How many pages should a resume be? What is the best resume font size? How far should a resume go? These questions boil down to one simple thing - understanding of the proper resume length. Determining how many pages your resume should be is one of the most common challenges people face when preparing for the upcoming job search campaign. In fact, many resume professionals and career experts struggle with this very issue. The reason why choosing an ideal length is not easy is because too little information may not be enough for employers while too much information may lead recruiters to lose interest in the application. To make things worse, one size doesn't fit all. What works for a recent graduate will not be an adequate solution for an experienced professional. So it is quite a careful balancing that needs to be done when writing a resume. This balancing should be based on the understanding of hiring practices as well as employers' expectations. The following tips will help you answer the question - how long should your resume be in 2019?
How Many Pages Should a Resume Be?
It is 2019. We don't use fax machines anymore. Neither do we use paper resumes that much. However, one thing remains the same - job seekers still have the same task which is to impress potential employers. Fast. But does that mean your resume should be one page regardless of your skills and achievements? Not necessarily, because how then can you prove your proficiency if you've got a lot to offer? The big question is how to maneuver between a six-second test (this is how much employers spend in average on skimming through a resume) and listing all necessary information on the document? Here is the principle that should drive the entire writing process (and hopefully which will help you resolve the issue): your resume should be as short as possible while still communicating your worth.
Many job seekers try to make sure their main application document falls into this category. The rationale behind this is simple: if employers spend six seconds on average on scanning one resume, then the document should be no longer than one page. However, this page limit usually works for students, graduates, entry-level employees and even those who spent 3-5 years in the workforce. The truth of the matter is that the number of pages should be tied to the level of proficiency and accomplishments of the candidate. It is just that usually, the number of years spent in the workforce correspond with the level of achievements. However, sometimes professionals with 10 (or even 15) years of experience won't have enough "muscles" for a two-page resume.
Seasoned professionals with a solid list of achievements are entitled to a two-page resume format. If you can't squeeze your experience into a one-page format, that's OK. That doesn't mean you will be automatically disqualified from the competition because your resume is too long. The only rule is not to include information that has nothing to do with the job you are applying for (in that case, your resume may well be beyond two or even three pages). Make sure you include only relevant achievements, experience, educational credentials, and other information that will communicate that you are the right fit for the company.
Three Pages and More?
There are instances where applicants actually need to go beyond two or even beyond three pages. This is extremely rare though. Professionals with experience in academia or medical field often have to list their publications and other credentials that often result in a three-page resume or even longer. This is an acceptable practice in the field of science, medicine, and academia. For most candidates going beyond two pages isn't necessary at all. In fact, we rarely saw a job seeker who actually needed that third page.
One More Time: Should a Resume Be One Page?
People somehow internalized this rule that a resume should be only one page. That's why we have to say it again: no, it isn't the rule anymore. It is outdated and job seekers don't have to go through incredible motions to keep everything on a single page. Like we said before, your resume should be as short as possible while communicating your worth. Yes, you should be trying to make it as brief and concise as possible. Yes, very often it means everything will fit on one page. But let's be realistic: sometimes it is impossible to convey your worth on a single page. And it is absolutely OK! Two-page resumes are common now so you don't have to agonize over how to squeeze everything onto one sheet of paper. Just to be clear on this issue, the length isn't an automatic deal-breaker on its own. You have to realize that if anyone rejects a candidate simply because their resume is one page longer than needed, that HR probably isn't the smartest person in the world. That doesn't mean job seekers may forget about resume length limits - it is still important - but it is not the most decisive factor as many believe it is. Another important thing is that the length of your resume actually gives an employer an understanding of how good you are at conveying essential information quickly and how do you know what's really important. So don't underestimate the importance of the number of pages but also don't put all the blame on the length.
What to Put on a Resume?
The length of the document is defined by its content an all content is divided into sections for better readability. Submitting a resume in the form of an essay is like jumping off the skyscraper hoping to successfully land on your feet. But the question is what kind of information should be on a resume in order to keep it relevant and concise at the same time?
