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  3. How long should a resume be? Check out our guidance from resume specialists
How long should a resume be? Check out our guidance from resume specialists

How long should a resume be? Check out our guidance from resume specialists

  • How long should a resume be?
  • Is a one-page resume considered outdated?
  • How far back should your resume go?
  • When can your resume be longer than two pages?
  • How much is too much on a resume?
  • How to format your resume so that it is the correct length
  • Key takeaways

Determining how long a resume should be depends on several factors. Most importantly, it should always put you in the best possible light. We’ll give you the insight you need to make sure your resume is the right length, no matter your experience level.

The whole point of a resume is to introduce yourself to a hiring manager or recruiter and give them a good idea of your background and skill set. And while career experts don’t agree on everything, they tend to see eye-to-eye about resume length—it should be a synopsis of your career story, not an epic tome. Ensure that you have the “Goldilocks” of resumes: not too short and not too long. Determining how long your resume should be can be done with a bit of care and a lot of editing so that it catches a recruiter’s eye and encourages them to keep reading.

In this article, we’ll discuss:

  • How long should your resume be?

  • Is a one-page resume outdated?

  • How far back should a resume go for work history?

  • When can your resume be longer?

  • How much is too much on a resume?

  • How to format your resume so that it is the correct length

How long should a resume be?

With the length of your resume, it’s best to err on the side of brevity. While the content of your resume is the most important factor (remember to always target your resume for each job you’re applying for), you don’t want a recruiter slogging through your entire work history to see if you’re a good fit for a job. They’re busy, so most simply won’t bother and place you in the “TL;DR” (too long; didn’t read) pile.

The first question to determine how long your resume should be is: “How long have you been in the workforce?”. If you have less than 10 years of experience one page should suffice. If you have more experience than that, you can bump that page count to two. Even if you have 25+ years under your belt, however, two pages should suffice. This will be enough for you to provide a "highlight reel" of your experience and accomplishments while remaining in the recruiter’s “scannable zone.” For most job seekers, the more concise, the better. If you need help creating a great resume, check out Career.io's resume Builder tool, which will provide expert-crafted resume templates to make sure your resume has all the information you need in the right number of pages.

Is a one-page resume considered outdated?

No. While some experts say your resume should be as long as it needs to be to provide a comprehensive picture of your skills, experience, and accomplishments, most recruiters are fine with one or two pages, depending on how much job history you have. Remember, you don’t need every single career experience on your resume. If you’re entry-level, anything more than one page would just be filler or “fluff,” and two pages should be just fine for those with more years of work history. 

Expert Tip

With some exceptions, keep your resume to no more than two pages. According to Gina Riley, a career advisor, and professional resume writer, "The purpose of the resume is to communicate one's unique value proposition and key results, open doors and start conversations…the extensive length of the resume would be a red flag that indicates the person will be too verbose in the interview process and incapable of succinctly telling their story."

How far back should your resume go?

In general, your resume should only go back 10-15 years. This will give a hiring manager an overview of your more recent, relevant accomplishments, even on a two-page resume. Additionally, it will help you avoid age discrimination, which is illegal but still happens, unfortunately. Any work history over 15 years old should only be included in your resume if it is relevant to the job you’re applying for, and should be included in a separate section called “Additional Experience.” The goal of the resume is to get you an interview, not the job, so the work you did 20 years ago may not be of interest to the recruiter.

When can your resume be longer than two pages?

While the two-page resume is fine for most experienced applicants, there are a few instances where your resume can (and should) be longer. You might consider more than two pages for your resume if you work in the following areas:

  • The federal government, which often requires a detailed work history.

  • You’re seeking a job in academia or the sciences, which often calls for information about your publications and research.

  • If you’re applying for a project or tech management position and need to provide evidence of past projects, technical proficiency, or case studies.

  • If you're being considered for a senior executive position and have a long history of leadership, significant achievements, and financial growth.

Expert Tip

Should a two-page resume be printed on the front and back?

Unless the job description specifically asks for it, avoid printing your resume on both sides. It’s hard for the recruiter to read and get an overview of your qualifications at a glance. If you need to have a hard copy of your resume with you (for example, at an interview or job fair), it’s best to have it printed on two pages and paper clipped together.

How much is too much on a resume?

Unless you fall into one of the above categories, if your resume is more than two pages, you'll need to trim it. You don't need to list every single job you've ever held, including working part-time at the local ice cream parlor. You need to be selective, and keep your highlights relevant to the position(s) you’re applying for. The last thing a recruiter wants to see on your resume is a wall of text, so make sure you keep it concise and utilize the white space to make it easier to read.

You'll also want to be choosy about the skills you list on your resume and eliminate any that aren't relevant to the job you're applying for. For example, you don't have to list things like "Microsoft Word," or "email." In 2024, a hiring manager is going to assume that you are proficient in these common programs. Keep your number of listed skills to six or fewer, tailoring them to the job description.

  • Stick to easy-to-read fonts like Times New Roman or Helvetica.
  • Keep your paragraphs short and limit yourself to three to four bullet points per job entry. Remember, white space is your friend.
  • Use numerals like “4” or “23” instead of spelling them out. This will save you some space and is easier to read.
  • Use a small font size to squeeze in more information. Size 11 or 12 should be the largest you should use.
  • Use long, dense paragraphs in your job description.
  • Include the phrase “references available upon request.” It takes up valuable space and really isn’t helpful.

How to format your resume so that it is the correct length

While you can use a template to help you get your resume to the right length, if you’re determined to format it yourself, there are a few things you can do before you start formatting to make things easier. 

  • Make sure your bullet points are no longer than three sentences.

  • Eliminate work history that is more than 10-15 years old.

  • Remove irrelevant volunteer experience or hobbies.

  • Get rid of redundant bullet points.

  • Don't list soft skills you can't back up with real-world examples.

Once you’ve eliminated any extraneous information, you can start formatting. Regardless of whether you’re using a functional, hybrid, or reverse-chronological resume format, you’ll want to make sure you use the following guidelines to keep your resume to less than two pages:

  • Use an ATS-friendly font such as Times New Roman, Georgia, or Verdana, with a size of 10-12 points for text and 14-16 points for section headers and contact information.

  • Keep your descriptions concise and relevant. Include keywords from the job description. Eliminate “filler words” like: frequently, quickly, efficiently, or diligently.

  • Don’t list every single job duty you performed. Only include the highlights.

  • Use section headers, which will help recruiters find what they’re looking for on your resume.

  • Use bold, italics, and underlining judiciously. While it helps to break up your text and makes it easier to read, you don’t want to go overboard.

  • Make sure your margins are set at one inch all around.

  • Apply 1.0 or 1.15 line spacing between lines of text and put in double lines after headers and subheaders.

  • Keep your formatting consistent throughout your resume. 

The bottom line is that the content of your resume is much more important than the length (just don’t go overboard!). If your work history fits easily into one page, great! Don’t feel like you have to pad it to reach two pages. The important thing is that your resume shows off your qualifications and skills in a way that is visually pleasing and easy to understand, regardless of length.

If you need a little resume inspiration, Career.io has a library of eye-catching resume examples and writing guides in a variety of industries to help you create a resume that gets you noticed.

Key takeaways

  1. The length of your resume depends on how much experience you have. Less than 10 years of experience calls for a one-page resume, but if you have a lot of experience, it can be up to two pages.

  2. In general, your resume should only go back 10-15 years. Anything older than that can go in a separate section titled “Additional Experience.”

  3. Your resume can be longer than two pages if you work in science, academia, or the government.

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