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Understanding The Ideal Length of Your Resume

It is a myth that the ideal length of your resume should be one page. In fact I have read resumes that are one page to up to 13 pages. Of course a 13 page resume gets too lengthy and time consuming so I have not read all of it.

But most resumes tend to range between a single page and three pages.

When to Use a One-Page Resume

When you are a Fresh Graduate: As a fresh graduate, work experience is not one of your strengths and hence the main area of focus is going to be your education, skills, languages, project work, references and your career objective. The is not going to be too much information to warrant a longer resume.

When You are Changing Careers: Changing careers will not require you to list your professional expertise and accomplishments in your earlier roles, but will need to be designed keeping your target job in mind. Hence your education, training, key skills and work experience will contain less information. Make sure your resume clearly directs the reader to your new ambition else the hiring manager will be reading irrelevant information and most likely reject your application. Focus on transferable skills and new training/education and make a much stronger case as to why you’re a great candidate for this particular role.

When You Have Not Changed Jobs: If you have worked for only one or two employers even after 15-20 years, then focus on an achievement based resume. There is no need to describe 40 points in your job description. You are best positioned for a brief and to the point resume.

Statistically 50-80% hiring managers read a single page resume.

When to Use a Two-Page Resume

A two page resume is ideal when you have eight or more years of professional experience, several qualifications, achievements, projects and key skills. You have more space to incorporate relevant content, highlight achievements and brief job description points. The last 10 years of your professional career is most important to hiring managers and decision makers. You can omit part time or internship roles early on in your career and have more recent achievements highlighted.

Statistically 60% hiring managers read resumes that are 2 pages.

When to Use Three Pages or More

This type of resume length is more appropriate for candidates who not only have extensive work experience, but also publications, patents and licenses in addition to 10+ years of work experience, an array of qualifications, skills and achievements.

Statistically 30%-40% hiring managers read resume that are 2 pages. You can create links to external sites (incorporate permission or protection) to reduce on-page content.

Formatting Your CV is Basic and Imperative

The length of your resume is not as important as the contents. Hence there should be a bigger focus of creating an "achievement based resume" highlighting "key selling points" that makes your resume stand out.

  • Ensure that your resume is formatted for margin and paragraph spacing.

  • Use simple fonts and make sure there is same font size (10-12 is ideal) for all text and the same for all side headings(11-12 is ideal).

  • Make best use of "keywords". These keywords are noticed immediately and it may be advisable to "bold" them. Keywords are those words that are work or industry specific like terminologies, brand, model numbers etc. eg "balance sheet", "sales proposal", "SEO", "consumer electronics", "profit" etc.

  • Maintain 10-12 bullet points per job description.

  • Develop an achievement based resume. Every point must contain an accomplishment. In case it does not then use the most important job description points first.

  • Try and use charts, infographics. Avoid cramming too much text.

  • Smart name your resume e.g. Dinesh DSouza, Sales Manager. Do not save your resume using names such as "CV.doc" OR "DineshDSouza.pdf". Use a combination of your name and position.

  • Do a print preview to see how it appears.

  • Maximize space utilization from left to right. Avoid "space pockets".

Most hiring managers do not discount candidates based on the length of their CV. However, you would want them to read your resume and make an informed decision. Long resume have the disadvantage of dissuading the reader from reading its contents, even though they provide a lot of information.

Remember, the objective of your resume is "to get you an interview". The objective of your interview is "to get the job". It is best to reserve detailed information to be shared at the interview.


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