is the one-page resume rule dead?

An awful lot of people have internalized the old rule that your resume can only be one page and go through incredible contortions to keep their resumes to one page, even when they have years of experience. Other people apparently have never heard that they should think about resume length at all and thus create resumes of incredible length, offering up their professional history told as a novella.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Is anyone right? What are the rules on resume length these days?

You can read my take on this over at Inc. today, where where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and often updating/expanding my answers to them).

{ 115 comments… read them below }

  1. PEBCAK

    If you’re handing out paper copies, a two-sided resume looks way cleaner than two pages stapled, IMO.

    1. James - VP Human Resources

      I agree. Unless you are in a position where you are not only the one who has to read resumes and do the hiring, it’s hard to understand the struggle. I work at a company with a high demand of job seekers. Having to look through 50 resumes a day, you quickly look for the concise 1-page format. I had a very successful CEO once tell me that a resume should be able to be framed, like an award or a movie poster (you wouldn’t look to see if there was a second page because everything you need to know is on the front). Having to flip a page or negotiate multiple stapled pages can seem innocuous, but is a really ineffective way to sell yourself. Commercials have a 30-second format to get the message across quickly. That’s what a resume should do. Most people have a wide range of experience, but an employer is looking to see that every piece of information on that first page is specifically made interesting to them and the workplace. Being well-rounded and adaptable is one thing, but being able to tailor a resume to a potential job is the key to standing out. It should almost seem like every job you have had up until that point was preparing you to be the ideal candidate for the position.

  2. djx

    We’re using an executive search process to help in finding people to fill two very senior positions – CEO and a VP – at a global nonprofit organization. One position is likely to $180K/year and the other more than that. I’ve seen a few very clear and forceful resumes of 3 or 4 pages. Sure, distilling them down to 2 would be possible, but we’re only seeing a dozen resumes anyway and are reading them very carefully. The cover letters in this process tend to be long too – which is fine.

  3. BRR

    When I see a qualified candidate who has a lot of experience and two pages, by the time I get to the second page I barely read it. I feel there are more people who could shrink their’s down (I can feel that I’m going to get push back on that).

    Another exception is tech people I believe.

    1. Rebecca

      I trimmed my resume down as much as I could, but I’m 52 years old, and I’ve had a lot of experience with various things over the years, compounded by working for only 2 companies in all that time. It’s two pages long, but the font is legible and it’s laid out succinctly.

      1. djx

        I’m three years younger, worked mainly in the same industry with same organization, and my resumes is similar – a little shorter perhaps (1.5 pages).

        1. Downsouth

          1.5 pages seems like a waste of .5 pages. I would go 2 full pages or cut it down to one.

      2. BRR

        My comment was not meant to be all encompassing. Obviously the number of jobs and what you did at each job would need to be taken into account. I don’t have a problem with two page resumes and I know there use is only going to increase.

        1. Rebecca

          I like the suggestion of putting it on two sides to make one sheet of paper vs two pieces stapled together.

          I hope I didn’t come across as abrupt – I was typing quickly and I don’t always use all my words. It’s a PA Dutch thing.

          1. BRR

            Oh not at all. I was just worried my original comment might come across as criticizing everybody with a two-page. You sound like you need two pages or would be missing something. I meant (I’m not always clear) that some people use two pages when they would be fine with one.

    2. Traveler

      I agree that some people could trim their resume down, and their cover letter. I think sometimes they are long to make it look like they have more experience than they really have. Though, mine is longer, but it’s common in my field and usually necessary to cover nuances.

      I think the opposite is true, too, though. I’ve seen resumes where they only have 1 line per job. That’s not enough to give me an idea of what you did.

      1. BRR

        From what I know (which isn’t tons because it’s not my field), there can be a lot of qualifications to list. Somebody else can probably go into it better.

        1. techandwine

          That’s exactly it. Tech is also one of those fields where a skills section is still incredibly beneficial. I want to be able to see at a glance what programming languages, software, and hardware someone is familiar with. It helps to weed out candidates who are applying for a job where we work mainly in python, but all of their experience is in java.

  4. Bee Eye LL

    I work in IT so when I get a resume I am looking for experience and qualifications. I want to know if you have any certifications (A+, Microsoft, etc) and if you have a degree. I could give a flip if you think you have “excellent communication skills” or are a “hard worker”. The ones who fill their resumes with fluff are who are most likely to get overlooked. Part of having a strong resume is having one that appeals to what employers are looking for. It needs to be very specific and contain no generic, blanket statements.

