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How Long Should A Resume Be?

Written by

Abbey Harris

Date

July 14, 2018

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How long should a resume be

Way back in the days of yore, collegians in business writing classes were told resumes should never exceed one page–no matter what. Times have changed, according to Monster.com because “a resume should be long enough to entice hiring managers to call you for job interviews.”

How long is that?! Unfortunately, the statement is vague for a reason. There is no hard-and-fast rule about how long a resume should be.

According to CBS News, “for recent college grads the resume should be just one page long, but for more experienced workers they expect to see at least two pages.” Additionally, the article says that workers should include every job they ever held but that employers “were interested only in the last 10 years of job history with a focus on positions relevant to the job at hand.”

According to Forbes, “A standard, non-academic resume is one or two pages long. It is written in reverse chronological order.”

Clear? As mud probably.

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Though the perfect length of a resume is oft-debated, the resume itself MUST be relevant. U.S. News and World Report summarizes it well, “Whether you’re just out of school or have worked for 20 years…your resume needs to be concise and tailored to” the job for which you are applying.

As stated in the U.S. News and World Report article above, “recruiters won’t read a full bulleted list of your duties and everything you did at every job. They only want to read what in your background is applicable to the particular job and/or company to which you are applying.” The resume is a tool used to build intrigue and excitement about how your experience meets the needs of the company with which you are applying to work. The resume is not an outline copy of your autobiography. (Use LinkedIn for that…you can list literally any and every job you’ve ever had, your honors and awards, feature projects, share links and more.)

Ok, so essentially, your resume does need to be about two pages. And according to Time.com, though resume trends change quickly, some things never go out of style. “When it comes to packaging your work experience, crisp writing and brevity still reign supreme.” Time also says, “The top one-third of your resume is what a recruiter or hiring manager scans to determine if they will read the rest…and they only give it three seconds.”

So, what should you put there?

One element of the resume that seems to have gone out of style–or become obsolete–is the objective statement. TheMuse.com lists the objective as one of the seven things to remove from your resume saying “the vast majority of resume objectives say nothing.” The site suggests crafting an executive summary “that showcases your overarching value proposition…and speaks directly to stuff you know the target audience is going to care the most about.”

Essentially, the executive summary is where you want to put all relevant information that would show an employer that you are what they’re looking for even if they choose not to read any further down your resume. Alternatively, you want to write it so that the employer is enticed to read more about you because of what’s written there.

All this to say, in the top third of the first page of your resume you should share your name, contact information (phone number, address, email) and a compelling executive or personal summary that includes keywords form the job posting, accomplishments and achievements that illustrate contributions you could make. Business Insider also suggests you pepper your resume with verbs.

Regardless of how much work experience you have, whether you’re looking for your first job or changing careers after 20 years, don’t be afraid of the resume. It’s the first glimpse a potential employer has of you. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that when utilized correctly is unmatched in helping to propel the creator to success.

Resources to help you write your resume and cover letter

If you are looking for help crafting a strong resume and cover letter that gets results, check out these resources from collegemouse.com.

Need hand-on help to review your resume and cover letter? Our experts can help. We will not only review your resume, but also advise you on how to rewrite it to bring out your best strengths to fit the job or role you are looking to apply for. Other services include Linkedin profile makeovers, personality testing and more. Check out our full list of  career support services here

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Written by:  Abbey Harris

Abbey Harris is a communications professional with more than 10 years experience working in government, education and retail. She has a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in Communication and Information, both from the University of Tennessee.

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