Resumes & Cover Letters

How Long Should a Resume Be?

May 24, 2021

If you’ve spent any time researching resume best practices, you might have heard that having a one-page resume is critical. Though there are certainly advantages of a concise, single-page resume, determining how long a resume should be isn’t necessarily as simple as keeping it on one page. Resume length comes after readability and content quality in importance, so let’s uncover what to focus on first and how resume length should be considered.

Resume Format
Image description

Resume Format
1. Name and contact information
2. Summary or objective
3. Professional history
a. Company name
b. Dates of tenure
c. Description of role and achievement
4. Education
5. Skills
6. Optional (Awards & Achievements, Hobbies & Interests)

How many pages should a resume be?

Ideally, a resume should be one page—especially for students, new graduates and professionals with one to 10 years of experience. The reason for this standard is that employers and hiring managers typically only have a few seconds to review your resume, so you should provide the most relevant and impressive information as succinctly as possible.

If you do have many years of relevant experience that results in a multi-page resume, is it acceptable to employers? The straightforward answer to this question is yes. However, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind if your resume spills onto two or even three pages:

Download Resume Template
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The more concise, the better

Communicating your most important and relevant information as briefly as possible is crucial. Recruiters and employers only have a few moments to decide whether or not your resume is a good fit for the role. In keeping with this practice, be critical of every point you include on your resume. Here are a few ways to make your resume more concise:

  • Instead of including every job duty for each position you’ve held at every company you’ve been at, consider including two to three bullet points of quantified (where possible) achievements.

  • Avoid using filler words, such as “that,” “the,” “a,” “an” or “like.

  • Consider removing experiences or information (like details in the education section or first jobs) that may not be relevant to the position you’re applying for.

  • Study the job description to get a better idea of what the employer may be looking for in your resume and what potential keywords to include.

Content over length

If you end up with two or more pages after you’ve removed filler words, unnecessary descriptors and irrelevant experiences and information, that’s okay. Keep your font size between 10 and 12 points and organize the information in a way that’s easy to consume.

Recruiters would much rather read two well-organized pages full of extremely relevant and helpful information than one page that’s difficult to read and crammed with information at a small font point. Keep in mind, however, that the first page will get the most attention so include information such as required skills and experience first.

5 rules for the right resume length

In addition to the previous considerations, there are five general guidelines to follow that can help you find the right length for your resume whether it’s one or two pages.

1. Try to limit the description of each role to 3-7 bullet points

Typically, 3-7 bullet points are enough to thoroughly describe your relevant accomplishments while also ensuring that the information is digestible. You should consider including more bullets to describe your most recent job and fewer for your older jobs.

2. Remember that impressive, targeted achievements matter most

Fewer well-written bullet points customized to the job description are more impressive to recruiters than a long list of duties. Consider adding numbers to measure your impact wherever possible.

3. Try to limit the length of each—or most—bullet points to two lines

Keeping the length of each bullet point to two lines can make it easier for reviewers to read your resume and quickly understand your key qualifications.

4. Only list job experience going back 15 years

In most cases, 15 years of experience is enough to demonstrate the skills necessary to succeed in a role. More than that could be overwhelming to read and distracting from more recent or relevant information.

5. Try different margins ranging from .5-1 inch

Appropriate margins for a resume are .5, .75 or 1 inch. The goal is to make sure your text is evenly distributed on the page and not packed in too closely. Try adjusting your margins to the different options to see which looks best for your resume. Usually, resumes with less text will have larger 1-inch margins and resumes with more text will have smaller .75 or .5 margins.

When two page (or more) resumes are okay

Including a second page to communicate key experiences, achievements, projects or other relevant information that show your direct qualifications for a role is absolutely acceptable to employers. Alternatively, if those two pages are filled with irrelevant information such as unrelated job duties or hobbies, this can be a turn-off and put your application at risk of being passed over.

Related: Words to Avoid and Include on a Resume

Though higher-level candidates like executives tend to have lengthier resumes due to more experience, level is not necessarily an indicator of how many pages a resume should be. While senior professionals may have an extremely well-crafted one-page resume packed full of concise, relevant information, students may also have two pages full of applicable projects, coursework, leadership experiences and internships.

When deciding on resume length, the key is to create the most concise, relevant and easy to read document possible. If possible, err on the side of one page, but not at the expense of readability. Whether your resume is one or multiple pages, length is secondary to quality content and high clarity.

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