January 8, 2013

How Long Should your Resume Be?

woman-behind-stack-of-papersRemember when you first started applying for work all those years ago? There is a very good chance that someone, somewhere told you that in order for your resume to get past the initial screening process, you would need to make sure that it was one page and one page only.

Of course, as the years go by and you find yourself winning awards and adding to your volunteer and work experience, it has probably become much more difficult to sell yourself using just that one page. But what about the age-old advice?  Doesn’t that ring true anymore?

Truth be told, it does not and the prevalence of one-paged resumes is lessening. You will still see candidates who have one page, but they are, for the most part, college graduates or those who have very little experience. If you’ve been around the block (and we are talking more than a few years of experience) then it is perfectly acceptable to have your resume move into the big leagues and use two pages.

With a fresh start of just eight days into the new year, many people are still seeking employment; so, fine-tuning your resume for 2013 may not be a bad thing.

One important piece of advice is that if your resume is two pages and you’re sending in a paper copy, avoid making that copy two sided because, chances are, whoever is reading it won’t think to flip the page over. It seems like common sense, but you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t regularly look at the backs of pages. I’m guilty of doing this too.

Perspectives differ on including references in the second or final page of a resume. Including “references available upon request” at the bottom of a resume is a waste of space; if you are applying for a position recruiters will rightfully assume you already have a reference. An editor I know once said HR managers are going to ask for references anyway, so why not just give the names to them?

If your resume is longer than three pages (which it should definitely not be, unless you have 20+ years of experience) then there are a few ways that you can whittle it down to two pages.

If your “career objective” still heads up your resume, it needs to be removed immediately.  Why? Well, if you’re applying for a job at a healthcare organization, isn’t your objective to secure a position as (insert the position you are applying for here) in healthcare?  It is redundant and in some cases, it can hurt you.

Point in case, I sent out a job posting for a Personal Support Worker and received a resume with an objective that said “Looking to secure a position in retail as a customer service agent.” Well, what are you doing applying for a job working as a health care aide? If you do have a career objective listed, make sure it is accurate and up-to-date.

Other great ways to reduce clutter is to keep your skills list to just the essentials and get rid of any experience that isn’t relevant or that is more than two decades old.

From an experience standpoint, I’ll tell you that people who have pages long—we’re talking anywhere between three and five pages—applying for even a senior or executive level position rarely get hired. It’s overkill, plain and simple.

So as a good rule of thumb, unless you have decades of work experience or extremely specific technical expertise that you need to include, keep your resume between 1-3 pages.

Read more in Resume Format

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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