Resumes & Cover Letters

What is the Right Resume Length?

April 2, 2021

A well-written resume gets the attention of hiring managers, especially if it contains the relevant requirements for a role. However, there are various views on the acceptable length of a resume. In this article, we explain how long your resume should be, who can use multi-page resumes and how to shorten a long resume.

How long should a resume be?

A good resume should ideally be one page for a hiring manager or an employer to review quickly. It must contain relevant information about your work experience and be concise, it is suitable for most job seekers. However, a multi-page resume is also acceptable.

When to use a one-page resume

Resumes that are one-page long are suitable for the following:

  • Entry-level employees: Students, interns and recent graduates typically don't have years of work experience. Therefore, they can keep their resume to one page without leaving out any important details.
  • Professionals with a few years of work experience: If you don't have more than 10 years of experience, you can use a one-page resume when applying for jobs.
  • People who are changing careers: Different careers have different employment requirements. If you are changing roles, you can leave out your previous career's accomplishments, projects or skills if they are not relevant, and make your resume a single page. However, include any skills from your previous job that is transferable to the role you're applying for.
  • Employees that held a previous role with the same company: Even if you have several years of experience, you can leave them out if you're applying to the same employer. In this case, focus on your achievements during your time with the company and how you can use what you've learned in the position you're applying for.

Read more: How to Write a Resume

When to use a two-page resume

A two-page resume is acceptable for the following:

  • Professionals with at least ten years of work experience: After many years, most people have more projects, skills and achievements to show and need a second page on their resume.
  • Employees with technical skills: If you have technical or engineering skills like database design, statistical analysis, quantitative research, compiling statistics and documentation, you may need an extra page to explain them.

In multi-page resumes, the first page must contain your career summary. Include the most relevant information at the top. You can use the second page to outline your projects, achievements and other relevant work experience that make you the best fit for the role. It must contain your name, contact details and a page number.

To ensure a two-page resume remains brief, you can leave out part-time jobs, temporary positions and other roles that don't relate to your present career.

When to use a three-page resume or longer

Your resume can be three pages or more if you are any of the following:

  • A senior professional or executive with various work and leadership experience or achievements
  • An academic with several publications, licenses, conferences, courses and related projects
  • A government employee with several noteworthy achievements

You can also have addendums in your multi-page resume, but they aren't necessary. You may send those pages with the rest of the resume, or remove it, depending on the requirements of a hiring organization.

How to shorten your resume

Keeping your resume short is a great way to make a good first impression with a hiring manager. Follow these steps to get your resume to the right length:

1. Remove filler words

Recruiters and employers use only a few minutes to go through your resume and decide if you are a suitable candidate. Therefore, you should leave out words that only take up space. Filler words and phrases include “basically,” “actually,” “even,” “be able to,” and “a number of.” To keep sections even more concise for bulleted lists or sections that don't require full sentences, you can also remove "a," "the," "an," "and," or "that."

For example, a sentence can read: “I was even able to assist with the maintenance of a number of V6 engines, which saved the company as much as 26% downtime.” Removing the filler words, the sentence can read: “Assisted with maintaining V6 engines, saving 26% downtime.”

Read more: Words to Avoid and Include on a Resume

2. Try different font types and sizes

If your resume still has several pages after removing filler words, change the font. The font of your resume must be easy to read but not too big that it makes your resume longer. Typically, people use 12-point and standard fonts like Times New Roman and Arial. Keep the size between 10 and 12pt to ensure your resume is easy to read.

Read more: The Best Fonts for Your Resume

3. Reduce your contact details

When applying for a role in a province where you already live, include your city on your resume. Otherwise, you can remove it. Leaving out your address if you live in a different city also eliminates the concerns recruiters may have about your desire to move. If you list both your home and mobile phone numbers, consider removing the one you use least.

Consider removing your references since hiring managers ask for them when necessary. You don't have to state that you'll provide references, but can include a short line with "References available upon request" at the bottom of the page if you prefer.

4. Use bullet points

Bullet points are straightforward and easy to read. Describe each role in three to seven bullet points without removing the most important information. Your recent roles should also have more points than previous jobs.

5. Shorten each bullet point

Typically, each bullet point should be one or two lines at most. This way, a recruiter or employer can read your resume quickly and understand its core content.

6. Combine sections

Your resume should have three to four sections, and it doesn't need a new heading for every experience, project or achievement. Typically, these headings take up space you could have used for more relevant information. Joining sections together frees up this space. Consider creating a section for your education and work experience. Then, put your skills, achievements, qualifications and interests into another section you can name “General information.”

7. Use numbers where possible

Statistics can be a powerful way to convey accurate information about you without taking up space. Therefore, instead of explaining achievements, use numbers to clearly quantify your abilities.

For example, an achievement of a graphics designer could read: "Created several projects for the product development team.” When you rework it to include numbers, it could read: “Created 147 graphics for the product development team, delivering three daily.”

8. Leave out common skills

Include every skill and qualification that you think makes you stand out among other applicants. However, adding common or irrelevant skills is unnecessary and takes up valuable space. For example, if you're a sales assistant, you can list your skills in inventory management. However, adding your proficiency in computer software may not be useful to a hiring manager.

9. Try different line spacing and margins

A good way to shorten your resume is to reduce the page margins. Typically, the margin of a resume is 1, 0.75 or 0.5 inches. Try different options to see which one makes your resume clear and easy to understand. Also consider line spacing. You can try different options, but the best options for ease of reading and space-saving are 1.0 and 1.15.

10. Use keywords

Some organizations use specialized software to review several job applications at once. While setting the software, hiring managers usually include keywords that they expect to see on resumes. Therefore, make sure you include any relevant keywords in short meaningful sentences.

If you're not sure of the resume review process, go through the job posting for more information.

11. Rewrite your resume

Consider rewriting your resume or getting someone to review it if it's still too long. A friend can spot things you missed or assist in rewording some sentences. They can also help you shorten or merge some lines.

For example, you can put your previous company's name and job title on the same line. The same applies to your home address, contact number or email address.

A coach or friend can also help you rewrite your objective statement and make it more concise.

12. Use online builders

Online resume builders can speed up the process. First, write a resume and edit it thoroughly. Next, begin writing a new resume on the online builder. The software should add information that you don't already have. You can combine your original resume with the copy an online builder creates for you.

Read more: Guide to Writing a Professional CV

Figuring out the length of your resume is crucial, especially when applying to an organization that receives several applications. However, determining the right length is not as important as the content of your resume or its readability. Your focus should be to include the most relevant information in short sentences that are easy to understand in your resume.

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