As a recruiter for more than 25 years, I’ve witnessed the war between human resources, hiring managers, interviewers, job seekers and others who fiercely debate how long a résumé should be. There is, however, one consensus that people can agree upon: presenting a 10-plus page résumé is ridiculous—even if you’re Elon Musk.
It’s important to note that the length of your résumé should not be the primary focus. Instead, the content is what matters. Ensure that the document is specifically tailored to the job that you’re applying for. The bullet points of your current work responsibilities must address the needs outlined in the job description.
To catch the attention of the hiring personnel, the document has to clearly and concisely detail what you are currently doing, along with what you have accomplished at other prior positions and companies.
Pretty pictures, graphs, charts and cute and funky fonts aren’t appreciated, unless it’s designed for a creative type of job. Otherwise, it is distracting, and your résumé will have difficulty going through the applicant tracking system.
The Look And Feel Of The Résumé
The key is keeping the résumé concise, allowing enough room to compellingly articulate your value while maintaining an uncluttered and professional look. Think in terms of quality over quantity of content.
No matter how wonderful you think you are, with today’s fast-paced TikTok mindset of getting quick bursts of information and long-form largely considered “TLDR” (too long, didn’t read), you need to capture the attention of your intended audience quickly without bogging them down with too much material, which will turn them off.
It Depends On Your Level Of Experience
The standard length for a résumé is typically one to two pages. However, the specific length that is right for you will depend on your experience level and the type of job you are applying for. For recent graduates and professionals with less than 10 years of experience, a one-page résumé is usually sufficient.
For a mid-to-late career professional, the ideal résumé length is generally two pages. Condensing it to a single page risks losing pertinent information that sells your skills and achievements. A two-page résumé allows adequate space to summarize longer-term roles and accomplishments, while remaining scannable for recruiters.
If you write a three-page or more résumé, you risk losing the audience’s attention, as the content may be repetitive, and the salient data may get lost with all the verbiage. Also, when a hiring manager, HR and interviewer reviews the résumé, it’s likely being read on a phone, tablet or laptop, and three pages will seem very long on these screens.
However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, if you are looking for a job in academia or the sciences, your academic CV or résumé could be more than two pages long and up to 15 pages.
Recruiters like to see substance and relevance and don’t really care about the length. If it were up to a recruiter, résumés would be one paragraph long, containing the only relevant bullet points that showcase why you are a perfect fit for the job.
Tips for Writing A Concise Résumé
When putting together your résumé, use keywords that pertain to the job you are applying for, which can be found in the job description. Highlight your skills and experience that are most relevant to the job. Use clear and concise language, and avoid using jargon or acronyms that the reader may not be aware of. Most importantly, proofread your résumé carefully before submitting it.
What Résumé Experts Say On The Matter
The résumé should serve as a teaser to get conversations going—not to communicate the entire story, according to Gina Riley, a career advisor and professional résumé writer. Riley says, “The purpose of the résumé is to communicate one’s unique value proposition and key results, open doors and start conversations.”
She warns that for the average experienced professional, if they offer a lengthy résumé, it raises concerns that they lack some basic common sense, or the ability to streamline their messaging. “The extensive length of the résumé would be a red flag that indicates the person will be too verbose in the interview process and incapable of succinctly telling their story.”
Adrienne Tom, a Canadian-based, award-winning résumé writer for executives, says a good rule of thumb for résumé length is two pages, but with the caveat that a résumé can be shorter or longer, depending on a person’s career history and how much relevant details they have to share.
According to Tom, the length alone does not determine a resume’s effectiveness, “It’s the quality of the résumé content that counts. Less can be more, and job seekers are wise to focus on delivering quality content versus a set quantity of content.” She advises, “Nothing should go on a résumé that is not relevant to the reader.”
Tom adds that job seekers must be able to share their value fast, “Hiring personnel are short on time and want to be spoon-fed clear examples of ability and achievement in their unique areas of need.”
Lisa Rangel, an executive résumé writer and former recruiter, gets right to the point by stating, “The key is, regardless of the page length, that you write to motivate the reader to keep scrolling to learn about how you are right for their open role.”