Resume Length — Myths and Facts

While there are no rules, most resumes today will average two pages. However, longer or shorter may be appropriate depending upon your background and career goals.

Unfortunately, two myths regarding resume length continue to impact job seekers:

  • Myth 1: A resume should never be more than one page or it will not be read by busy HR professionals and managers.
  • Myth 2: Some believe that a lengthy resume (more than 3 pages) is required to adequately describe a candidate's background.

Interestingly, these two myths represent opposing viewpoints; however, like many myths, they each contain some truth that derives from how a resume will be screened by hiring managers. (Keep in mind that some companies may also first use an automated tracking system for screening and ranking applicants. For strategies on this process, visit What Everyone Should Know about Electronic Resumes (e-Resumes)) Consider the two initial phases of the resume screening process:

  • Phase 1 - brief screening: A resume will first receive a very brief scan, often 10-20 seconds, to determine if the candidate appears to meet the major requirements. While the entire resume may be quickly scanned, utilizing a summary of qualifications with keywords and phrases based upon one's career goal and job target is advantageous.
  • Phase 2 - in-depth review: A resume that passes the initial scan will then receive greater scrutiny to determine if a candidate warrants investing the greater amount of time required for an interview. Here, relevant depth and detail in the history is best since the candidate's experience, skills, and strengths—as they apply to the position—will be more thoroughly assessed.

Ultimately, the key is balancing brevity with relevant depth and detail, all with the ultimate goal to maximize the marketing power of your presentation!

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