How Long Should Your Resume Be?

How Long Should Your Resume Be? was originally published on Vault.

Your resume is the most important tool you have in your job-seeking arsenal. It gives potential employers a detailed look at your education, work history, skills, and achievements. In certain cases, your resume might also include additional information about any relevant hobbies and interests, or professional affiliations. A solid resume will greatly increase your chances at landing a job, but what happens if your resume is too long? Today we’re going to talk about the length of your resume, as well as some tips to help you keep it clear and concise. Let’s get started.

Typically, a resume should be about one page long. This is especially true if you’re a student looking for an internship, a new graduate or first-time job seeker, or a professional with less than ten years of experience. It’s important to remember that a hiring manager will often have to review many resumes in a short period of time, which means they’ll scan each resume quickly, looking for key words and phrases, or things that stand out. In fact, most hiring mangers won’t glance at a resume for much longer than ten seconds, and that’s being generous. If your resume is multiple pages or takes too long to get into the important details, it’s very likely that you won’t be considered for the position.

Most resumes use bullet points to describe any tasks or accomplishments associated with previous and current jobs. In order for your resume to be an acceptable length, use between 3 and 7 bullet points for each entry. Let’s say you’re a recent graduate and you’ve got one internship and no work experience. In this case, use 7 bullet points and include each and every task and accomplishment you can think of.

On the other hand, if you have several previous employers you might want to prioritize only the most important tasks and best accomplishments per entry. For example, your most recent job might have 5 bullet points, while your first job (the last one on your resume) might have 3. If your early work history is less relevant to the position you’re applying for, you can either keep it very brief, or omit it all together in order to achieve a good resume length.

Take some time to review each bullet point and refine them to include quantifiable information whenever possible. In other words, if one of your accomplishments led to an increase in sales, that’s an excellent bullet point to include. The more quantifiable examples you have the better off you’ll be, and when you start thinking of your resume this way, you’ll be able to eliminate less important or otherwise irrelevant bullet points.

Another thing to consider when trimming down your resume is the length of each bullet point. A good rule of thumb is that each bullet point should be around two lines maximum. It’s best to avoid unnecessary words and phrases such as “responsible for” or “managed,” as they’re either implied or somewhat on the weak side. For example, instead of saying you managed something, say you directed it. Remember, the hiring manager will only be scanning your resume for things that jump out at them, so having well-written, concise bullet points is incredibly important.

If you’ve looked at a lot of job descriptions you might have noticed that most of them require candidates to possess around 3 to 5 years of experience, unless it’s a role in upper management. If you’ve got a lot of experience, you can easily omit any entries that are more than 10 to 15 years old. For most jobs, a work history of 10 years is more than enough to demonstrate the skills and experience necessary for the position.

There are certain scenarios where a two-page resume is acceptable. One is if you’re a high-level candidate with many years of relevant experience and even then, having more than one page might be a turn off for some potential employers. An engineering resume is typically longer than one page because candidates often include a special section that provides great detail about their previous projects. If you’re absolutely unable to trim your resume down to one page, you might get away with a longer resume if it contains a lot of relevant, well-written, quantifiable information.

With everything being said, your resume shouldn’t be more than one page in almost every scenario. It might take a little experimentation, but you should seek to include only tasks and accomplishments that are relevant to the job description, while omitting any unnecessary information and old or otherwise irrelevant job experience. It’s worth putting a lot of effort into your resume, always taking the time to tailor it to each job you apply for. A strong, concise resume is sure to grab the hiring manager’s attention.