Contact Information. This part of your resume should include your name, professional title, phone number, email address, and preferably a link to your LinkedIn and URL to your website/portfolio.
Summary. This is your value proposition. It is best to write it in the form of a bulleted list (4-6 statements will be more than enough). Keep in mind that this section should be about what you can offer to your employer (ideally, it is what they want).
Experience. This part of your resume should include your jobs (for the last 15 years). List your relevant jobs in reverse-chronological order, starting from the most recent ones. Also, try to focus on your achievements rather than responsibilities.
Education. Employers want to know a list of your degrees and schools. You can include any honors or awards. Also, you may want to add relevant certifications and licensure (either as subsection or just create a separate section).
What other sections? You could add either a skills section, membership section or whatever lines up well with the job requirements. This is another chance of saying why you are the right fit for the company.
Common Resume Length Related Questions & Answers
At Prime-Resume, we often receive questions from job seekers and our clients about different stages of the resume writing process. A big portion of those questions is about the length of the resume. We have decided to gather the most common ones below and have our industry experts answer them. The average job opening attracts about 200-300 resumes. The question is where will your resume end up?
How far back should a resume go?
One of the things job seekers can do in order to follow the aforementioned resume length recommendations is to limit the work experience section to the last 15 years. The reason is because employers are interested in the most recent jobs and titles; rarely any HR manager will be investigating what you did 25 years ago because it is not relevant in the employer's context today. Remember that it is all about how your experiences tie back to the job requirements so placing the emphasis on your recent accomplishments is more than a reasonable move.
What's the best resume font size?
Shrinking the font size is one of the ways job seekers can make their resumes shorter (to make sure that information doesn't overflow onto another page). However, don't go too far - turning your resume into an eye chart for the employer will unlikely help your main marketing document stand out. The standard resume font size is 12-point, however, you can shrink it down to 11-point or sometimes even 10-point. Make sure though that your headings remain larger than the rest of the content - they can easily be reduced to 14 or 15 points. You can also play with different font styles both to improve readability as well as make your resume shorter. Such fonts as Trebuchet MS, Calibri (Light), and Arial Narrow take up less space than other standard resume fonts.
What margins should I set on a resume?
Another way to make your resume shorter is to experiment with the spacing of your document. Don't be afraid to decrease the margins down to 0.5 of an inch. We wouldn't recommend going any further - it will inevitably damage the overall formatting of the resume. Additionally, you could reduce the spacing between the sections by 1 point. By making such adjustments, you should still have enough of white space on your resume. If after experimenting with spacing and margins you have any doubts regarding the readability of the document, don't hesitate to give it to one of your friends or relatives. Most likely they will be able to tell you if it is easy to navigate through the document and find your selling points.
Should you include a references page for resume?
If a job listing doesn't mention references, the best policy is not to list them at all. Also, don't send any separate references files if you are not asked to do so. It was a common practice to include references 30 years ago but we are talking 2019 here. Therefore, follow the job posting instructions in regard to a reference page for resume. If it says nothing about it so should you.
What's the best cover letter length?
Although a cover letter is a different application document, it is often sent along with a resume. Therefore, its length is as important as the length of your main marketing document. In fact, it is a common practice for HRs to look through a cover letter before deciding whether it is worth spending time on reviewing a resume. In most cases, you don't need to go over a half or two-thirds of a page. Make sure you tell a story in your cover letter and don't simply copy-paste content from your resume. You can check our guide on writing an effective cover letter.
How Long Should a Summary Be?
It is crucially important how you write your summary section. This is usually the first section Hiring Managers come across when skimming through a resume and, ultimately, this is the section where they often quit reading. The optimal length for this section is 4-6 sentences. Less than that may not be enough and more than that can be too much. If you have any questions on how to choose an optimal length for your resume, give us a shot in the comments section below. We would also be happy if you could share your feedback on the article or how you tackled the issue of resume length.