Resume Length: The Shorter, The Better

As an eager and experienced job candidate, it only makes sense that you’d want to convey as much relevant information about your work history, skills, and qualifications to your prospective employer.  What better place to share all of this valuable insight into all of the plusses your candidacy brings to the table, than in your professional resume.  Before you go and type up a 20-page mini-novella in an attempt to win the job offer, however, there are a few words of wisdom we need to pass along regarding resume length.

General Guidelines

The general and accepted rule of thumb when it comes to professional resumes is to keep things simple, clean and one page or under in length.  That’s right, your entire relevant job experience needs to be condensed down onto one side of a single sheet of paper in order to be in line with common industry standards.

This isn’t just a case of “we told you so” or some arbitrary attempt to save a few trees, either.  As it turns out, there’s solid logic and science behind the short and sweet approach to your CV.  Most hiring managers are professional, busy individuals with their own set of job duties that need to be accomplished daily on top of conducting the hunt for their newest employee or team member.  Long resumes can cause busy readers to lose interest, potentially missing valuable information that’s buried somewhere past the first page.  A single page resume doesn’t come off as all that daunting and is typically short enough to allow an interviewer to thoroughly study up on the potential candidate.

The Forest for the Trees

In addition to length, interest and available time, longer resumes often have a way of burying the candidate’s most critical information.  A strong, well-crafted resume leads with the most impactful information that helps sell an applicant to the employer.  Loading up a resume with details, wordiness and irrelevant facts makes these critical elements and qualifications difficult to spot through the myriad of pages which, in turn, lessens your chance of that all-important call-back.

Exceptions to the Rule

Like all good rules, the whole “one-page and one page only” stricture is made to be broken.  We’re not talking about adding length for length’s sake or throwing in a dissertation about your fabulous horticultural hobbies.  In some cases, however, experienced and qualified candidates may need to include a little bit of extra substance in order to show off their full potential.

Highly qualified candidates at the executive or director level will often have a lengthy job history, all of which would be relevant to a prospective employer.  In general, the higher the level of position the more in the way of work history and experience you’ll need to include on your resume.  These advanced positions may also require additional narrative, bullet points with career milestones or other details that can lengthen a resume beyond the standard page.

Similarly, if you’re applying for a highly technical job or a position that requires advanced certifications or skills, you may end up tipping the scales to two or more pages of resume length.  Positions in the academic or scientific setting may also fit this category.

It’s important to remember that these scenarios that call for extra length are, indeed, the exception.  When in doubt, ask a trusted friend or professional colleague to weigh in on areas where you may need to trim content or adjust format.  Remember that your resume isn’t a sub sandwich, movie, or other scenarios where bigger is better.  Keep things short, sweet and approachable for the best career results.

Article Updated from the Original on October 28, 2017