How Long Is Your Resume Format?

I ran a poll on LinkedIn: How long is your resume format? Wow, what a response! Over 2,700 votes and from the comments, it's clear that most people want to know how long a resume format should be. So, let's talk about that.

How Long Should a Resume Format Be?

Here's my rule of thumb for how long a resume should be.

  • No more than two pages for most job seekers.
  • Up to three pages for an executive.
  • A gazillion pages or more for academic and scientific CVs.

Now, most rules have exceptions. For example: In some countries resumes (also called CVs) are expected to be four pages and they contain personal info like health, date of birth, and other data we don't put on our resumes here in the U.S.

Why Resume Length Matters

A resume format needs to work for its reader — a recruiter or hiring manager. So look at the length of your resume from your reader's point of view. When she reads it on her screen or on paper, she wants to:

  • See who you are, what you want, and why you should have it — all in a brief eight-second scan. This is often achieved by choosing the right resume template — chronological or combination — for your situation.
  • Find the keywords, skills, and experience that makes you a qualified job candidate. If your resume doesn't make that possible, you may need to add some info, which would make it longer unless you delete stuff you don't need.
  • Read through your resume quickly, seeing the most relevant info in her first scan. This may mean cutting text that's too detailed and buries the main points. Also, use bullet points, indents, and bold fonts for headings to make your resume easy to navigate.
  • Get a sense of your presentation skills. By keeping your resume concise, you show the hiring manager that you're considerate of her time and you're not a motormouth.

What About a One-Page Resume Format?

If you can get everything onto one page, while still making your resume quick and easy to read, do so. The bottom line is "quick and easy to read." It's better to have a two-page resume that's easy to read than a one-pager that looks dense and crammed with tiny print.

Resume formatting tip: Use a font size no smaller than 11 pt. and margins no less than .75 inches.

So, How Long Is Your Resume?

Curious what my LinkedIn poll results were? The survey question was: How Long is Your Resume? There were 2,727 participants. Here's how they voted:
18% had 1-page
53% had 2 pages
16% had 3 pages
7% had 4 pages or more

How many pages is your resume? Leave us a quick note in the comments section below. If your resume format is three pages or longer, please tell us why you think it should be that long.