Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021

Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021

Resume length is one of the great mysteries of the job application process. Because of it, you might be wondering, how long should a resume be?

Should it always be one page?

What if you have a lot of relevant experience and need more space to describe it?

If you have a work history that goes way back because you’ve been working for 25+ years, is three pages okay?

Well, it doesn’t help that you can find arguments for just about any length online if you look hard enough.

Fortunately, we’ve analyzed the resumes of real users hired at competitive companies such as Spotify, Booking.com, Verizon Digital Media Services, Amazon, Intercom, and more. Instead of throwing opinions around, all your questions about resume length are answered in this guide.

Contents:

  • Why are there so many opinions about resume length?
  • How long should your resume be in 2021?
  • How far back should a resume go?
  • Should a resume be one page?
  • What’s the ideal resume length for the hiring manager?
  • How to shorten my resume?
  • Summary & Key Takeaways

Alternatively, you can skip this whole section and find a PROVEN resume example for your specific job position. From there, building your resume and seeing what works is simple and easy. Best of all, it’s free to use!

BROWSE RESUME EXAMPLES

“At any point in time, I would recommend Enhancv as a platform to prepare one’s CV. It offers a lot of sample templates as well. Kudos to the entire team and thanks again for getting my dream job!” – Imran Khan

Why are there so many opinions about resume length?

Unfortunately, there’s no best answer.

The hiring landscape has changed considerably in recent years. Not even 20 years ago, keeping your resume down to one page was both a strategic and cost-effective move (i.e., cutting down on printing costs).

Going even further back in time (as far as Kiplinger’s Changing Times 55’ issue on job seeker advice) you’ll read that keeping your resume to a single page is your best option.

Two pages are also acceptable.

But, anything longer makes it too difficult for employers to go through.

Today, these worries are less pronounced. In fact, there’s a growing trend of recruiters preferring two-page resumes over single-page ones.

According to a study by ResumeGo, it’s found that hiring managers are 2.3 times more prone to select a two-page resume format over the one-page resumes. No matter what the candidate’s professional level is, it doesn’t make a big difference.

So why do people still argue for a one-page resume?

In one word: relevance.

Every resume has an audience. But, not everyone will have the same opinion.

And, that’s why it’s difficult to assume what the ideal resume length is.

Some recruiters and hiring managers will follow the one-page rule to the letter while others will think the rule is useless. To help overcome this difficulty, it’s best to research the hiring practices of the organization you’re applying to and see the common traits associated with page lengths.

How long should your resume be in 2021?

There is no perfect answer.

Depending on the job description and your work experience, your resume should be one or two pages long. If you have over 10 years of relevant experience, a multi-page resume works better than a one-page.

(Related: One-page resume: 3 Powerful Examples)

However, there are a few things you should keep in mind if your resume does go over several pages long. So, be sure to keep reading on!

How far back should a resume go?

One question on your mind might be how far back should a resume go for work history.

As mentioned, it depends on where you are in your career and how much work experience you have. These are the factors that vary for every candidate which can determine how long your resume should be.

And, that’s why it can be difficult to assume the best answer.

To get a better understanding of how where you are in your career can match your resume length, see below!

One Page Resume:

  • Your experience isn’t relevant for a specific industry
  • You only have experience in one or two companies
  • You have less than 10 years of experience
  • You work in an oversaturated market (IE a recruiter is unlikely to take the time to read more than a page)
  • You want to cut down on paper use
  • Preferred by your recruiter
  • You want to ensure the recruiter sees everything
  • This is your first job or internship
  • Your focus is on your skills and not on previous experience
  • You’re making a career change that requires robust industry knowledge

Two Page Resume:

  • You have robust technical knowledge
  • You want to balance your work experience and culture fit
  • You’ve made a significant impact in your previous role
  • You have experience the company isn’t aware they need
  • You have both extensive work and volunteer experience
  • You have multiple relevant educations
  • You’re applying for a mid-level position
  • Certain sections are required on your resume

Three+ Page Resume:

  • You’re applying to an Industry-specific (academia etc.,) role
  • You’re an executive / high-seniority
  • You’re using a portfolio style
  • You’re certain that HR wants the amount of detail you can provide in this many pages

Should a Resume Be One Page?

Are one-page resumes the best?

How about a two-page resume, when should you use which?