    1. Danielle

      This is so true for IT resumes. I think this is somewhat a shame, because I work with a lot of IT people who lack basic troubleshooting and communication skills. They have degrees left and right, but I often have to tell them in very basic steps what needs to be done. IT focuses extensively on skills, but the right person can often learn that skill faster than a poor communicator/troubleshooter can learn those “soft” skills.

  5. Eric

    I recently increased my resume from 1 page to 2. However, I laid it out such that the stuff that I would cut (older, less relevant jobs), if forced to go down to 1 page, is the stuff on page 2. So if you don’t read till the second page, no harm done vs. a 1 page resume. I realize this isn’t always possible, but it works in some cases.

    1. Sunflower

      I think this is what you really need to remember when considering a 2 page resume. It’s fine but realize things on the second page might not be seen

    2. Meg Murry

      Yes, my resume went to 2 page recently, but the most relevant info (education and most recent jobs in my field) are on page 1, while page 2 has my older experience and “other experience” (unrelated or tangential field) and volunteer work. If someone read only page 1, they would probably get the most “this is why you should hire me” – but every interviewer has brought up at least one point from page 2 (as in, “oh you worked at ABC? We did a project with them in 200x. Did you work with Jane Smith?” or similar). If nothing else, the page 2 gives them a little bit more about me as a person (I lived in another part of the country post-college, I worked in a tangential industry, etc)

      The other thing is that I eas applying for jobs that wanted 10+ years experience, and my front page work only totaled 8 – so I needed to list at least one more job to show that I really have been in our industry more than 10 years (and in manufacturing for 15), but I couldn’t do that without cramming or doing things that harmed readability like cutting font sizes or margins.

      I’m really glad the 1 page rule is gone. I do agree though that you need to have sufficient work experience – if I haven’t seen anything worthwhile by page one, I may not bother with page 2.

    3. Shannon Terry

      As a professional resume writer, I get this question a lot, too.

      Completely agree with Eric and Meg. It’s how I write 90% of my clients’ projects. I get some recent grads, and generally, one page is plenty for them. I read a comment above about C-level’s with 3+ pages – most of those could be reduced to 2 if the writer was brutal in cutting and skilled in writing.

      Just my 2 cents!

  6. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

    I was doing really well at the “1pg resume” thing, and then ended up working a bunch of short-term contract jobs which fall into the “relevant and recent” category. So I’m glad that my 2-pager is acceptable.

  7. Lily in NYC

    How timely – I was screening resumes this morning for an entry-level position and cannot believe how many 3 and 4 page resumes I received from people who just graduated. I wish I could tell these kids not to list every single course they took for their major on their resume.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees

      Honest question: Are you supposed to put ANY of the courses you’ve taken on a resume? I’m a fairly recent grad and wasn’t aware that was a Thing.

      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        Nope! There might be some very specific, unusual situation where it makes sense to do so, but in general no — employers want to know about your work experience on your resume, not the details of your courses.

        1. Steve G

          Uh oh am I coming across weird in my resume if I graduated in 2003 and have “coursework in Accounting, Finance, and Statistics” under my BBA in Marketing section? I have it there because I’ve met many people who think a Marketing major thinks you only did marketing classes, when I did ALOT of stastistics, including programming in SAS, and know GAAP and how to make balance sheets, owner’s equity sheets, etc. I don’t want potential employers to think I don’t know financial analysis because I didn’t major in Finance.

          1. Development professional

            I graduated in 2003 also, and I also took courses that included this kind of stuff. But I haven’t really used any of it since, which means if I needed it for a job now, I’d probably be useless. Have you been using those skills? If so, they should show up in other parts of your resume, so you shouldn’t need them as a bullet under your degree.

          2. Traveler

            Can you discuss this in your cover letter instead? Or put it in a skills summary at the top of the resume?

            1. Steve G

              My cover letter is already too meaty because I talk about how I started the operations of the NY branch of a large corporation, so started all areas of sales operations, regulatory, equipment installation vendor management etc….but I will think of how to slide it in

          3. Jessa

            I would probably put the whole line about “statistics, including programming, etc.” in the cover letter if it was relevant to the job. Or at least actually put those specific accomplishments rather than the vague “statistics, etc.”

          4. Koko

            I think you’d be better served by listing these things in your skills section, especially the software that you know how to use. (Assuming you still do – I used SAS and SPSS in grad school 6 years ago and I wouldn’t put them on my resume because I’m not sure I’d be any good at them anymore not having used them since.)

