“How long should a resume be?” is one of the most common questions asked by job seekers.
And rightly so. No recruiter wants to wade through pages and pages of your resume.
And similarly, if your resume is too short then it looks like you haven’t really done much worth while, and will bring little to the new role.
So how many pages should it be?
Here at the Job Search Bible we’re lucky enough to work with 3 job search and career experts to provide their view on the optimal resume length.
The latest question put to our experts is:
“How long should a resume be?”
And here are their expert answers…
Over the years I’ve seen resumes and CVs from 2 to 8 pages long. On average they are usually between 3 to 4 pages. 8 pages is too long!
What you have to remember is this:
A resume / CV is designed to give enough information about you, your skills, experience and achievements to intrigue a recruiter to actually want to see you.
But a resume / CV shouldn’t appear to be like a novel. Therefore you can have too much information.
Do not just fill in the space to make your resume / CV appear long.
What you write in your resume / CV needs to be appropriate to the role you’re applying for. Make sure that you include what you’ve achieved rather than just describe what you’ve done.
When considering how long a resume should be, cut out any unnecessary, distracting information and avoid meaningless words that come across as just ‘buzzwords’.
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The ideal resume / CV should be two pages.
If you are a very senior person with lots of experience you might find it tricky to fit every job with your job responsibilities and key achievements on two pages.
Here, the challenge is to focus mainly on the most recent jobs and highlight particularly those parts which are relevant to the job you are applying for.
It is important to look at every line in your CV and ask yourself:
1) Does this help me to get an interview?
2) Do I sell myself effectively by providing this information?
3) Does it get me closer to getting the job or is it irrelevant?
Remember that if you apply for different types of jobs you should customise your CV every time accordingly.
When you write your profile, your job responsibilities and key achievements highlight particularly those points that are relevant for the position you are applying for.
However, if you apply for a job in the creative / media industry you might want to stand out a bit more and design a more creative CV, for example in form of an infographic. In that case it might just fit on one page.
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The rules governing length of your CV / resume vary according to where you live and what industry you work in.
In the USA, the rule of thumb for most resumes is – no longer than 2 pages (although I’ve met recruiters who will only look at one page).
If you work in academia then the academic CV is much more detailed and will include lists of publications, etc. and can run to several pages.
In the USA the brevity of the resume format means that it is acceptable to only go back 10 years on your resume.
Obviously, if you have important skills and experience to highlight that take you back more than 10 years that’s fine as long as you keep the entire resume to 2 pages.
A point to remember is that busy recruiters do not have time to read multiple pages and may discard a lengthy resume simply because it is too long for them to read.
In fact, a study by The Ladders concluded that recruiters spend only 6 seconds reviewing a resume, so you need to keep them interested!
How long should a resume be? Summary
So all three of our experts agree that a resume should be 2 pages long ideally, and only rarely shorter or longer than this in specific circumstances.
So keep it short, succinct, whilst relevant and value add.