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How Long Should a Resume Be?

According to a recent survey, it has been observed that recruiters spend only an average of 3.14 minutes on a candidate's resume. It was further noticed that they already make up their mind about the candidate within the first minute. One in five recruiters usually rejects a candidate before they finish reading their entire resume. These statistics prove that a resume’s length can make or break an opportunity for you!

So, before you start worrying about what FAANG interview trends you will be asked or which Google interview questions you should be looking up, you might want to give your resume a thought.

In this article, we’ll understand the ideal length for a resume.

Here's what this article will cover:

  1. Why Resume Length Matters?
  2. How Long Should Your Resume Be?
  3. Should Resumes Be One Page?
  4. The More Concise the Better
  5. Content over Length
  6. Rules for The Right Resume Length
  7. When Can You Keep A Two Or More Page Resume?
  8. How Long Can A Resume Be For A College Graduate?
  9. Resume length perfected steps
  10. How to Shorten Your Resume?
  11. Final Thoughts

So How long should my resume really be?

Or better yet, how many pages should my resume contain?

If you are a college graduate looking for your first job or someone wondering why your resume keeps getting rejected despite your great experience, you have arrived at the right place. We have designed the perfect resume length guide for you.

Here, we will clarify some common confusions regarding a resume. We will also help you with some resume tips to design the best resume that efficiently highlights your skills. So let’s get started!

Why Resume Length Matters?

The length of your resume speaks a lot more than you imagine. To highlight your best achievements in the most concise manner is extremely important. You may have an experience of 10+ years, but to showcase that in a few words and keep the resume length short may be difficult.

Lengthy resumes are hard for recruiters to read, especially when they have a pile that needs to be checked. Thus, to ensure that your resume stands out, serious thought needs to be given in deciding its exact length.

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

Every day at the workplace is a learning lesson and adds to your achievements. So, when you revisit your past career, you might notice many things that stand out. However, it is practically impossible to mention all that in your resume.

Keeping the resume brief carries a risk of you selling yourself too short. On the other hand, a really long resume would mean pushing a pile of information on the reader.

So, ideally, how many pages should a resume be?

To strike the right balance when it comes to your resume’s length is the key. The length of your resume should be perfectly balanced to showcase your career highlights, experiences, and achievements as well as to ensure that it’s not too long for a recruiter to lose interest.

Should Resumes Be One Page?

To keep your resume restricted to a single page should not be a stringent rule. Keeping the resume concise is more important than the exact number of pages.

A one-page resume makes sense if you are a student or a professional with less than 10 years of experience. At such a stage in your career, you should highlight your achievements and skills, keeping the length limited to a single page.

Building a 2+ page resume would mean that you are putting out information that the recruiter probably wouldn’t be interested in. This may cause him to give up on you and you would lose a possibly great opportunity.

Additional Reading: Check out this comprehensive guide on researching a company before an interview

The More Concise The Better

Most recruiters have to go through a pile of applications and usually spend just a few seconds on each resume. It is thus important for your resume to be concise and relevant.

Communicating exactly what the recruiter is looking for should be a priority. You can follow the following ways to make sure your resume remains concise:

a) Avoid using filler words and keep the sentences simple to understand.

b) Remove experiences that may be insignificant to the position you are applying for.

c) Include only your career highlights in a quantified form to deliver the most impact. Quantifying your achievements also makes it easier for the recruiter to get a clearer idea about you.

d) Study the job description and tailor your resume accordingly to ensure the recruiter gets exactly what they are looking for.

Content Over Length

An important point to remember is that what the recruiter derives from your resume is more consequential than how much you claim to have achieved. Often, candidates try to fit in irrelevant information just to make the resume longer. Do not get stuck in this common belief that a long resume will land you an interview.

Words are powerful, and how you present your resume matters more. A one-page resume if written correctly, can speak volumes more than a 3-page resume. You may write a long resume only for it to be thrown in a pile of rejected ones because it just seemed irrelevant for the recruiter.

Rules For The Right Resume Length

This section will try to explore some of the fundamental rules that you can follow while writing your resume.

1) Use bullet points to describe roles

While you may have learnt a million new things through your past role, it is important to describe the role within 3 to 7 bullet points. Keep these points as diverse as possible from each other, thus highlighting the different things you learnt or the different skills you applied to make things happen.

You may take the liberty to extend a few bullet points in your most recent role since it is usually the best reflection of your work. However, too many bullet points might make things repetitive and hard for the recruiter to go through.

2) Focus on targeting your content

Whenever you apply for a job, make sure you understand the role clearly. Recruiters are looking for resumes that align with the job requirements. Hence, it is important for you to tailor your resume according to what the recruiter expects.

You can do this by picking up keywords from the job description and using them in your resume. For example, if a job description asks specifically for a candidate who has experience working with cross-functional teams, make sure you use the keyword ‘cross-functional team’ while describing your teamwork in your previous role.

This makes your content targeted and powerful for the recruiter. It will also offer better clarity and help your resume stand out.

3) Two lines per bullet are enough

We have explored how keeping your resume concise is important for you to make it stand out. To enable this, one of the things you can do is to restrict information in each bullet to two lines.

