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How long should a resume be?
"If it's too short, the hiring manager might think I'm inexperienced. If it's too long, will they ever read it?"
If that line of thinking gives you anxiety, you’re not alone. But if you scroll down just a bit, you’ll stop worrying about the perfect resume length.
This guide will help you:
- Answer the age-old question, “How long should a resume be?”
- Put exactly the right amount of information on your resume.
- Decide how far back you want your resume to go.
- Adjust your resume layout so that your resume has just the right length.
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Looking for more resume writing guides? Check out these additional resources:
- Best Resume Tips
- Common Resume Mistakes
- Free Word Resume Templates
- Modern Resume Templates
- Resume Keywords
- Resume Styles
- Reverse Chronological Resume
- US Resume Format
- What to Include on a Resume
How Many Pages Should a Resume Be?
A job application should generally be one page long when making an entry-level resume, and two pages for those with much more experience. As an unwritten rule, try to aim for one page if you have less than 10 years of experience, but you can go for a two-page resume if your relevant experience is diverse.
You’re very unlikely to need more than two pages, though—unless you are:
- Applying for a federal job (federal job resumes tend to be longer).
- Writing an academic CV rather than a resume (check out the difference between a CV and a resume if you’re unsure what we mean).
Why is a one-page resume the best option for most candidates? Well, hiring managers are busy people who only spend six seconds looking at each resume before making a decision. So if your resume is longer than expected for the position, the recruiter won’t even bother to skim it.
Expert Hint: When determining how far back to go on your resume, focus on the relevance of your work experience to the job you are applying for. It's generally recommended to include at least 10-15 years of relevant work experience, emphasizing your most recent roles.
How to Create a Perfect Resume Length
No matter if you’re a professional with 10+ years of experience or only kicking off your career. There are universal rules to keeping your resume a perfect length.
1. Keep Your Resume Relevant
Got a university or college degree? Don’t mention your high school.
Writing a software engineer resume? Don’t say that you babysat your nephew or got a truck driver’s license.
Information that doesn’t add any genuine value to your resume doesn’t belong there. If you choose to include hobbies on your resume, select ones that build on job-related skills or make you a uniquely interesting person. Leave out the side gigs that have nothing to do with the job you’re applying for. Also, don’t make the education section of your resume longer than it should be.
2. Follow the Best Practices for Resume Formatting
To take the guesswork out of resume formatting, you can use a resume builder with a rich gallery of professionally-designed resume templates. But if you prefer a more DIY approach, here’s how to create an efficient resume layout that makes your resume look exactly as long as it should:
- Set the margins to 1 inch on all sides.
- Pick a classic resume font and set the size to 11–12 pt.
- Opt for a line spacing of around 1.15.
- Make the headings of your resume sections bigger than the body text (you can also use a different font and even experiment with color accents to highlight them).
- Add some whitespace around the sections so they don’t blend when you look at your resume from a distance.
You can experiment with these settings a tiny bit, but not too much. Don’t cram everything close together just to have a one-page resume—it’s better to have an extra page than to terrify the recruiter with a headache-inducing wall of 8pt text.
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3. Focus on Achievements, Not Responsibilities
Compare these two job descriptions:
This cook shows how their skills in food preparation, inventory management, and understanding customer needs directly translate into measurable achievements and clear business results.
What about this one?
Do those bullet points demonstrate that the person was good at the job? Not really. They’re basically a generic description of what any restaurant cook is supposed to do. They don’t add any value to the resume and simply take up space.
It’s better to have three unforgettably juicy bullet points instead of seven painfully bland ones. If your resume is dangerously spilling over onto the second page, consider trimming away anything that doesn’t focus on measurable achievements.
Expert Hint: If you’re new to writing professional resumes, take your time researching how to do this. We recommend starting with our expert guide on how to write a resume.
4. Leave Something for Your Cover Letter
You don’t have to put every single professional achievement on your resume. After all, you also need some impressive accomplishments for your cover letter!
(If you wanted to take a lazy approach to cover letter writing and just repeat the things you’ve written in your resume… don’t.)
But… what does cover letter writing have to do with resume length?
You see, your cover letter is a great place to share all the awesome things about you that don’t quite fit on a resume. For example, some epic professional achievements are just too complex to explain in a single bullet point. So instead of shoving everything into your resume, you might want to move some of the information into your cover letter.
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Here’s what you need to know about resume length:
- There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to the question, “How long should a resume be?”
- However, most people should aim for a one-page resume.
- You may want to consider a two-page resume if you’re a very experienced professional with a lot of achievements and an extensive skillset.
- There’s no reason to go over two pages unless you’re writing a federal resume or an academic CV—they can be much longer than typical resumes for the job market.
Got a question about the best resume length, or maybe a fascinating story about a very long (or very short) resume? Drop us a line in the comments section, and let’s get the conversation started!