Back in the day, a 1 page resume was the golden rule. With the use of fax machines and printers running wild, you didn’t want to chance the second or third page of your resume getting lost or jammed.
But those days are way behind us.
Today, applications are sent digitally through email, job boards and websites. No chance of your resume pages getting lost now.
In 2019, the rules for resume length have changed. There is no longer a 1 page rule for everyone. The length of your resume is now determined by your job, industry and years of experience. Although there is no hard and fast rule, there are a set of guidelines you need to follow to determine the length of your resume. In this guide, we will cover:
How Long Should A Resume Be In 2019?
How Many Years To Include On Your Resume
How To Condense Your Resume
Using Formatting To Your Advantage
How To Maintain Your Resume’s Visual Style
Resume Length Q&A
How Long Should A Resume Be In 2019?
In 2019, there is no hard and fast resume rule. The length of your resume depends on a number of factors, including your job, industry and years of experience.
For 90% of the population, your resume will be between 1 to 2 pages in length. There are a few exceptions when 3+ pages are allowed. Below we will go over the guidelines for who should have a 1 page resume, a 2 page resume, and the exceptions for a 3+ page resume.
1 Page Resume
40% of the population will fall under the 1 page resume category. A 1 page resume is appropriate for you if:
If… You Are Right Out Of School
If you are straight out of school, whether it be high school or college, a 1 page resume is the best for you. Now that you are looking for professional roles, your resume should focus on your coursework, skills, relevant experience, school projects and volunteer work. All of this should fit neatly on 1 page. There are a few exceptions to this under the 2 page resume description below.
If… You Have Less Than 2 Years of Relevant Experience
If you have less than 2 years of work experience, keep your resume to 1 page in length. If you are applying for positions in the same field, for example if you are currently a cashier applying for another cashier position, only keep your experience that is relevant. This means you would omit any non-cashier or non-customer service positions. For example, you would remove your experience of being a plumber or a landscaper.
If… You Are Making A Career Change
If you are making a radical career change and your new career path doesn’t require experience, keep your resume to 1 page in length. For example, let’s say you have been a baker for 10 years but are now looking to start a career as a software engineer. Your baking experience is no longer relevant, so create a clean, 1 page resume that details your technology experience.
If a 1 page resume is right for you, check out the ‘Blue Skies’ resume template. The smaller font and vertical section headers are ideal for fitting all of your experience into a single page.
2 Page Resume
50% of the population will fall under this category. That means the majority of people out there should stick with a 2 pager. A 2 page resume is the new golden rule and is appropriate if:
If… You Have 2 to 20+ Years Of Experience
Anyone with 2 or more years of professional experience should create a resume that is 2 pages in length. I know this is hard to hear for those that have 15+ years of experience, but we will discuss how to condense your resume later in this article.
It is important to remember that hiring managers spend no more than 6 seconds looking at your resume, no matter how many pages it is. The more pages you have, the less time they spend looking at each page, which means a resume that is more than 2 pages will get scanned over in a serious way.
If… You Were A Top-Notch, Award-Winning Student
For those students who went above and beyond in school, a 2 page resume might be for you. This is only the case if you have a ton of class projects, awards, publications, honors, extracurricular activities, personal projects, and work experience that could not fit on a single page. If you are a top-notch, award-winning student, a 2 page resume might be for you!
If you fall into the 2 page resume category, check out the ‘van Deco’ resume template. The consistent formatting and editable section headers are perfect for fitting all of your experience onto two pages.
3+ Page Resume
The other 10% are the exceptions who can submit a resume that is 3 pages or more. You are one of the exceptions if:
If… You Need A CV, Not A Resume
There is a big difference between a CV and a resume. A CV is typically used in academia (if you are a professor), in the sciences (if you are a researcher), and in healthcare (if you are a doctor or PA). In these cases, you will write a CV which is, at least, 3 pages in length. Depending on your experience, a CV can be anywhere between 3 to 8 pages. CVs are lengthy because they include the regular resume content, in addition to publications, licensure & certifications, speaking engagements, professional courses, and patents.
Be careful though, as many job postings might say “submit your CV”, when really they are looking for a resume. In North America, the only people who should be using a CV are the ones who work in the academia, sciences and healthcare fields, as listed above.
If… You Work In The Government Sector
Working in the government sector is a whole different ball game. For government positions, resumes that are 2 to 5 pages are normal and expected. The government is very bureaucratic and rigid, so your resume needs to be thorough and detailed for your application to be considered. In addition to the usual resume information, government resumes need to include the exact dates of employment (month & year), your level (manager, supervisor, etc.), the hours that you worked per week, your division, your supervisors, a detailed list of your responsibilities, your tangible achievements and your references.
If a 3 page resume is right for you, check out the ‘true red’ resume template. The bold, red name and movable section headers are perfect for adding or deleting content to span across three (or more) pages.
