How Long Should Your Resume Be?

Over the past couple of months, career expert Jeff Hunter has surveyed a group of recruiters and HR managers in order to provide job seekers with insight into the hiring process. His list of ten questions inspired interesting responses, including varied answers regarding resumes and resume length. It’s clear that there isn’t a straight answer to the age-old question “How long should my resume be?”

Here are some of the responses from top recruiters and HR executives:

“1-2 pages for a junior candidate, 3-4 pages for a senior candidate.”–Glenn Kwarcinski, senior technical recruiter in the Wireless Technologies Division of Apple

“One page, but I don’t ding people for more than that.”–Craig Campbell, director of talent acquisition at Dolby Laboratories

“2 pages . . . that’s it. But I believe a true recruiter’s job is to set interviews, not submit resumes.”–Sean Rehder, recruiter

“There is [no single correct answer.] But remember that the longer you go, the greater the chance of boring the reader.”–Jeff Hunter, career expert

And here are five tips to consider as you update your resume and debate the length it should be:

1. Make sure your resume clearly and succinctly communicates your achievements. Avoid resume “filler”–vague language that doesn’t precisely explain a skill or an accomplishment. According to Rusty Rueff, Glassdoor career and workplace expert, you should try to tie each thing in your work history to a measurable result you achieved.

2. Evaluate whether an achievement is best highlighted in your resume, in an interview, or perhaps in your cover letter. Rueff says, “The resume is an outline, or a storyboard of you. It tells a story of continued achievement and growth. Storyboards hit the high points; the interview is when you can introduce dialogue, drama, the overcoming of barriers, and so on.”

3. Consider whether a long-ago job best supports your qualification for a job you’re after today. For example, a valuable experience waiting tables at one of the busiest restaurants in your town may have taught you how to multitask, but does that job readily speak to why you would make a great software engineer at Oracle?

4. Look at the format of your resume with fresh eyes and consider whether a brief paragraph or five to seven bullets would more easily express what you managed to do in your last few jobs. Rueff explains, “Consider your audience. For example, if you’re applying for a job that will require a lot of writing, consider developing a two- or three-sentence paragraph for each job that gives a hint of your writing skills. However, if you’re in a technical field, brief bullets may best showcase your experience. The bottom line is that whether you bullet-point your achievements or offer more color in a paragraph format, everything should be tied to a result and tell a mini-story within the bigger career story of you.”

5. Avoid cliffhangers or one-liners that extend your resume to a second or third page. Often that last hanger line will either be ignored or simply have the potential employer asking, “Why didn’t they clean that up?!’

And last but not least, if you’re concerned about resume length even after running through each of these considerations, do not shrink the font size to something barely readable. Recruiters, hiring managers, and others who can help get you a job want to actually read your resume, so don’t make doing so difficult. While there is no rule of thumb when it comes to the overall length, one to two pages is still the average. For your resume, ask yourself whether it’s direct, informative, insightful, and appropriate to your skills and experience. No problem, right?!

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Posted in Employment, How To.

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