            As a resume screener I’d rather see, “Proficient in SAS, GAAP, [etc.]…” than “Coursework in Accounting, Finance, and Statistics [ten years ago].”

            Similarly, if you’ve used any of your finance/accounting skills in your jobs since then, work it into one of your bullets. That will again convey more value to see you actually used the skills on the job than to read that you took some classes in it a decade ago. And if you haven’t used the skills on the job in the last ten years, the same point as above – are you really still skilled enough to put it on your resume, or do you just have a passing familiarity with the general concepts at this point?

        2. Prismatic Professional

          I’m curious about your opinion of putting (relevant) final projects/senior projects/thesis papers on resumes for recent (within the past year) graduates. Sometimes they are specific to research or to demonstrate knowledge of industry specific programs/tools.

          1. PEBCAK

            Do it, but be succinct. When interviewing entry-level, lots of people have very little work experience, and a project like this can help differentiate among dozens of candidates with the same degree.

            On the other hand, it really isn’t the same as real work experience, and over-emphasizing it can look naive.

            1. Traveler

              I think whether or not its the same as real work experience depends when it comes to thesis work. I know people that do groundbreaking work that is every bit as relevant in their field as job experience. They are also typically responsible to a higher body (the university and other researchers), and depending on what kind of funding you have, you might be being paid.

              Final projects and senior projects I think get more iffy on relevance. Could help if its a situation where who you worked with or worked under was a rock star in your field and would give you a leg up. I hired someone once because of who they worked with in a previous internship, because it made them stand out from other candidates.

          2. AnotherFed

            Definitely, but label it as such, and use the same achievement/accomplishment type bullets that you would for a job – things like ‘wrote a C++ application to handle obstacle avoidance for a firefighting robot’ instead of ‘had to work on a group robot project for Senior Design Class.’

        3. AnotherFed

          I think this is like the skills section mentioned the other day, where it depends on the industry somewhat. For lower level engineering and IT jobs, it helps to see what they focused in before they have much work history. Sure, three candidates might be mechanical engineers, but if one of them did all of their electives in energy-related courses, another in materials and failure analysis, and a third in fluid dynamics, they will have pretty different abilities and their internships and student jobs probably won’t show that distinction.

        4. Artemesia

          A liberal arts major who took accounting or has some other technical skill might want to showcase that in a first resume. Better yet a minor in such a field. Same might be true of advanced coursework in a language where some facility in a language might be useful.

      2. Lily in NYC

        I tend to see if from applicants with engineering or computer science backgrounds. Who obviously haven’t read the job description well because we make it very clear this is not an engineering or IT project management position. But some people do refer to coursework without listing the actual classes; that seems pretty normal to me.

      3. Turanga Leela

        I’d do this only if (a) you’re a current student or very recent grad, (b) it’s not obvious from your major what your coursework included, (c) the coursework is very relevant, and (d) you’re succinct about it.

        For instance, if you majored in public administration and are applying for a job/internship with your local health and human services department, you could have a line (ONE LINE) noting that you had coursework on public benefits, urban planning, and health insurance systems. I can see that being useful to the person reading your resume—but it’s not as good as work experience, and as soon as you have work experience in those areas, you can/should get rid of it.

    2. A Definite Beta Guy

      Chalk it up to bad guidance offices. It’s what I was told when I was in college, so it’s what probably still what they’ll still be told.

    3. ScottySmalls

      I’m a recent graduate as well, but I will include courses in my cover letter if I think they are relevant to the job and wouldn’t be obvious. Is that any better?

      And as someone with limited work experience (all of them school jobs not in my field) How do you add volunteer experience to a 1 pg resume?

      1. Lily in NYC

        I’m not sure? For example, when we’re hiring for an urban planner, I don’t want to see a list of relevant classes on a resume because everyone else applying also went to school for the same thing and took the same classes, so it doesn’t really stand out and takes up unnecessary space. But I’m sure there has to be situations where it would help.
        I barely even glance at volunteer stuff; I can only think of one case where it helped someone get a job here and it was because she spent two years in Africa doing pro bono economic development and it was directly related to what she would do here.

      2. Traveler

        If volunteer experience is critical in your field, I would include it under your “experience” section along with your jobs and just note that it was volunteer. If not, find another section at the end of your resume, where it can be bonus second page information.

        1. Turanga Leela

          I want to echo the first point. It’s completely fine to have an “experience” section that combines paid work, volunteer work, and internships.

    4. Graciosa

      I usually see anything over two pages as a sign that the person either hasn’t accomplished anything (business related) yet or lacks written communication skills.

