Do you ever find yourself asking “how long should my resume be?”
You aren’t alone, but the answer is quite clear.
How many pages should your resume be?
- Candidates with <10 years experience or changing careers will usually fit on 1 page.
- Candidates with 10+ years of experience will generally require 2 pages.
- Federal resumes, some executive resumes, and Curriculum Vitaes (CVs) will typically be 3+ pages.
As you can see, the majority of people in the U.S. should have a resume that is 1-2 pages long.
Now whether you require 1 or 2 pages does vary, but this article will tell you exactly how long your resume should be.
There are, however, exceptions to this answer, like needing 3 or more pages in your resume. This article will address that too.
There is a lot to address so let’s get started!
A resume will be 1-2 pages for most applicants. This will be based on your experience.
The length of a resume suggests the level of the applicant’s experience.
Check out this chart for guidelines on the length of your resume:
Below, see some other great tips for managing your resume length:
- Do not repeat yourself. That is, do not repeat yourself. You waste space and add nothing of value. This includes saying similar things in two different parts of your resume.
- Include page numbers if your resume is over 1 page. If it is 1 page, numbering isn't necessary.
- Erase unnecessary content. Stating “References Available on Request” and writing out your street address is not only unnecessary but also not advised.
- Watch out for the passive voice. It will sound less effective and take up more space with extra words used.
- Use action verbs instead of saying “responsible for”.
- Do not sacrifice content or readability for the sake of length. Instead, rework and streamline any long-winded sections.
- You can adjust your resume's design formatting, as long as you keep it attractive.
- Emphasize your most relevant experience. If you occupied the same job for over a decade, you will have countless responsibilities. Draw attention to the responsibilities most relevant to where you are applying.
Remember that the average resume will only be looked at for 6 seconds, so don’t give the reader any reason to add your resume to the “no” group.
The single most important thing about your resume is that you include all the relevant content. As such, do not try to cram your experience into a set word count.
Write a draft, then you can think about length. Length is easily adjusted, content is not.
For some people, your resume can effectively be written on 1 page, while for others it might require 2 or more pages.
If you recently graduated and have less than 7-10 years of working experience, your resume will likely be 1 page long.
If you have more than 7-10 years of experience, unless it is all in the same job, your resume will probably require 2 pages.
It used to be the rule to keep a resume to 1 page. However, this is not the case anymore. Moreover, it is counterproductive to anyone who can’t sum up their experience on one page.
If you are writing a federal resume or a CV, skip to the section about exceptions to the 1- or 2- page resume.
Entry-Level Job Seekers (0-3 Years of Experience)
As an entry-level job seeker, in almost every case, your resume will be limited to one page. There’s only so much that you can include with limited experience.
This also applies to when one is making a significant change in career and you don’t have many years of experience in your new career path.
If you bullet point 20 responsibilities in a job, 50 skills, and your education back to elementary school, you will turn everyone off.
You might manage to stretch your resume out to 2 pages that way, but it is 2 pages that nobody will want to read.
The main point here is that you are looking at one page. Better one page of good content than two pages of wasted space.
The best advice for entry-level resume length is:
- It will almost always be 1 page long.
- Do not stretch this limited content out to be 2 pages long.
- Do not add unnecessary information for the sake of length.
- Tailor your resume to match up with the job you are applying to.
So how do you ensure that your 1-page resume gets looked over properly?
It’s an elevator pitch, not an autobiography. Highlight your accomplishments and make them concise.
Early Career Candidates (3-10 Years of Experience)
Having 3 to 10 years of professional experience will have you skirting the line between a one- and two-page resume.
This is dependent on the number of jobs that you have held, as well as projects and educational attainment.
Here is one example for you: If you’ve had 5 years of experience but you have had 10 jobs in that time, you probably won’t fit it all on one page.
On the flip side, if you have 10 years of experience but have only held one job, it should easily fit onto one page.
You are probably between these two examples.
If your resume is just over 1 page, we will give you tips later in this article to help you get your resume down to one page, so keep reading!
The best advice regarding resume length for 3-10 years of experience is:
- Your resume length will almost always be 1 or 2 pages.
- The length that you require will be contingent on how many jobs you’ve had.
