Despite what you may have heard about sticking to one page, there’s no hard-and-fast rule for how long your resume should be.
If you’re a recent college graduate or seeking an entry-level position, a one-page resume may be smart, simply because you don’t have enough experience to fill any more pages.
However, single-page resumes are not recommended for mid-career professionals and those at the executive level. Hiring teams expect a resume with two or three pages of all your accomplishments—as long as you rely more on stats and achievements than filler and fluff.
Here’s a better approach to gauging the best resume length, including when to use or toss the one-page resume template.
Table of Contents
- Debunking the One-Page Resume Myth
- 5 General Guidelines for Resume Length
- How Far Back Should a Resume Go?
- Entry-Level Resume Length
- Professional and Executive-Level Resume Length
- When a Three-Page Resume Is Required
Debunking the One-Page Resume Myth
When you check out resume templates or examples, most of them strive to cram all your work experience onto one page. But there are pros and cons to this practice:
Pro: One-Page Resumes Force You to Get to the Point
Without much space to fill, single-page resumes force you to summarize your points so that you don’t spill onto another page.
You’ll be less tempted to stretch your experience or fluff it up just to create length. And a hiring manager will appreciate your ability to pitch your skills succinctly rather than waste their time.
This is why entry-level job seekers and recent college graduates should stick to one-page resumes. If you can make your skills and accomplishments stand out, your lack of experience won’t prevent you from reaching the interview round.
Con: They Don’t Adequately Highlight a Career of Achievement
If you’re an executive or mid-level professional, a one-page resume simply will not do your career justice.
Your years of experience and professional accomplishments are worth sharing with hiring managers seeking to fill high-level positions. These roles demand a track record of success, including years of creative thinking and problem-solving.
So it may take two to three pages to adequately market yourself and show you have the necessary skills and experience to get the job done.
Don’t be scared to venture off into that second page if you’re in this boat. In one of our articles, we shared research that showed recruiters were 2.3 times more likely to hire someone with a two-page resume (and 2.9 times more likely for managerial roles).
So rather than only thinking about filling pages, a better approach is to make the best use of your resume “real estate” to get your strongest points out.
5 General Guidelines for Resume Length
No matter what level position you’re currently in or looking to advance to, always follow these general guidelines on resume length:
1. Ditch the Filler; Nail Your Keywords
Again, don’t add fluff or filler content just to make your resume longer or appear more robust. Hiring managers can see right through this strategy. They’ll more than likely pass you up, assuming you don’t actually have the skills they’re looking for.
Instead, copy the main keywords in the job description (such as specific skills, job duties, or education) and make sure your resume explains how you check all these boxes.
2. Skip the Technical Jargon
Along with filler and clichéd statements (“I’m a go-getter and team player!”), you’ll also want to leave the technical jargon out of your resume.
Employers and hiring managers are more impressed by concise, powerful statements than technical, complex words. If you confuse them, your resume may earn a one-way ticket to the rejection pile.
Always aim for simple, substantial, memorable statements, even if it means your resume length may be shorter.
3. Strengthen Your Case With Supporting Details
Replace long-winded sentences with action verbs to show your experience and get to the point right away.
As you choose impactful highlights for your resume, think about adding specific details to strengthen each point. This could be an impressive stat, or even a chart, graph, or image that adds proof to your statements without distracting a reader or detracting from your message.
4. Use a Normal 12-Point Font and 1” Margins
Don’t increase your font size or margins just to take up more space if you lack experience. And don’t decrease your font size just to squeeze more in.
These obvious attempts to “fool” a hiring manager by swapping the appearance of substance for concrete facts will not work in your favor. And they can make your resume hard to read, which means someone may not take the time to.
5. Keep It Interesting
Your resume should keep a reader’s attention by using information relevant to the position. A hiring manager doesn’t want to read extra info about your time in a role that doesn’t pertain to the one you’re applying for.
Each statement on your resume should explain why your skills and experience make you the best-qualified candidate. It should excite a reader, not bore them with extra details they don’t need.
It’s essential to tailor your resume to the position you want versus telling a story about every job you’ve had since you first entered the workforce. Which brings us to:
How Far Back Should a Resume Go?
Including your entire work history is unnecessary in most cases. So you should think about what information a hiring manager needs to push a candidate through to the next round—and include only that.
A general rule of thumb is to provide 10-15 years of your job history as it relates to the new role you’re applying for. This typically covers the experience required, your track record, and a picture of your potential career trajectory.