How Many Years To Include On A Resume
Resumes should include 10 to 15 years of relevant, professional experience. Although rare, the exception to this is if the job posting calls for more experience, for example 20 years. In this case, you can include all 20 or more years of your experience.
Now that it is 2019, you should avoid including any experience from the 1980’s or 1990’s. Even though you may have had valuable experience during those years, most recruiters consider that experience to be dated and the technology too old to have an impact on your current employability.
For those who have more than 10 years of experience, and can’t bear to remove experience beyond that, consider adding a ‘career notes’ or ‘additional experience’ section to the end of your resume. In this section, list the name of your employer and your job title, but leave out the dates of employment and your responsibilities.
How To Condense Your Resume
For many people, it is challenging to condense your resume to 1 or 2 pages in length. Here are some tips from professional resume writers to help you cut down the length:
Add A Career Notes Section
If you have 10+ years of experience, include the past 10 years of experience in long-form, detailing your responsibilities, the dates of employment and achievements. Anything past 10 years ago, list it out in a ‘career notes’ or ‘additional experience’ section, including only your job title and company.
Stick To 3 to 5 Bullet Points Per Position
Under each position description, limit your achievements and responsibilities to 3 to 5 bullet points for each position. It is rarely ever appropriate to have more than 5 bullet points for one position, so cut down on the fluff and include only what is relevant. Remember that you will be able to go into more detail about each position during an interview. You just need to give the hiring manager a hard-hitting taste of your major accomplishments. The rest you can explain later.
Focus on Accomplishments, Not Responsibilities
Use your bullet points to list accomplishments, not a list of your daily responsibilities. Metrics, awards and achievements make more of an impact than daily tasks. Incorporate as many numbers and tangible facts as you can in each position description.
Don’t Repeat Responsibilities
A huge mistake many people make is repeating the same responsibilities in each position description. The purpose of your resume is to give the hiring manager a taste of what you can accomplish, but there is no need to repeat your abilities over and over again. Vary your responsibilities between each job description. Even if you were essentially doing the same thing in your roles, include a different set of responsibilities under each.
Use Formatting To Your Advantage
The easiest way to cut down on length, while maintaining the integrity of your content, is to strategically use formatting to your advantage.
Font & Size
Your resume should be in Arial or Times New Roman. These are proven to be the easiest to read on all devices, including desktop, tablet, laptop and mobile, which is important because you never know which device managers will be using to review resumes.
The body of your resume should be in 10, 11 or 12 point font. No smaller or larger. For your section headers, scale up one size from the size used for the body of your text. For example, use 10 point for the body and 11 point for the section headers. Your name and resume header should be in 14 or 16 point size.
Never leave too much white space on your resume. Your resume should be condensed while still leaving adequate space to tell the difference between sections. To check out your white space, zoom out on your Word document to 40% and scan the page to see if there are big bulky blank spots. For your paragraphs, use single spacing, not double.
There are three acceptable resume margins: normal, narrow and moderate. Only use normal margins if you have a small amount of experience and are struggling to fill out 1 page. Most people will either use narrow or moderate margins though. Play around with both to see which one gets you to your needed page length.
How To Maintain Visual Style
It is always a struggle to balance condensing your resume with creating an appealing visual style. The first rule is to keep it simple. Don’t use fancy colors, graphics, or fonts, unless you’re a creative professional, and a creative resume is expected of you.
Another easy way to maintain your visual style is to use a resume template like this one. The beautiful thing about using a template is that the formatting and style remain visually appealing, no matter what content you add or delete from it. With a resume template, there is no need to worry about your content affecting the spacing, margins or font. It is all seamlessly adjusted for you.
Resume Length FAQ
Here are some quick and dirty resume length FAQs to summarize what we have covered.
Q: How long should a resume be?
A: There is no hard and fast rule. The length of your resume depends on your job, industry and years of experience.
Q: Who should have a 1 page resume?
A: Recent graduates and those with less than 2 years of professional experience should have a 1 page resume.
Q: Who should have a 2 page resume?
A: The majority of people will have a 2 page resume. This is appropriate for any professional that has between 2 and 20+ years of experience.
Q: Who should have a 3+ page resume?
A: Professional in the fields of academia, science and healthcare should write a CV which is typically 3 to 7 pages in length. People working in the government sector should have a resume between 3 to 5 pages in length.
Q: How many years of experience should you include on your resume?
A: You should include 10 to 15 years of relevant, professional experience on your resume.
Q: How can you condense your resume?
A: Add a ‘career notes’ section for your experience longer than 10 years. Stick to 3 to 5 bullet points for each position description. Focus on accomplishments, not responsibilities. Don’t repeat responsibilities between positions.
Q: How can you use formatting to your advantage?
A: Use Arial or Times New Roman font in 10, 11 or 12 point size. Reduce the amount of white space by using single spacing for your paragraphs. Use narrow or moderate margins.
Q: How can you condense your resume while maintaining visual style?
A: Focus on keeping your style and formatting simple. You can also use a resume template to keep the formatting consistent and appealing while adding or removing content.
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