- Don’t stretch limited experience out, or cut extensive experience down.
- Tailor your resume for the position that you are applying for and include relevant information.
If you find that you need to shorten the length of your resume, follow our tips about adjusting sections rather than completely cutting them out.
Mid-Career Professionals (10-20 Years of Experience)
Like with job seekers with 3-10 years of experience, the recommended resume length for professionals with 10-20 years of experience is not set in stone.
In the majority of cases, your resume will be 2 pages long.
You will probably find that you need 2 pages to accurately encompass your employment history, education, skills, and accomplishments.
However, it may be difficult to keep your resume down to 2 pages if you have a lot of experience. Follow our tips later in the article to effectively address this.
On the other hand, if you have held the same job for over 10 years, you might not have content that is much more than 1 page.
If you are changing careers and some of your experience is completely irrelevant to where you are applying now, you don’t want to waste too much space on these details.
The best advice for how long a resume should be for a 10- to 20-year professional is:
- Your resume will be 1 or 2 pages, but often 2.
- Do your best to limit your content to a maximum of 2 pages if at all possible.
- If you go over 2, adjust design formatting before thinking about cutting out important information.
- Tailor your resume to align with what is necessary for the role you are applying for.
Use a reverse-chronological resume and ensure that emphasis is placed on your experience because you have plenty.
You want your resume to be as concise as you can make it, but not at the expense of key details.
Top Tip: Do not feel pressure to make your resume an unnatural length. Include what you have to include, and then see about length - there are plenty of tips for condensing.
Senior-Level Job Seeker (20+ Years of Experience)
If you have more than 20 years of experience, in almost every case, your resume should be 2 pages long.
Except under very exclusive circumstances, only having 1 page of content will set off alarm bells.
Your experience, skills, and achievements will add up to more than just 1 page if we are considering 20+ years of work history.
If you are pursuing a position that you have extensive and relevant prior experience with, you want to fully convey this.
If you are targeting executive-level roles, you may use a 3-page resume if absolutely necessary. Be sure that all of your experience is relevant to the job you are applying for.
Having 3 pages of experience is nice, but the hiring manager just wants to see the experience that is applicable to the role they are trying to fill.
The best advice for resume length when you have 20+ years of experience is:
- Your resume should be 2 pages long.
- Do your best to accentuate the best of the last 20+ years.
- Place emphasis primarily on experience. Everyone has skills, not experience.
- Always tailor the content of your resume to line up with the role you are applying for.
You have a lot of experience, make the most of it by highlighting this.
There is plenty that can go on every resume, and adding skills is important. However, you can take advantage of what can make you different.
Every instance discussed above specified that your resume should be 1-2 pages long.
What about instances where that is not the case? There are some resumes that will often need to be longer.
- Federal Government. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but these roles require more than the average civilian resume. Additional sections and information will need to be included in these resumes so they are generally 4-6 pages long.
- Academia or Research CV. As with a federal resume, you can expect additional sections and additional length to these resumes (5+ pages). From speaking engagements to projects to patents to courses to publications, there is a lot you may need to discuss.
- International CV. Depending on what country you are looking to apply for work in, they will have a preferred format and number of pages. Follow guidelines specific to the country.
- Freelancers. Especially in tech, you may find that it is rather difficult to keep details about projects, contracts, proficiencies, certifications, etc. down to two pages. Well, you don’t always have to.
- Executives. Your resume will provide a clear outline of your fantastic record in leadership roles. Sometimes, with many years of experience and many roles under your belt, keeping this down to 2 pages is just impractical. If you choose to use a 3-page resume, ensure that all of the content is relevant to the role you are applying to.
(Check out more detailed information on writing a CV.)
Generally, you should not go back further than 20 years on your resume. Sometimes, even 15 years.
Imagine that you are applying to a job as a VP of Finance. Your time working at McDonald’s 25 years ago will not help your resume at all.
It is great that you did it, but it won’t be relevant.
Consider also the existence of recency bias.
A hiring manager will favor your rival if you present virtually identical resumes if they list their achievements more recently.
If you list your big wins as 20 years ago, whereas they list the same in the last 2 years, the latter will be preferred.
