How Long Should Your Resume Be?

How long should your resume be? Thankfully this is among the easier resume questions to answer, since the answer is pretty much the same in pretty much any situation. In short, your resume should probably be about one to three pages, and the shorter, the better. Why? Statistics tell us that most hiring managers only make it through the top third of the front page of your resume before deciding to toss it in the waste bin or set it aside for later consideration. The exact length will depend on your level of experience, how many jobs you have held, when you held them, and how much detail you put under each of your headings. Here are some additional guidelines on resume length and formatting to help you fit within those one to three pages.

You don’t have to list every single position you have ever held.

If you have a lot of jobs under your belt, pick the ones which are most recent, most relevant, or a combination of both considerations. In general, employers care more about what you did last year than what you did 20 years ago, but they also want to see that you performed related work. If doing this results in gaps, you can explain them briefly in your cover letter. Just say you have held many positions and have listed those which are most relevant to the one you are applying for.

Keep the most relevant information on top.

If that’s your skills section, then put that on top. If it’s your work experience, that should go on top. Work experience should be listed in descending order according to time, regardless of where the section is placed. You also might put your education on top if that is most important at the time you submit your resume.

Edit each section of your resume to remove extraneous details, save space, and put in information that might be valuable to a particular employer.

This is one of the main tricks for saving space. You should have a different version of your resume for every job you apply for, in theory, or at least for each type of job. And don’t forget to put a unique objective statement on top.

Keeping your resume succinct helps you to express what really matters and to bring your message across in a more impactful way.

Hiring managers have to go through hundreds of resumes a week for many positions, and the last thing you should do is waste someone’s time. If your resume is a novel, hiring managers will usually toss it aside without a second glance.

A brief, powerful resume shows a hiring manager you respect his or her time and that you can express yourself well.

Include a cover letter so that you can provide more information which you cannot fit in your resume, but keep that short too. Several paragraphs is all you need. Don’t repeat information you have in your resume on your cover letter. You can hint at the contents of your resume, but it’s best to use the limited space on your cover letter to say something more individual and memorable.

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