Unless they specifically request a lengthy work history, you can leave off how you became a first-time manager in 1988, or your college internship back in 1975. You can also skip the explanations of jobs that have nothing to do with your current career aspirations.
Remember, the goal is to tailor your resume to the job you’re applying for, and to give the person reading your resume only the most relevant information for this specific job they’re hiring for.
So, to wrap up this popular question, the goal is to offer a concise summary of your work experience, not to fill as many pages as possible. Whether it takes one, two, or three pages all depends on where you are in your career.
Entry-Level Resume Length
If you’ve recently graduated college or are vying for entry-level positions, a one-page resume probably makes the most sense.
Employers hiring for these roles expect you to have little to no experience since you’re just starting out. Trying to fill more than one page with irrelevant information is only going to waste everyone’s time.
You’ll make more of a lasting impression by packing that single page with solid information—proving that you’re the right candidate in the briefest way possible.
But there is a caveat here: If you spent your college or post-grad years active in professional organizations and internships, you should toss out the one-page resume myth.
A two-page resume will help you to show off the substantial list of achievements you’ve earned and set you apart from the stack of other candidates. As long as this experience is relevant and you lean into the facts, you’ll gain a significant competitive advantage.
Professional and Executive Resume Length
When you’re contending for jobs higher up the career ladder, hiring managers will expect to see a resume longer than one page. Anything less could be a red flag that you don’t have the right experience.
Two pages will give you a better opportunity to clearly express your qualifications, accomplishments, and experience without cutting essential details.
Don’t have enough information to fill two pages? Try weaving in some of your cover letter points to shrink the gaps, add images/charts, or work in more keywords from the job description.
The opposite is also true: If you’re overflowing two pages, move some of that information to your cover letter to condense your resume.
Professional and Executive Resume Writing and Editing Tips
In this competitive job-seeking tier, you must:
Spotlight the unique experience you bring to the table. Your years of work history should highlight the specific value you’ll bring to a company, not what every other candidate will also include.
Focus less on soft skills (unless they pertain to the actual position). Someone with your experience will be expected to have mastered these by now.
Use a persuasive writing style. Compelling, convincing writing will strengthen and shorten your resume at the same time. Doing this also ensures that your resume will be engaging and impactful for a hiring manager who is busy reading hundreds of other resumes.
Think about the white space. Another way to help your resume stand out is by not filling it to the brim. Adding a visual white space or blank space makes a longer resume easier to read. It also provides a more modern, eye-catching layout.
Adding elements like charts and graphs can help break up your text and emphasize crucial points without adding more sentences.
These tips will help you to pare down a two-and-a-half or three-page resume. But there are times when you may need all three pages.
When to Fill Three Pages on Your Resume
Sometimes you can’t pare down a career’s worth of accomplishments to a two-page resume. So if you’re trimming too much essential info, a three-page resume may be in order.
However, you shouldn’t use this third page just to spill 30+ years of experience.
Save this last page for:
- Publications in which you’ve been mentioned—or even published.
- Extensive education you’ve received
- Awards, recognition, and accomplishments you haven’t previously mentioned in your resume
Page three is the perfect place to showcase these standout achievements.
If your resume has been concise and full of action verbs and stats thus far, a hiring manager will not only be tempted to see what’s on the last page but maybe even excited about reading further.
They’ll happily scan a page of honors because it gives them talking points to mention when discussing who should be called in for an interview. This page may also weigh heavily in their final decision.
Final Thoughts on Resume Length
Although there’s no hard-and-fast rule regarding your resume length—despite what you may have heard—you don’t want to go overboard in the hopes of looking more experienced.
You can prove your worth using action verbs, persuasive language, and concise sentences that show you have the experience and skills necessary to succeed in this new position. So get out all your strongest points first, and keep editing until your statements are brief, powerful, and memorable.
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About the author
Jessica Hernandez, President, CEO & Founder of Great Resumes Fast
Hi, I’m Jessica. I started this company back in 2008 after more than a decade directing hiring practices at Fortune 500 companies.
What started as a side hustle (before that was even a word!) helping friends of friends with their resumes has now grown into a company that serves hundreds of happy clients a year. But the personal touch? I’ve kept that.
You might have seen me featured as a resume expert in publications like Forbes, Fast Company, and Fortune. And in 2020, I was honored to be named as a LinkedIn Top Voice of the year!
I’m so glad you’re here, and I can’t wait to help you find your next perfect-fit position!
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