Friday, May 25, 2012

How long should your resume be?

Writing a resume is tough stuff, really difficult and it feels like a life/death kind of exercise.  One of the biggest long should my resume be?  Now, you’ll hear a million different opinions on this topic and honestly no one is right.  That’s not true...I’m right on this topic.

In order to make this easy, I’m going to break it down by “Years of Experience” so if you fit into a certain can just read that and ignore my other comments.

Less than Five Years of Experience - This covers new graduates, interns and people generally about ~5 years out of school.  Generally speaking you want your resume to be one page. Standard career center advice here.  However and this is important!  If you have unique experience or have done really amazing work (think contribute to a cool startup or open source project or solved world hunger) then you should add a second page and show off your experience.  Under almost no circumstance should your resume be longer than two pages.

Five to Fifteen Years of Experience - Your resume should be two pages.  By now you’ve done enough to justify the second page (easily??) so you should use it.  Now, this does not mean you MUST use two pages.  If you have a career that’s pretty easy to explain, feel free to keep your resume one page.  Short and Sweet.  Additionally, you could add a third page if you needed it too...especially if you have a lot of publications or have done some truly remarkable work.  

Fifteen Plus - As a general resume rule, I’d recommend keeping your resume at two pages if possible regardless of your experience at this point.  If you’ve done a lot or really feel like you’ve got the experience to justify three pages by all means go for it.  Don’t go to four pages unless you are creating a CV and have a bunch of articles/publications to add.

I hope this makes sense, for the most part your resume should be around two pages. Quick True Story - I once got a thirty-four page resume from a guy....I laughed and rejected him.  Thanks dude, save a tree.  As a rule the shorter the better, and if you find yourself going long just beware as you don’t want recruiters throwing your resume in the trash before you have a chance to prove your great!

Would love to hear your comments!


  1. This is such a great blog!! I was just talking to my brother about that. He is a civil engineer and decided today to print his resume out so he can prepare to locate a new job at another engineering company. His resume was a book because he was including all the experiences he learn during his previous experience. I recommend him to shorten it down and leave those experiences to use to mention during his interviews rather than overwhelming the recruiter with so many pages to cover. Do you think I gave him good advice based on your blog or was your blog targeting applicants in the technology/business industry? Thanks Jeff in advance!

  2. Hi Khalid, great advice!!! Good luck to your brother!


  3. They always say that when you graduate from college and enter into job hunting. It is very necessary to have a 2-page resume because the only experience you can put there is your apprenticeship. But when you are experienced, just limit your resume to 4 pages only because you might intimidate the employer if you go beyond. I learned some of these during my class in Business English and Correspondence. I also learned some from Career Confidential.