Before we take a closer look at the case studies for different resume lengths and why it works, your resume needs to answer four simple questions:

  • Who are you?
  • What relevant experience do you have?
  • Why are you motivated for this position?
  • How will you make an impact in your role?
  • What are your accomplishments and qualifications?

These four questions will help you determine how long your resume should be and keeps the hiring manager’s perspective in mind. By answering who you are, the recruiter has someone to pair your work experience with. More than that, they learn about your personality and potential cultural fit.

Showing your motivation for your role ensures the HR can see you’re not just looking for any job, you want this one.

Most importantly, your potential impact is what will entice the recruiter most as it directly relates to their performance and business goals. To do this, always remember to quantify past experience.

That being said, let’s get into Enhancv’s case studies of how a one-page, two-page, and three-page resume got candidates hired in even the most competitive spaces.

Case Study: Gal’s One Page Resume

With over a decade of experience, Gal was searching for a new job in business development.

From starting his own company to leading software solutions all the way to speaking three languages, you could say he was spoiled for choice.

Most people would say that 10+ years of experience = two pages.

But, Gal took a different approach.

On one page, he successfully told the recruiter who he was, why he was motivated for this job, the experience he’d bring, and how he would make an impact.

Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be

Amidst the fog like Gal, you will hear different opinions about how long your resume should be. For someone with over 10 years of experience, most professionals and job seekers around will expect to have a two-page resume.

That doesn’t necessarily mean you should.

Since Gal’s resume was one page, it was completely different to the rest of the other applicants. In other words, it was a gateway to standing out from the crowd and getting his voice heard among the chaos.

Be like Gal and get hired for the competitive job posting at your dream company by using Enhancv’s free resume builder. Use the same one-page formula now below!

BUILD MY ONE PAGE RESUME

It only takes a few minutes!

Why was one page the right choice?

Catching attention

Gal had all the experience in the world, but his aim wasn’t listing as much as possible in his work experience section, skills section or education section.

His aim was to catch HR’s attention.

Recruiters can look at resumes for less than 7.4 seconds. Having a long, drawn-out resume might be the difference between the ‘No’ and the ‘Maybe’ pile.

Gal’s one-pager gives a quick, non-exhaustive record of his work history and talents. He knew once he secured an interview he could get the job. Catching the attention of the recruiter with a succinct resume was therefore vital.

(Tip: You can include a short bio on the top of your resume in a bold color to quickly catch the recruiter’s attention and save space.)

Staying concise

There was no need to include multiple pages as Gal’s descriptions were concise and to-the-point.

He went into detail on his most recent job and kept other relevant experience down to two bullet points. His industry expertise was conveyed quickly using one-word visuals too.

Business development is rooted in your ability to communicate and do so as effectively as possible. Gal knew recruiters would be looking for a short few words on how he has led previous businesses to success.

(Tip: Describing your previous experience with one-two bullet points will allow you to focus on your key achievements and save space.)

Case Study: Daniel’s Two Page Customer Support Resume

Daniel had been involved in remote work for over two years.

Two years of experience doesn’t sound like a lot. But the impact he’s had during that time was huge, which left him with a lot to say.

The nature of his work requires more detail on who he is and his ability to fit company culture despite the distance. It was also necessary to explain the reasons why he’s gravitated towards remote working too.

His less than 10 years of experience would typically lead us to a one-page resume. However, in this case, two pages were needed.

Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be
Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be

The hiring manager wants to see the value you can provide for the company. Even if you don’t have as much experience as Gal does and you’re someone like Daniel, you want to talk about the results you were responsible for.

When the employer sees what you’re capable of, it’s more likely they’ll hire you for the job posting since they understand how valuable you are.

If you’re like Daniel and you want a proven two-page resume template to secure your new career, click the button below to get started for free!

BUILD MY TWO PAGE RESUME

It only requires minimal effort. It’s that simple!

Why was adding a second page the right choice?

Showing you who he is

HRs are interested in culture fit to identify whether employees’ practices and passions align with the employer’s goals.

Daniel opens his resume with a short summary of his career, and later goes on to provide useful links where the HR can learn more about him (e.g., his website).

Using a two-page resume, he didn’t have to worry whether including these details would detract from his previous experience.

(Tip: You can use a Most Proud of Section with Enhancv to highlight aspects of your personality and your career experience all-in-one on your resume.)

Is it bad to have a 2-page resume?

Working in technical support and engineering obviously requires a certain level of technical expertise.

