Page length was not my only focus. I also harped on the “so what?” factor. For each action I asked him, “What was the impact of your actions on the organization?” Did he save time, increase participation, improve processes, et cetera? Sure enough, there were some significant impacts.
By the time we were done, his résumé was a healthy three-pager. Are you thinking that three pages is too long? I don’t blame you for thinking that. Based on a poll I created on LinkedIn, the majority of people think a three-page résumé is too long. Who said the debate of resume length is dead?
The 1,007 people who took the poll certainly have an opinion.
The poll question was, “How many pages should a résumé be for someone with more than 5 years of stellar employment experience?” The possible answers were: “one page,” “two pages,” or “two or more pages.”
The clear winner was two pages, garnering 62% of the vote. One page came in a distant second place with 27%, and two or more pages came in last with 11%. I guess I lost big time; I voted for two pages or more. But as I’ve said, “If you have the goods, length doesn’t matter.” To a point.
Note: I also clarify by saying the work history must be within 15-years. You don’t want to go back 30- or 40-years in your work history and, thereby, produce a seven-page résumé or, more to the point, information that isn’t relevant and might reveal your age.
Here are some of the comments people posted with the poll. I hope no one takes umbrage with me for posting their thoughts. Of the 65 comments, I’ve chosen some of the ones that stood out.
Aiming for one page is a good exercise in writing in a targeted way and concisely. However, for many professionals who need a straightforward résumé to convey their qualifications for an area of expertise, 2 pages is sufficient and helpful. And, every once in a while, a 3-page résumé is warranted. (I feel the “boo” coming at me from some people in typing that statement.)Rachel Akers
Bob McIntosh, CPRW, I completely ditto Rachel Akers. I rarely write a one-page résumé for someone with significant experience. As a recruiter, I always felt like I didn’t have enough info on a candidate for my hiring manager when there was only a one-page résumé. It left way too many questions.Ashley Watkins
I completely agree with you, Rachel Akers and Bob. Résumé length is different for different people. For many, 2 pages are sufficient, but for some, the content may extend to 3 pages. My executive-level clients often need more, but the content is always strategically selected with the audience top of mind. Ask and answer: “does this detail matter to THIS audience?” If not, remove it.Adrienne Tom
Agreed. I hate rules when it comes to page length, Bob McIntosh. Each person is different and has different types of experiences. We can’t box someone in with one page just because they have five-years experience. Some of the college/new grads I work with gained so much work experience in and immediately after college that it really breaks the one-page “rule”.Erin Kennedy
It’s funny, one of the most frequently asked questions of Recruiters is about resume length. I think the answer is: It depends on how much experience you have. For a new grad, one page might be sufficient. For someone who has been in the workforce for years, 2+ pages is fine. Contrary to popular belief, Recruiters and hiring managers want to see details. Also, if we see a candidate that we like, we won’t be counting resume pages!Cynthia Wright
I concur on page length in terms of capturing the right information, with the caveat to look at who is hiring you. A VP of Operations is likely to be hired by a COO, who is typically focused on details and may prefer multiple pages. Investors, on the other hand, want to see your ROI front and center. A CTO résumé need not take 4+ pages, as that individual will be hired by a non-technical executive. Ensuring the audience gets what they need is critical – and I always look at audience first.Laura Smith-Proulx
I think it depends. No hiring manager dives into a stack of résumés thinking “Okay let’s find a good one-page résumé person to hire” or “Let’s find someone with the best 2-page résumé to hire”. It just doesn’t work like that. Some people are better off with a 1-page résumé. Some people will sell themselves better with a 2-page résumé. I think it shouldn’t be any longer than necessary, though If you can fit everything that’s relevant/important on one page, then do it.Biron Clark
This one is a sort of depends answer. I can see a really good résumé for someone with five years’ experience be one page if all the information is very focused on a specifically targeted role. Generally, I would say two pages are okay if the content justifies it.Shelley Piedmont
In my opinion the length of relevant experience, skills, education, etc are all factors. Generally 1-2 pages is good. I do not believe we should eliminate relevant content on a résumé for the sake of brevity, nor should we ‘fluff’ a résumé to reach two pages. Let the experience and goal drive the résumé.Scott Gardner
I have operated in this field for many years. I believe you need 2 or 3 pages if you want a 60K Plus job. If you are working in retail. You only need 1 page. If you are Business Professional looking to Market yourself, you need a résumé that is detailed, has main keywords,and is attractive to the reader. I think that 2 Pages is sufficient. Three pages may be overdoing it.David Dueh Chied III
Biron Clark, depending on the company, and the bandwidth of the recruiter, there just isn’t enough time to really review a complete résumé as it is — let alone make time to read multiple pages. In the end, the goal shouldn’t be to rely on your résumé being your ticket to hire, so don’t obsess over adding in everything.Robert Liedtka, PHR
“Forcing the situation” to make all the information fit in only 1 page won’t really help the candidate in most of the cases.
2 pages is “normally” a good length to balance the most relevant information and its distribution in a nice way.
I normally think twice about going to the 3rd page – and try only to do it if all the information presented is really relevant and directly related to the next career goals, avoiding really old work experience in different areas, courses done +10 years ago, etc.Juliana Rabbi
As a recruiter, I think it is short-sighted to hold by old rules. Rather than be constrained by page length, I like to see candidates use space effectively. If you are a seasoned professional – and have a ton of accomplishments that can’t be well articulated in less than 2 pages – then feel free to add that extra page. However, the real lesson is to use the space wisely and ensure you are listing accomplishments (as opposed to just job duties) in a succinct and impactful way.Heather Spiegel
There you have it; opinions vary on how long a résumé should be. The majority of our experts feel that a two-page résumé is warranted, maybe even a three-pager, but there are some who prefer the one-page résumé due to time constraints. The résumé-length debate hasn’t died.
If you’re curious what some recruiters have to say about the topic, visit this conversations on Recruiters Online Facebook group. Many of them say 10 years is sufficient.