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How Long Should a Résumé Be?

How Long Should a Résumé Be?

Many professionals grapple with determining how long their résumés should be. It’s a careful balancing act—too little information, and recruiters may not be convinced of your value; too much, and recruiters may lose interest in your application before they can properly assess your qualifications.

To further complicate things, when it comes to how long your résumé should be, one size does not fit all professionals. What works for someone who recently graduated from college will not necessarily be adequate for a seasoned professional. The following résumé length tips will help you decide the ideal number of pages for your application and show you how to curate your résumé content to meet these guidelines.

Entry-level employees: Keep it to a page

Most professional résumés written for the U.S. job market (international CVs, academic CVs, and federal résumés are written with a different set of rules in mind) are between one and two pages long. If you’re new to the workforce or you recently made a major career change, employers expect to see a one-page document. This is because, more often than not, professionals in either of these situations don’t have a long and relevant work history to showcase on a résumé. One page is all you need to pitch your value, summarize your skills, and provide proof of these abilities within the “Work Experience” and “Education” components of your résumé.

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Mid-level professionals: Two pages is OK, but stay relevant

While no set rule determines when a résumé should graduate to a two-page document, it typically occurs once a professional possesses seven or more years of experience. Again, this will vary depending on how many jobs were held within the timeframe, how relevant each position is to the professional’s current job goals, and what the professional was able to accomplish during that time. The more (relevant) achievements you have to brag about, the more résumé real estate you can dedicate to that position.

Established professionals: Keep it to two pages

If you are a senior professional with an extensive work history, it can be difficult to cull your résumé down to two neat pages that succinctly sum up your value and showcase your qualifications. However, it can be done! Start by limiting your work experience to the past fifteen years. Any work history that falls outside this window can be summarized with a “Career Note” or a short “Earlier Career History” section toward the end of your résumé that lists your employers’ names and the job titles you held. Click on the following link to view samples of each résumé-length technique. Truncating your work experience in this fashion will go a long way to getting your résumé to meet the two-page limit.

No matter what, tailor your résumé to your goals

Your résumé is an important part of your personal marketing campaign during the job search. Rather than include every detail about every position you’ve ever held, carefully curate the content of your résumé based on your job goals. Reevaluate each job in your “Professional Experience” section to determine which responsibilities, contributions, and accomplishments showcase your qualifications for your desired position. This will help you eliminate unnecessary details that both detract from your value and push your résumé beyond its appropriate length.

If you know how long your résumé should be but are still having trouble condensing it to the appropriate length, try playing with the size of the margins and fonts. You can decrease the margins around your document to as little as 0.5 or 0.7 inches without compromising the overall design of your résumé. Depending on the font type you’ve selected, you may be able to decrease its size by 0.5 or 1.0 point. Be careful, though—if your font size becomes too small, you risk turning your résumé into an eye chart for the viewer.

Use these résumé length tips to edit your résumé, and you’ll soon be on your way to accepting a new job offer!

Amanda Augustine is a career advice expert for TopResume, the largest résumé-writing service in the world. TopResume offers a range of résumé-writing services including expertly-written and keyword-optimized résumé, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles. It is currently offering a free résumé review to help you condense your résumé to the right page length and land your dream job.

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