Ask a Recruiter: How long should a resume be?

large pile of resumes

So you’ve sat down to write your resume. As you list your previous experiences, accomplishments, and skills, you notice the page length of your document growing. 

It’s great that you bring so much to the table— but do recruiters really need to know all of that information in these initial stages? 

Today, we’re answering a common question that jobseekers have: How long should a resume be? 

How long should my resume be?

A resume should be no more than one page.

Why?

On average, recruiters only spend an average of six to seven seconds looking at resumes. They have dozens, if not hundreds, of applications to sort through, and there simply isn’t enough time to give each a thorough read. You want your resume to showcase your career and experience highlights as succinctly as possible. 

Think of a resume as a summary on the back of a book. It’s designed to hook the reader and get them interested— not tell the whole story. Similarly, a resume is supposed to be a brief overview of your skills and experiences that let a recruiter know whether or not you’re qualified to move on to the next step. 

How can I make the most of resume space?

One page may not seem like a lot of room to get your point across, so it’s important to use the space wisely. Here are some tips for making the most of your one page resume. 

1. Format it correctly.

Make the most of your space by formatting your resume in a way that puts the most important information front and center. 

Always start with your contact information. But beyond that, the best way to format your resume will depend on where you are in your career. For instance, if you’ve recently graduated from college, you’ll probably want to lead with your education and relevant coursework. If you’ve been in the workforce for three or more years, you’ll want to start with your most recent job experience. 

2. Include only information that is relevant to the job you are applying for.

If you’re having trouble squeezing your experience onto one page, look over each role and ask yourself, “Is this relevant to the job I’m applying for?” If the answer is no, consider cutting it.

For example, if you’re applying to a marketing position and have ten years of marketing experience at three companies, it is unnecessary to include your college job at the campus bookstore. That space would be better used elaborating on the experience that directly relates to the position you hope to land. 

Your resume is a snapshot, not an all-encompassing history.

3. Include a maximum of three bullet points for each job experience you list.

Recruiters want to see more than the company you worked for and the position you held. Include bullet points that explain the responsibilities and accomplishments for each experience. 

It can be easy to get carried away here and create a list that is ten bullet points long. However, you should be selective with the points that you choose and, again, keep it relevant to the job you want. Two to three bullet points per job experience should be enough to provide sufficient detail but not waste space.

4. Choose your font sizes wisely.

Need to squeeze just a few more lines onto one page? Look at your font size. Decreasing your font size by even a half point may give you the extra room you need. 

Be careful not to make it so small that it is impossible to read. Anything below 10 points is too small. 

5. Don’t include photos or images on your resume.

Photos on a resume are bad for several reasons. For one, they take up a lot of that precious, precious space! 

Secondly, photos aren’t ATS-friendly. Applicant tracking systems, commonly referred to as ATS, help recruiters sort and track applications. These programs don’t always know how to interpret photos and can cause your resume to get overlooked.

Lastly, they provide an opportunity for unconscious bias to creep in. By not including photos, you can help the recruiter can focus on what’s important— the skills and experience you bring to the table. 

Expanding on your resume during your interview

If the recruiter determines that you have the skills and qualifications for the job, your next step will be a phone screen or an interview. 

There, you will likely be asked to expand upon your resume. This is your opportunity to provide context to your experience and elaborate on what your duties and responsibilities consisted of. You can also talk about accomplishments that you didn’t have room for. 

If you remember these additional bits of information while creating your resume, jot them down on a notepad or separate document. Going over these points before your interview can help you remember to mention them.

Looking for more advice?

Visit our blog to learn more about crafting the best resume, acing your interview, and more!