May 3, 2011

One Page, Two Pages or More?

It's one of the most common questions I am asked when it comes to resumes: How long should a resume be? Is one page still "in"? Are two-pagers more effective? Does it matter? And then there is always the question: Is it really a no-no to make my resume more than two pages?

I am going to attempt to answer this question here once and for all. Are you ready for the answer? Here it is: It depends. There, I will now end my shortest article ever, akin to a Twitter tweet.

Just joking - I'll explain what I mean here briefly and elaborate on some details. A good rule of thumb when it comes to resumes is this: There are no hard and fast rules. By this I mean that a resume should reflect you effectively, accurately and powerfully - and how can something set in stone with hard and fast rules give you justice? My point exactly.

Okay - I know you are dying for some rules (or else why would you be reading this?). So here goes. Student or entry level job seekers (someone just entering the professional job market or with 3 or less years of experience within that market), as a rule, should keep their resume to one page. The reason for this is because those with little work experience won't have a need (in most cases) for two pages to contain their experiences. Here's another hard and fast rule: Resumes should never include "fluff." Focus on your top talents, skills and training within an entry level resume, and that should usually stay within the bounds of one page easily. There may be exceptions, like I said, such as doctorate resumes within the medical or academic fields. But as a rule, when an entry, keep it on one.

Now, let's briefly consider the "over two pages" discussion. Again - a hard and fast rule is that resumes should never include fluff. With this in mind, also remember that your resume should not include everything about you or your work experience or your training / education or your skills. It should only focus on and include the top information - information that will get you an interview. You can (and should) elaborate on any additional information at the interview.

Again, there are certain examples where more than two pages are necessary. Highly intellectual, scientific and academic careers - which often include many publications, presentations and affiliations - may need to stretch to four or five pages to include all the necessary information. It just depends.

In conclusion, here is a good rule of thumb when determining your resume's length. Do you feel like you are trying to make it fit to a certain length of pages? Or squeezing it shorter? Whatever you do, make it natural (although there will always be some minor stretching or squeezing to fit the resume to an exact finish on the page you end with). Keep it yourself, focus on the best you have to offer and it'll work out great.


Want an individual estimate of what you need page-wise? Contact my professional resume service and email me your resume.
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