How long should a resume be? Many professionals say that they should be nothing more than a single page. However, others say that two pages are fine. So, which one should we all follow?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a definite answer. Recruitment trends change over the years and lead to differing opinions.
There isn’t a rule book dictating required resume length to applicants. However, we know you can’t help but ask the question above. If resume lengths are a head-scratcher to you, don’t worry. This entry will guide you to master this tricky skill. You’ll find these tips useful the next time you write a resume from scratch.
Things to Consider When Determining Your Resume Length
Are you stuck on a blank page? Meet your ideal resume length by keeping these things in mind:
Look at your professional experience
To make resume length guessing games less stressful, all you have to do is look at your job history. Where are you currently at in your professional life?
If you’re a college student, a fresh graduate, an entry-level applicant, or someone who has only worked in one or two companies, maybe consider keeping your resume short. But if you’ve had a considerable history (five or more years of experience) and knowledge, you may want to expand it to two pages to fit everything in. But is all your experience relevant?
Be relevant and recent
Recruiters want to see fresh history and applicable skills. Believe us when we say that they’re not going to let a training program from 20 years influence their hiring decisions, especially in fast-evolving industries like tech and e-commerce.
You can opt to exclude jobs that aren’t relevant to your desired position or career path too. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to list down every professional opportunity that you took. You’re better off enumerating your relevant experiences instead.
Make a bigger impact by adding bulleted descriptions of your relevant jobs. Stick to three bullet points to keep things short. You can even fuse a few lines into a single one if they’re talking about a similar subject.
Free up space
While resumes should be short, it doesn’t mean that you should cram everything into one space. Forcing content in places where it shouldn’t be will make your resume look cluttered.
If you see any irrelevant content and sections, cut them. You can always add a page if your relevant skills reach spacing and margin limits. For better spacing, try using 1.5 spacing. You can also switch up fonts and formats in a tasteful fashion. Remember, your resume is still a professional document—managers and recruiters form impressions based on the way you present yourself.
Don’t stretch and exaggerate, either
Descriptions are good. They give context, allowing readers to understand better what you’re trying to say. They’re great for resumes, too; how else will recruiters see your potential?
However, too many descriptions can be a bad thing.
Say you’ve had significant leadership experience in your previous employer. That’s great! When you’re writing descriptions for that experience, remember the golden rule of honesty. Lying has consequences that’ll reflect on you poorly.
A few substantial accomplishments and responsibilities are better than longer ones.
Professional responsibilities and accomplishments are never a bad thing. If anything, they show just how committed and competent you are at your job.
But the thing is, you don’t have to stuff all of them in your resume. This makes the whole document dull and unengaging to read. So here’s a pro-tip for you: list the significant and impactful ones instead. You can even quantify them to make them more measurable and credible.
Make your document suit the specific job posting
When you write a resume, remember that no two job postings are the same. Each application has different qualifications and requirements. So if you’re out job hunting, don’t forget to tailor your document to your desired position(s). This saves you a ton of space, time, and effort since you only have to consider inserting relevant information.
Remove the references
A reference section isn’t as necessary as it once was. Recruiters usually don’t require it during the early application stages, so just remove it from your resume. At this stage, you’re still awaiting a phone call or interview schedule anyway.
What you can do is place your references in a separate document. Bring a printed copy during your interviews, just in case hiring managers ask you to pass them.
Keywords are key
Keywords are no longer just for blogs. Resumes need them now too. Since most recruiters use applicant tracking system (ATS) platforms nowadays, your document needs to be ready for their scanners.
Increase your chances of getting hired and avoid potential clutter by inserting enough keywords in your resume’s content. Make sure they’re related to your target position/industry to prevent irrelevancy. You can look for them on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other career-oriented websites. Just scan the required skills of your desired jobs to get started.
Don’t list your interests and hobbies
Hobbies and interests on resumes are a double-edged sword: while they can help applicants distinguish themselves, they can also come across as biased. With that said, it’s best to leave them out of your documents.
If you want to insert them, try weaving them into your summary. Make sure these interests and hobbies are not too risque or inappropriate to include so that you won’t run into any trouble during the application process.
Add some active action to your voice
Do you want to sound convincing to recruiters? Write your resume in an active voice. Not only are they more direct, but they’re a lot shorter than passive voices too. Don’t forget to add industry-friendly action words for added impact.
Cut to the chase
We can’t emphasize enough how important this is. Recruiters won’t like it if you beat around the bush and repeat specific achievements you’ve already mentioned. Job interviews exist for a reason, so you shouldn’t have to expand every detail in your resume.
Whether you’re opting for a one-pager or a two-page resume, these guidelines are very much applicable. Resume length isn’t something to scoff about or ignore. Play around with your formatting until you find the right length that is both indicative of your experience and recruiter-friendly.