The question of how long a resume should be has been a subject of debate among professionals for a many years, but the fact is that relevance and substance are the keys to determining the proper length of any resume. Additionally, your years of experience, key achievements, number of employers, audience, industry, and career goals should be factored into the decision as well.
Helping You Decide
If you are a recent college graduate, changing careers, have less than 10 years of work experience, or have held multiple roles with the same employer, a one-page resume is generally sufficient to showcase your skills, qualifications, and achievements.
However, bear in mind that you do not want to miss out on an opportunity by omitting important relevant details for the sake of keeping the resume limited to a certain number of pages.
To help streamline your resume, let’s say you are a project manager with an extensive project portfolio. If you’d like to include more career highlights in your resume than one page allows for, try adding an addendum. The addendum is not specifically a part of your resume – more a supplement that organizations can look over once your resume has enticed them to learn more about you.
It is important to note that there is no blanket rule that works for everyone. The idea here is to allow relevance and substance to primarily drive your decision regarding the length of your resume.
What to Cut and What to Include
Recruiters are looking for position fit, relevance, and brevity. Your professional resume is a marketing tool, not a biography.
Carefully consider your quantifiable scope of achievements, interpersonal skills, abilities, endorsements, awards, certifications, and education in an effort to use your resume real estate wisely. When possible, highlight instances where you saved money, improved processes, or led a team to achieve a key milestone within your opening statements and within different positions to show how your competencies align with your target companies and/or roles.
Use LinkedIn as Extra Space
Regardless of your career stage, LinkedIn can be a great place to showcase internships, projects, recommendations from colleagues or clients, community involvement, hobbies, interests, coursework, and publications – while also including an extended skills profile.
Web portfolios or personal websites are also additional avenues to further communicate your brand, personality, causes you are passionate about, and interests.
Focus on Relevancy
Keeping in mind the 10-second human scan, tailor your professionally written resume for each position and utilize a compelling qualifications summary or headline stated in roughly 3-4 sentences to help strengthen your connection with the human reviewer.
Considering the resume is a marketing tool, information should be presented in a focused, clear, attention-grabbing, and easy-to-read layout. I often recommend keeping a master version of your resume that houses many of your career milestones, jobs, education/training details, and accomplishments. Update the master resume as your leadership career advances, you change jobs, you get promoted, or you expand the scope of your responsibilities. Then, as you apply for jobs, this will allow you to plug and play relevant information as needed for each targeted position. Avoid being too wordy on the resume, as some of the job details can be discussed during an interview.
Build out your professional experience section with possibly 3-5 succinctly written, keyword-rich bullets per job to showcase your accomplishments, as opposed to simply articulating your duties and responsibilities. (Note: In some cases, it may be necessary to extend the bullets beyond 3-5, depending on the amount of relevant information you have to share.)
Try describing job details in two-line bullets for each position. This helps to keep your writing concise and offers great skimmability for the human reviewer.
Utilize white space appropriately – i.e., the final page of your resume should extend to at least half of the page. If it doesn’t try to scale back so that your resume fits without bleeding over. Keep relevancy in mind when making cuts, and think about what kind of information you could better showcase elsewhere, like on LinkedIn.
Many companies use keyword searches to find and sort resumes, so you should balance your soft skills with industry-specific keywords to align yourself with the position’s requirements. The key takeaway here is to avoid writing a general resume that details every skill, responsibility, and training course, you’ve ever had or engaged in. Increasing your marketability includes writing a high-impact professional resume deeply rooted in compelling content that succinctly conveys your qualifications for a given, targeted role.