This increases the readability of your resume. It becomes easier for a recruiter to understand your role and your achievements quickly. It also helps make your resume engaging and the chance that a recruiter will go through it in its entirety.

4) Only list job experiences spanning the last 15 years

Candidates often make the mistake of noting down experiences that are older than the last 15 years. The reality is that your roles and experiences from 15 years ago are very likely irrelevant now. This is usually because the market, technology and the way we work changes over time.

Therefore, make sure you note only the relevant experiences to the role you are applying for. Enlisting really old experiences and roles can distract the recruiter from the things that truly matter.

5) Use margins accordingly

Margins play a significant role in defining the design of your resume. A clean formatted resume will always stand out in a pile of applications. Correct use of margins can help you distribute your content evenly across the page. This makes your application visually appealing.

If your resume has less text, a larger margin of 1 inch can work best for you. However, if your resume seems packed with text, you can shorten the margin to 0.5 inches to make it look more presentable. You can experiment by adjusting the margins to know what looks best for your resume application.

When Can You Keep A Two Or More Page Resume?

It is a common misconception that highly experienced candidates usually have a lengthier resume. While experienced candidates have a lot more to show from their overall experience than a recent college graduate, the level of experience has nothing to do with a resumes' size.

Building a 2-page resume to highlight your skillset, achievements and learnings is completely acceptable. However, it is important to showcase only relevant information. A 2-page resume filled with sections like hobbies, favorite quotes, or life mottos is a waste of time for the recruiter. Instead, focus on quantized, factual details of your previous roles and how you helped your previous organization.

How Long Can A Resume Be For A College Graduate?

This is a commonly asked question by college graduates when they are first introduced to the corporate world. Since freshers do not have any past experience, it can be challenging for them to understand how to structure their resume content.

To answer this question, it is essential first to understand what recruiters are looking for in fresh graduates. Recruiters aim to hire students who have not just performed well in academics but have shown excellence in other activities that add to their overall personality.

A one-page resume that highlights your college-level achievements like workshops, certifications, event organizing skills, group activities, and hackathons can definitely make your resume remarkable.

Resume length perfected steps

1) Make it an easy read

An engaging resume can make sure you grab that interview opportunity. To make that happen, it is crucial to build a free-flowing, easy to understand resume. Often, candidates use long and complex sentences to describe things that can be said in a concise manner. This breaks the flow and makes it redundant and monotonous to read.

Try to not get stuck on the same point by over-explaining it. Keep your resume crisp and moving so that recruiters get a clear idea of your achievements easily.

2) Stay Relevant

As we explored earlier, making your resume look as relevant as possible to the job description is important. Recruiters will instantly reject applications that attempt to highlight unnecessary details just to increase the resume length.

Read the job applications thoroughly and pick relevant keywords and make them a part of your resume. Try to highlight your achievements so that you showcase the skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

3) Avoid Redundant Information

Often, in their bid to present a long and attractive resume, candidates make the mistake of repeating their achievements throughout their resume, in one manner or another. This only serves to distract the recruiter and pushes them towards other applications.

Keep your highlights short and precise and avoid unnecessary repetition. A short resume with relevant details may be all you need. A repetitive one could kill your chances of landing an interview.

4) Use Font, Spaces and Margins But Don’t Overdo It

Design is definitely an important aspect of building a stand-out resume. You can experiment with fonts and different sizes of margins. Start by researching the most used resume fonts. Explore design templates online to get a better idea of how you can create a great layout.

However, it is important to not overboard your resume with design elements. Excess use of spacing and margins with varied fonts can degrade your resume visually.

How To Shorten Your Resume?

The key is to include relevant details on your resume concisely. If you have compiled your resume and feel like its length is longer than you are comfortable with, here are a few tips to check if you can shorten it:

a) Check for any repetitive information or unnecessary filler words and remove them. Try to keep sentences short.

b) Go over the job descriptions and ensure you've highlighted the right keywords. Align your resume with what's expected.

c) Remove highlights that have nothing to do with the role you are applying, if any. Keep it relevant.

d) Don't go in depth about your job descriptions. A minimum of 3 to 7 points are enough to get your message across.  

e) If you find that the description under your bullet points exceeds 2 sentences, shorten it.

f) Include quantized data as often as possible instead of descriptive explanations. This will not just make your resume look more presentable but also maintain fluidity.

Final Thoughts

It goes without saying that your resume length is rather significant in setting your application apart from the numerous others out there. We hope this article helped you with tips on how to manage the length of your resume. Whether you are a graduate hoping to start out or an experienced corporate hoping to land a better job, a great resume will bring you closer to your goal. So, invest time in figuring out how long should your CV be. Then, jot down your most remarkable career highlights and achievements, and ready a clean, crisp, and concise resume for yourself!

Some additional resources to help you with your interview prep:

a) Understand what are problem solving skills and why they're important.

b) Looking to pick the ideal career? Learn how to find the best job for yourself

c) Want to climb the corporate ladder? Here's how you can accelerate your journey of becoming a manager

Last updated on: 
October 27, 2023

Ashwin Ramachandran

Head of Engineering @ Interview Kickstart. Enjoys cutting through the noise and finding patterns.

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