Hiring managers need to clearly see the extent of Daniel’s knowledge on his resume. This means exploring the projects he’s worked on and the technologies he has experience with. He dedicates just under two full pages explaining these and highlights his own projects under a Projects section.

This shows the extent of Daniel’s knowledge along with his initiative and ability.

(Tip: You can utilize Enhancv’s Technologies Section to briefly mention all of your technical skills, software, and languages you have used before.)

Case Study: Mia’s Three Page Research Assistant Resume

Mia has been working in immunology for many years.

From her undergraduate work to her current postdoctoral work… Her drive to make a difference in the world has produced publications, presentations, and awards.

In her pursuit of postdoctoral research, demonstrating her expertise in the field is an absolute must. There are also expectations of an academic resume – to put simply, having the correct style and streamlining your design.

To produce a resume to satisfy these conditions as well as discussing her previous work, a three-page resume was needed.

Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be
Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be
Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be

So far with all the case studies, have you noticed any similarities?

Firstly, they’re modern resumes which stand out. Above all, it’s the resume design and the way it highlights key information such as your certifications and different types of skills by using appropriate visual aspects. This is what makes them so compelling for the hiring manager.

Chances are, the recruiters at your company aren’t used to seeing a modern resume like this. So, making an impression and getting your foot in the door isn’t difficult.

If you’re unsure what to write and trying to cope with writer’s block, Enhancv makes the entire resume building process easier for you.

When you’re using any of these proven examples, you have a resume in front of you that’s gotten someone hired in the most competitive spaces. More importantly, they could just be like you.

Meaning, you can easily get ideas and replace the contents with your own work experience and tailor it for the job opening so it works for you.

These resume templates are free.

Why not get hired by spending only a few minutes building your resume with Enhancv? If you’re like Mia and need a three-page resume, get started now by clicking below!

BUILD A THREE PAGE RESUME

Building a resume has never been easier. On top of that, it’s free!

Why was a three-page resume the right choice?

Readable format

Mia spaced her experience across the three pages to keep from overpacking text in one area while also facilitating detailed discussion where necessary.

Keeping a consistent format meant defined margins, bold headings, and a simple design.

There’s little room to cut down on details in a resume for postdoctoral research – every author, every long word, every reference is needed. Restricting her resume to one-two pages would have required leaving off key works.

(Tip: Enhancv’s Single Column template design gives your resume a clean-cut and sleek finish!)

Is it too long?

Discussing your expertise in immunology isn’t something that happens in a few bullet points.

Most publication titles alone are over 10 words long – you can’t just shorten them down. However, this doesn’t mean that Mia was frivolous in her space-usage. Her research has been grouped into eras (Undergrad / Ph.D.) with the main points discussed.

Mia keeps things short-and-sweet, but she has a lot to mention. Applying for a postdoc, it’s better to give them everything.

(Tip: You can include an industry experience section on an Enhancv resume that gives a quick visual indicator of all your key industry-specific abilities!)

What’s The Ideal Resume Length For The Hiring Manager?

CV length is the difference between an experienced candidate and an irrelevant candidate. If your resume is too long, it’s a complete waste of time to go through.

On the other hand, if a resume is too short they won’t get an overview of your suitability for the position. It’s good practice to scope out the hiring preferences of the company you are applying to. This will allow you to tailor your resume to the known preferences of your hiring manager to give you the best chance of getting noticed and called for an interview.

Let’s take a look at this a bit further by breaking down an entry-level resume and an executive-level resume.

Entry-level Resume

As a graduate or someone who’s just finished high school with a solid GPA, it can be nerve-racking to think about applying for your first job.

Most of the time, your resume is going to be one-page. It makes sense since you don’t have as much work experience as someone else who’s been in the workforce might have. Though, you might still tell yourself to push for a two-page resume.

However, it’s not as effective as you think. In fact, a one-page resume is more powerful. It just depends on the approach you take and how you do it.

Instead of reinventing the wheel, it’s smarter to see what works.

So, first, open the resume examples page on Enhancv and search for an entry-level position resume.

Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be

Next, you’ll be taken to a page that has a complete guide for creating an entry-level resume.

But, I want you to click on the “use this example” button:

Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be

Great! You now have full access to a proven resume.

You can see what works and if you wanted to replace the content and make your own resume using this as inspiration, then go for it by all means necessary!

Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be

See the impact of this one-page resume?

