Concisely summarizing your experience and skills can be a tall task for professionals with extensive work histories. On the other hand, entry-level professionals with little experience often have trouble effectively demonstrating their value and expanding their resumes.

As a general rule of thumb, your resume shouldn’t be more than one to two pages long. Hiring managers and recruiters often have to sift through hundreds of resumes, meaning it is important for job seekers to make it easy for them to find the information they’re looking for.

To help you prepare your resume for your job search, here’s what you need to know about how long a resume should be.

The Ideal Length for Your Resume

When crafting a resume, one of the most common questions job seekers have is: How long should my resume be? One to two pages is ideal.

The length of your resume plays a crucial role in capturing hiring managers’ attention and effectively showcasing your qualifications.

An eye-tracking study by Ladders, a prominent career resource platform, found that hiring managers spend an average of 7.4 seconds reviewing each resume on their desks. This means that to maximize your chances of making it past the initial screening process, you need to make it possible for hiring managers to get a good idea of your experience, qualifications, and skills in just under eight seconds.

While your first reaction might be that this is unfair to the applicants, you must remember that employers often receive upwards of 50 applications for each role, making it impossible for them to spend significant time reviewing each resume. For this reason, resumes should never be more than one to two pages long.

How Inexperienced Workers Can Expand Their Resume

You may be concerned about filling your resume adequately if you’re an inexperienced worker or a recent graduate with limited professional experience.

While your resume shouldn’t be longer than one page, it shouldn’t be too short. If your resume is only half a page or less, hiring managers may think you’re too inexperienced for the role.

However, there are several strategies you can use to expand your resume and make it stand out despite your lack of professional experience:

Strategies for Inexperienced Workers

  1. Emphasize education: Since you may not have an extensive work history, highlight your educational background. Include relevant coursework, academic achievements, and extracurricular activities that demonstrate skills applicable to the desired role.
  2. Showcase internships and part-time jobs: Even if you have minimal work experience, internships, part-time jobs, and even hobbies that are relevant to the position can provide valuable insights into your abilities and work ethic. Describe the responsibilities and achievements gained from these experiences to showcase your transferable skills.
  3. Include relevant coursework and projects: If your coursework or projects align closely with the job requirements, consider including them in a dedicated section on your resume. This can demonstrate your knowledge and practical application of skills in a particular field.
  4. Highlight transferable skills: Identify skills that are relevant to the job you’re applying for, even if you gained them outside of traditional work settings. Transferable skills such as leadership, teamwork, communication, problem-solving, and time management can make a significant impact on your resume.
  5. Volunteer and extracurricular activities: Participation in community service, clubs, or organizations can illustrate your dedication, initiative, and ability to work with others. Include relevant volunteer experiences or leadership roles to enhance your resume.

Remember, while it’s essential to expand your resume, avoid including irrelevant or excessive information. Focus on quality over quantity and ensure that every piece of information you include adds value to your application.

How Highly Experienced Workers Can Condense Their Resume

For experienced professionals, condensing a lengthy work history into a concise and compelling two-page resume can be a challenge. Fitting everything you want to say about your professional experience and qualifications can be difficult when you have 10+ years of experience.

Here are some tips to help you condense your resume effectively:

Tips for Condensing a Resume

  • Stay on point: As an experienced worker, focus on including information that directly relates to the job you’re applying for. Tailor your resume to highlight your most recent and relevant roles, skills, and accomplishments. Avoid including outdated or insignificant experiences that might dilute the impact of your resume.
  • Use a reverse chronological format: When structuring your resume, use a reverse chronological format, listing your most recent positions first. This format enables hiring managers to quickly grasp your career progression and easily identify your recent accomplishments.
  • Summarize early career experience: If you have an extensive work history, briefly summarize your early career experience without going into excessive detail. Instead of listing every job you’ve held, provide a concise overview that captures the key roles, responsibilities, and achievements from that period.
  • Focus on achievements and impact: Instead of listing job responsibilities, emphasize your accomplishments and the value you brought to previous employers. Quantify your achievements with specific metrics or percentages where possible. This approach allows you to convey the impact you’ve made throughout your career concisely.
  • Consolidate repetitive roles: If you’ve held similar roles or worked for the same company in different capacities, consolidate them under a single entry. Indicate the various positions held and the respective dates within that entry. This strategy helps avoid unnecessary repetition and saves valuable space on your resume.

Remember to keep your resume visually appealing and easy to read. Use concise bullet points, appropriate headings, and professional font size and style. Also, avoid overcrowding your resume with excessive text or information.

The ideal length for a resume depends on your experience level and the relevance of the information you present. Whether you’re an inexperienced worker or a highly experienced professional, the key is to strike the right balance between providing enough detail to showcase your qualifications and keeping the resume concise to capture the attention of hiring managers within their limited review time.

Andrew Stoner

Executive Resume Writer and Career Coach

Andrew Stoner is an executive career coach and resume writer with 17 years of experience as a hiring manager and operations leader at two Fortune 500 Financial Services companies, and as the career services director at two major university business schools.

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