume writing process, the resume length in particular will automatically take care of itself.
Don't trust us? Read on and find out how:
- Keep the recruiter in mind: We like to misappropriate a JFK quote along the lines of 'ask not what the company can do for you, but what you can do for the company'. It doesn't matter if your resume is 6 pages long, or 3, or 2. Go through all the points and ask yourself "Will it help the recruiter make a decision about me if s/he reads it?"
- Bullets over paragraphs: Avoid long paragraphs in your resume. If you set yourself a target of ensuring that no point in your resume exceeds one line, you'll automatically go about removing fluff and irrelevant information from your resume.
- Quantifiable Impact: Performance figures, even if you think they are not significant enough to be showcased, will go a long way in overshadowing your competition.
- Relevant to the Target Profile: If there's one particular vacancy in mind that you absolutely have to target, remove everything else in your resume that isn't remotely related to the preferred profile.
- Showcase achievements that prove that you are a perfect fit for the profile of your choice. There can be infinite ways of rephrasing your key contributions and achievements. Choose a way which aligns the same with your target profile.
- Concise is where it's at: There's no sense in repeating an achievement all over your resume. Once is enough. Rather than saying that you trained 5 employees in Java, 4 employees in Python, 7 employees in R and 3 employees in Tableau, say that you trained 20+ people across Java, Python, R & Tableau. That takes up lesser space and delivers a much greater impact.
- Formatting is the key: Basic elements like font, font size, margins, spacing, etc. play a huge role in getting you a shortlist. Don't cram your resume with so much information that it ends up looking like a black wall of text. It's alright if your resume goes from 1 pager to 2, but the wall of text will get you nowhere.
- Responsibilities over achievements: We wish we had a penny for every resume that we come across consisting of 'Key Responsibilities' or something along those lines. A Sales Manager will more or less have the same set of responsibilities. It's your list of achievements that will make you unique. Responsibilities can be gleaned from a JD, but a resume is achievements-based. Remember that.
- Annexure: You can include an Annexure section consisting of your professional projects and additional achievements.
Hiration Protip: Make sure your resumes are achievements-based over responsibility-based. Many people blindly refer to the JD they're targeting for 'optimizing' their resume, but a JD, by its very nature, is aligned towards key responsibilities, while a resume is meant to showcase your achievements.
For every professional experience, how many points should ideally be there? There's no universal answer for that. The work ex section for someone who has worked in a company for 10 years will differ from the section of someone who was in 5 different companies across the same time period.
Our trademark technique while dealing with such cases helps a lot. As a rule of thumb, whenever the total number of points exceed 4-5, club similar points together and assign a bucket/subheading for the same. This allows the recruiter to only scan the subheading without perusing through the individual points.
Resume Tips 2020
Go for a one-pager resume if the total professional experience is less than 10 years. If it's 10+ years, a 2-pager resume should work.
How far back should a resume go? With the exception of senior-level profiles, you can go back 10 years. Instead of asking how far back to go on resume, focus on customizing each point to the target profile.
Customizing your resume as per the requirements of the job description is the key.
A resume is a marketing tool and not a Best Hits album to assuage your ego. Till and when you are shortlisted, your resume is the only selling point you have. Remove everything in your resume which is not doing the job of selling yourself to the recruiter.
Content is still the king – all the resume points should align with your target profile. Once you’ve registered a few years of professional experience, remove your part-time stints from your resume. Keep them if you think they are relevant, but only if you think it'll contribute to the recruiter's overall decision. You can retain leadership roles, positions of responsibilities, memberships, education, certifications/publications, etc.
Remove all personal information which can invite recruiter's bias. This includes details like age, marital status, political/religious affiliations, etc.
Resume format: A well formatted resume can catapult your chances of getting a shortlist. A recruiter-friendly resume format will allow all your achievements and contributions to be properly showcased. In this day and age, your resume will most probably be first scanned on a screen. If the overall layout is easy to read, the hiring manager won't mind scrolling through a few more pages. But a two-pager resume with all information tightly spaced together will help no one.
|Make a one-page resume when:|
|Your professional experience is of less than 10 years|
|You're undergoing a significant career shift|
|Your previous experience is not in alignment with your preferred profile|
|You had multiple positions in a single organization|
|Make a two-page resume when:|
|Your work experience is of more than 10+ years|
|Your chosen area of interest requires technical skills|
|You need more space to substantiate your technical proficiency|
|Consider a resume length of 2+ pages when:|
|You have a long track record of strong leadership roles|
|You have lots of technical/academic projects that are highly relevant to the target profile|
|You are from an academic or scientific domain with publications, patents, etc.|
|You have done professional courses, speaking engagements, publications, patents or licenses|
|You can use multiple-page resumes as an Annexure after the second page|
Got more questions around length of resume? Still can't figure out how far back should your resume go? Drop in a comment below and our resume experts will be right back!