Also, if you go back over 20 years, you are talking about your past self. Experience from further back than this will not be considered relevant.
It says little of you today.
So how far should a resume go back?
It often depends on your resume length. Need to cut back on space? Go with 15 years. Need to add space? Go with 20 years.
Your main concern here is making it appear that you are not leaning on your past self’s accolades, but just showing your track record as you continue to achieve great things.
Top Tip: For any additional relevant experience that is older than 15-20 yeas, you can add them in a section called “Additional Experience”. Include only one line per experience.
It used to be expected and even required, but times have changed.
As we discussed above, it is considerably more important to balance relevant content with being concise. However, one page can be too short to strike that balance.
You are trying to be concise and enticing. Generally, that means that you should avoid going over 2 pages.
However, there is more to it than length. If you have tiny margins and size 9 font throughout, including headings, you’ll keep the page number down, but your resume will be overwhelming to the reader.
Although it doesn't need to be one page, keep your resume concise, informative, and attractive.
In most cases, the answer is yes. A hiring manager is not naturally inclined to sort a 3-page resume of every experience you've had into the "yes" pile.
However, there are instances in which 3 pages (or more) may be required.
When Is It Acceptable?
Several instances were discussed above where a resume can be longer than 2 pages.
A federal resume is often 4-6 pages long.
If the role you are interested in requires a CV (for academia, research, or an international job), it will likely be over 2 pages long because of the additional information you will need to include.
As a freelancer or executive, sometimes 2 pages is not quite enough space, and going to a third page is necessary. Just keep the information applicable to the role you are applying to.
When Is It Not Acceptable?
From an entry-level candidate to a professional with less than 20 years of experience, a 3-page resume is neither necessary or wanted.
Keep the information you include on your resume relevant and powerful.
So you have a general idea as to what resume length to aim for in correlation with how much experience you have.
How do you make sure that your content is eye-catching and engaging?
We'll walk you through that now.
How Do I Shorten My Resume?
Here are our top tips for shortening your resume if needed:
- Ensure that all that you write is concise and relevant. Use active voice, and not a passive voice.
- Cut out irrelevant and unnecessary information like high school information and references if not asked for specifically.
- Ensure that you haven’t been long-winded about jobs. Keep responsibilities to 3-5 bullet points.
- Condense. Say things efficiently. If you can sensibly make three bullet points into one, do it.
- Adjust font type, font size, line spacing, and margins, but do not make your resume look overcrowded.
- Make sure that you didn’t include information that is out-dated on your resume.
Don’t sacrifice quality. Always remember that quality beats quantity.
(Get more information on formatting your resume here.)
What If My Resume is 1.5 Pages Long?
A 1.5-page resume is not ideal because there will be a lot of white space. It can look like you don’t have much to say about yourself if you appear to stop abruptly.
You can address this. The necessity for your resume to be 1 page is dead (unless you have very little experience), so you do not have to cut words out.
Some fonts are bigger than others, you do not want your content to be larger than size 12, but even scaling your resume up to being 1.8 pages with the same content will look less empty.
Is there anything that you didn’t go into enough detail about? Add to that.
Is the font for your titles and headings too small? Change that.
Have you used 3 bullet points to describe responsibilities? The advice is 3-5, so maybe add a couple more.
Top Tip: If you come across this issue, check your line spacing! You want your resume to be attractive and readable. If you haven’t bumped your spacing up from 1 to 1.15, that will add space and make it look more readable without changing anything else on your resume.
So how many pages should a resume be? We have established that the answer is not a one-size-fits-all situation.
The answer is contingent on the amount of relevant information that you have for your resume.
- One page is for when you are a recent graduate or with limited experience thus far. It may also be used by someone who is switching career paths as they do not have a lot of relevant information. Generally, the cut-off is around 10 years, but each case is different.
- Two pages are often preferred by employers these days, but only if the content in these two pages merits that length. If you have sufficient experience and relevant content for two pages, then going with 2 pages is ideal for you.
- Three pages or more is for exceptional circumstances like senior executives with many years of experience, freelancers, federal resumes, and CVs.
Whichever group you find yourself fitting into, remember that the rule is that quality matters more than quantity.
You want your resume to be as concise as it can be while still selling you as a qualified candidate.