4 Scenarios for Determining the Length of Your Resume

By Joy Belus on December 3, 2015 in Job Seeker Tips, Resume Writing Tips & Tricks
Writing, List, Checklist.

Writing, List, Checklist.

It seems as though people have been asking, “How long should my resume be?” since time immemorial. It also seems as though there has never been a definitive answer.

The reason is that there is NOT a definitive answer, at least not a “blanket answer” that applies to ALL job seekers. The fact is that the length of your resume is determined by who you are, specifically in regards to how long you’ve been in the job market and the positions for which you’re applying.

This can be illustrated through the use of four different scenarios, one of which more than likely pertains to your current situation:

Scenario #1—You’re a new graduate or have less than five years of experience.

If you’re a college graduate or entry-level job seeker, then one page is definitely the rule for this scenario. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since you probably have not accumulated enough experience to fill more than one page. There is, however, a caveat to this rule: if you’ve accumulated a ton of volunteer and extracurricular experience AND it pertains to the job for which you’re applying, then a two-page resume would be acceptable. (It might even stand out.)

Scenario #2—You have five years or more of experience in your chosen field.

It’s at this point that you can start expanding your resume to two pages, especially if you work in a technical field and you need to list your knowledge of specific programs and/or systems. It should go without saying, though, that the most important information is listed first. Don’t bury the “sizzle” that could get you hired on the second page.

Scenario #3—You’re an upper-level executive.

This is where we start getting into “three page” territory. You must keep in mind that as you climb up the career ladder and start applying for more prestigious jobs, hiring managers are going to take more time studying resumes. They’re more likely to make an investment of time in a resume that’s three pages long. From their perspective, if they ultimately make the correct hire, that investment is absolutely worth it.

Scenario #4—You’re an upper-level executive with considerable experience and numerous accomplishments.

These days, if you have the skills and experience of a superstar performer, the accepted standard is a one to two-page resume with complementary pages. These pages support the claims made in the resume regarding training, education, skills acquisition, and even awards won and/or honors received. These supplemental pages can take the form of charts, graphs, or other graphics-driven representations.

So what does all of this mean?

When boiled down, it means that if the third and fourth scenarios do not apply to you, a one or two-page resume will suffice. However, if you opt for two pages, make sure that all of the information is pertinent, relevant, and applicable to the position for which you’re applying.

That’s sound advice regardless of your resume’s length.

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