How long should my resume be?
Trying to compress a lengthy resume into a single page is, at this point, a professional rite of passage. We’ve all done it – combined bullet points, removed perfectly valid work experience, and skipped over contextual elements that would otherwise complement our background.
But is this minimization of our professional history really necessary? In this day and age when printed resumes are all but dead, does the single page resume still hold power?
The short answer is no, it isn’t necessary to cram a lifetime of professional achievements onto an 8×11” piece of paper. That is, unless your professional history has been relatively short. Keep reading for the optimal resume length given your career and aspirations:
What recruiters like to see, according to science.
We’re not the first people to ask this question – in fact, the question has been hotly debated since the invention of the resume, and especially contentious since Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS: the digital system that breaks down and logs your resume information) became mainstream.
ResumeGo, a professional resume building service, conducted a study tracking whether recruiters were more likely to respond positively to one or two page resumes, regardless of years worked. The two page resumes won by a landslide; recruiters were 2.3x more likely to recommend a resume two pages in length.
These findings are backed by Accountemps, who polled managers on the ideal resume length for staff-level hires. The results were evenly split at 47% for two pages, 46% for one page. Clearly, the one page resume has lost its absolute dominance.
When should your resume be one page?
You have newly graduated or you have fewer than three years of work experience. It’s that simple.
When should your resume be two pages?
In most other scenarios. If you are struggling to make your work history fit on to a single page – take a step back and consider whether your work may be better represented on two pages.
In many industries – especially specialized iTechnology fields – one page just won’t suffice. You’ll not only need to quantify your previous roles and successes, but you’ll need to specify which coding languages you know, which softwares you’ve worked with, and which projects you’ve helped lead.
In these specialized fields, a one page resume is doing yourself a disservice. Hiring managers will look at it and will assume one of two things
- You don’t have a passion/interest
- You haven’t put enough time and effort into your resume
Don’t add length for the sake of it.
That being said, a resume should still be as clear and concise as possible. As the saying goes, “perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
What’s the right resume length for you?
When all is said and done, your resume should be as short as it can be while maintaining the level of quality and integrity that you have invested in your career thus far. Whether that means one page, or two pages, or even – on occasion – three pages, is up to you. Don’t remove important information for the sake of brevity; don’t add unnecessary points in an effort to pad your work history.
It’s a fine balance and it can be difficult to achieve if you’re not an experienced resume writer. Come join us the last Tuesday of every month for a Resume Writing and Career Development Workshop with our CEO Louis Song. Or if you want to put your resume to the test, apply for a job now.