While it’s not two-pages and might not seem to have a lot of information, it contains everything necessary. Since it’s fluff-free, minimal and straight to the point, it leaves a bigger impact on the hiring manager skimming through your resume.

While it’s important to be using the right keyword, it’s not just about what you say.

It’s how you say it.

With an entry-level resume, you should aim for a one-page resume. As long as you’ve included everything you need alongside the right resume sections and details, it’s way more compelling than a forced two-page resume.

Executive Resume

This time, let’s look at an executive resume. You might be expecting this type of resume to be at least two pages long, right?

The reality is, a one-page resume also works.

When building your resume with Enhancv, we advise all job seekers and professionals to create a resume that’s one-page long. The reason being is that it’s more impactful and can say a lot more than a two-page resume.

For example, let’s take a look at Enhancv’s executive resume template:

Enhancv Resume Length: How Long Should a Resume Be in 2021 How long should a resume be

Instead of just plainly telling, it’s more powerful to show.

If you’re able to keep your entire career and work experience concise and demonstrate that into a single page, it says a lot about you.

In the case of a one-page resume, you’re showing a high level of efficiency and expertise.

On top of that, it’s more effective and meaningful. Your resume is more likely to be more memorable because of how different it looks and how easy it is to identify key pieces of details (thanks to the visual features of your resume)!

Still wondering whether or not this will work? There’s only one way to find out.

Through our case studies above, we’ve broken it down and shown you why it worked. We also have candidates where Enhancv’s resume templates have gotten them hired at even the biggest companies such as Amazon and Tesla.

The best way to get started with anything is to see what already works.

So, if you haven’t already been actively following these steps, start now by browsing a proven example for your specific job using the button below!

BROWSE RESUME EXAMPLES

It’s the best way to get started!

How to shorten my resume?

You might be thinking, how could I fit everything into a single page? One section of a resume might need more space than another, but then it restricts me from fitting everything into one…

For example, if you’re using a functional resume and have different skills such as:

  • Computer skills
  • Communication skills
  • Language skills
  • Soft skills
  • Hard skills

Even if you’re using a different resume layout (e.g. chronological resume), there’s always that thought of wanting to include more things. It’s always good to mention additional experience but it can sometimes have the opposite effect.

To learn how to shorten your resume to two pages or one page, use the following key tips:

  1. Group your early career into one section
  2. Focus your previous work experience with one-two bullets
  3. Use a short bio in lieu of a personal resume summary or resume objective
  4. Use a Most Proud Of section to intertwine achievements with culture fit
  5. Choose an optimal font type – Rubik, Roboto, Calibri, and Lato take up less space compared to Arial
  6. Consider smaller font size – 10.5 p is still great for content, while headers can be somewhere between 13 and 15 p.
  7. Trim down unnecessary sections, such as references, and a lengthy address.
  8. Remove any filler words, such as “the”, , “an”, “a”, “like” or “that”.
  9. Experiment with the document margins until you optimize the use of the resume’s white space. You can decrease it to a 0.5 of an inch.

A good question to ask yourself when reducing your resume length is, will this significantly affect my chances of getting an interview if it were omitted?

If the answer is no, you can remove it.

Another underrated strategy is to proofread and edit your resume. Sometimes, you can rephrase and describe things better using fewer words.

How Long Should Your Resume Be – Key Takeaways

Truth is, there’s no perfect answer. There are too many factors to be considered to allow for a simple determination. Nonetheless, the strategies and topics discussed will help you in making the decision.

Before submitting your resume, use the following checklist summarised from everything in this guide:

  • I’ve looked at the typical traits of one page, two page, and three + page resume
  • I’ve answered the who, why, what, and how questions of a resume
  • I’ve ensured all of my experience is specific, relevant, and measured
  • I’ve determined the significance of each item included on my resume and believe removing any section would negatively affect my chances of being hired
  • I’ve consulted other successful resumes to see how others have crafted their resumes for inspiration
  • I’ve used Enhancv’s builder to present all of this information in a sleek way and have capitalized on their unique sections to stand out

If you’ve followed these steps, chances are you have the perfect resume length for you.

As we’ve learned from Gal’s case study, sometimes rules-of-thumb do not fit your situation. Daniel’s story shows us that sticking to one page isn’t always an advantage, and Mia shows us that in some cases, the recommended length is the best length.

As long as you’ve done the research and followed this guide, there is no right or wrong answer.

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Do you agree with our tips? How long do you prefer your resume to be? Share your own insights in the comments below.