A Google search returns a huge number of articles about how long a resume should be.
Some say that resumes should never be longer than a single page, no matter how many decades of experience you have. But according to most sources, this length expectation is no longer relevant for modern jobseekers.
Enhancv suggests that the one-page resume rule comes from a time period when printing costs were more expensive, and dealing with multiple pages of paper was difficult for both applicants and companies.
But the question remains: do you still need to keep your resume a certain length?
The answer isn’t black and white. Here, we’ll discuss what you must consider regarding resume length.
Recruiters typically prefer two-page resumes to one-pagers.
ResumeGo recently conducted a survey of nearly 500 recruiters, human resources professionals, and executives about the length of resumes they preferred. These professionals were put through hiring simulations to screen for a variety of positions and considered a total of nearly 8,000 resumes.
Ultimately, recruiters were 2.3 times more likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes.
Surprisingly, they also spent considerably longer reviewing these longer resumes than the shorter ones.
“Despite preconceived notions that recruiters are unwilling to spend more than a few seconds reviewing each resume, our study found that participants were spending 2 minutes 24 seconds on one-page resumes and 4 minutes 5 seconds on two-page resumes,” the study revealed.
Why did hiring managers prefer these long documents?
“These results indicate that the extra information contained on two-page resumes helped participants in their decision-making and cast a positive light on the job candidates – even when it came to entry-level job openings, though to a lesser degree,” ResumeGo said.
You probably don’t want more than two pages for your resume…
This research indicates that hiring managers appreciated these two-page resumes because they could better understand the candidate and their fit for the role.
As TopResume notes, recruiters are looking for career narratives rather than basic timelines of your trajectory from job to job.
“They want to be able to read your resume like a story. In order to create that story, your resume requires additional components such as a professional summary, a section to list your relevant experience, skills, etc. — all of which take up more space,” the organization said.
That’s why you should consider writing at least two pages of experience if you’re a mid-career professional or beyond.
Should you write beyond two pages, though? Probably not.
Though the ResumeGo study suggested that recruiters did spend more time reading longer resumes, other studies note that most hiring professionals only spend 10 seconds reviewing resumes. So, if you have pages and pages about yourself, they may not even read beyond the second page.
The bottom line is that you’re not trying to summarize every success you’ve had in your career. Rather, you want to mention the highlights that exemplify how well-suited you’d be for the role you’re applying for.
“A resume should not be an obituary of one’s career. To keep it concise, write with the employer’s needs and wants in mind,” said resume writer Norine Dagliano.
…unless you meet the following characteristics for the two+ page resume.
Like almost everything, the two-page max resume rule is also meant to be broken – but only sometimes.
You might decide to use a three-page+ resume if you’re a senior-level executive or an academic or scientist with impressive credits. Some federal jobs may also ask you to include more information on your resume than typical civilian positions, and some technical or project management resumes may require you to “provide case studies, project highlights, or lists of technical skills.”
You should decide on your resume length based on your years of experience and field.
There are certain conditions under which you should consider writing a one-page resume.
These include the following:
- You work in a field where recruiters are likely to receive many resumes and probably won’t read beyond one page.
- You have fewer than ten years of professional experience.
- You want to change fields, or much of your experience isn’t relevant to the field to which you’re applying.
Consider a two-page resume if you:
- Are applying for a mid-level job or beyond and/or have worked for more than ten years.
- Have significant accomplishments in your previous roles that you want to discuss.
- Need more space to discuss a varied and multi-faceted career trajectory that led you to apply for the role at hand.
You may want to use a three+ page resume if you:
- Are you applying for a senior-level position, and/or are you already an executive?
- Are you applying to a specific field or industry where a longer resume is expected?
- Are using a portfolio-style document.
Deciding to Keep Your Resume a Certain Length
Unless you’re an early-career professional with limited experience, there is no reason to keep your resume a certain length.
The one-page guideline is not a hard-and-fast rule, and many hiring managers actually prefer two-page resumes that tell a story about a candidate’s professional history. At the same time, most hiring managers only look at a resume for 10 seconds before passing a candidate along, so keep that in mind as well.
With so much contradictory advice online about resume writing, it can be difficult to separate valuable information from misleading. If you’re unsure about keeping your resume a certain length, consider consulting with one of Ivy Exec’s one-on-one Career Advisors.