      The first covers the issue Lily mentioned – the fact that you passed your classes in “Zombies in Popular Media” and “A History of the Pig in America” isn’t really a business accomplishment (although as a friend or family member, I’m willing to be proud).

      The second is more targeted at people with long careers who fall into the trap of thinking that as an applicant you have to list every job and accomplishment from decades ago. What have you done lately? Either drop or consolidate the irrelevant earlier stuff.

      I suspect I’m harder than the average hiring manager on the second category – but my function requires a high level of skill in written communication. If you can’t manage to edit your resume, you’re not worth my time.

  8. Elysian

    If anyone works in legal hiring, I would be really curious to know how this translates over to legal resumes. (Since law always has to be different…) I’ve been out of law school 2 years, and I feel like I’m still “new” enough to stick to a page, but its starting to get long. I have my pre-law school career (which I did for two years) on there, my 1L summer position, 2L summer/turned into a longer term part time position, one semester internship with a Judge, clinic work, publications, bar admission, plus all the education info (basics from undergrad, law school and journal and honors/GPA and stuff). It’s a right tight fit to one page, and I’l like to move to two but I’m afraid. I guess I’m looking from permission from someone in the know.

    1. BRR

      I’m not in the field so I can’t answer, out of curiosity do you need your pre-law school career stuff?

      1. Elysian

        I would think it depends? I don’t know. – I want to keep it on because it is somewhat related to the field of law I practice in (and I think shows some “insider” knowledge/shows that I understand to our clients) and is also an interesting field that people like to talk about. I’ve been on the fence about taking it off to make more space, but at the moment I’ve left it on with no real description job duties/accomplishments. The duties can be easily discerned from the title and the accomplishments don’t really translate anymore.

        1. Turanga Leela

          I really like to see people’s careers from before law school! I guess it does depend on the circumstances, but I always look for this. Sometimes it shows a useful skill set or body of knowledge (the person used to be an accountant, the person ran a small business), but other times it’s just really interesting (the person was in the Peace Corps, the person was a professional artist).

        2. bridget

          I’ve stripped out almost all “description of duties” bullet points from mine. For example, all people hiring in law know exactly what one does while summering at a firm or at appellate judicial clerkship. For confidentiality reasons, I can’t be specific about which cases I worked on while at the court.

          My plan is to leave it totally blank for now (each position just has title, employer, dates, location, but no descriptive bullets). Eventually, I will start including representative cases, big wins, etc. when I get to the point where I *have* representative cases and big wins :) (also 2-3 years out, so this is still on the horizon). At that point, I’ll probably start spilling onto two pages.

          As for pre-law, I went straight through and I’ve cut my undergrad info to two lines (school, dates, major, and my college debate team). Not sure what I’d do if I had substantial work experience, but probably similar to above – keep it light on descriptions of accomplishments, because the type of field is relevant, not how good you were at it.

          I have never had an “interests” section, as is so common for new lawyers, so that saves space (mostly because my non-work interests are very, very boring – I read and watch TV and hang out with my family).

          1. Turanga Leela

            I’d like to hear other people’s perspective on this, but I do not recommend stripping out descriptions. Can you say what issues you worked on? There’s a big difference between saying “Drafted opinion in Ernie v. Bert” and saying “Researched and drafted memos and opinions in cases involving McDonnell Douglas burden-shifting and religious exceptions to employment law.” Check with your former supervisors and your judge—they might be okay with more content than you think.

            I was just reviewing resumes recently, and one candidate submitted the kind of bare-bones resume you described. It makes it hard to assess not only the candidate’s experience, but also her writing, since the resume normally gives me a chance to see how well people can explain things concisely.

            1. bridget

              Probably came back too late to say this, but for most of them I think they would just be too broad. As a state appellate court clerk for a year, I saw everything from municipal ballot issues to death penalty appeals, with a slew of general tort and contract issues thrown in. I suppose if I was applying for a very specific job, I would highlight a couple of cases/issues that would come up often, but so far my job search has been limited to OCI and a second clerkship.

              I do give some description with my attorney position, because my firm is large enough that I could do anything from estate planning to white-collar criminal defense. So, I specify that I do civil commercial litigation. I generally figure that my cover letter is the place to show that I can write, and lots of openings call for a writing sample as well.

              But, my strategy might not be transferable to others because as a general matter, I haven’t been applying to jobs cold, with just a resume. My former judge has set up interviews for me with his contacts, and then I follow up with a resume after he has already pitched me for the job. Because I have a strong/very helpful network, I haven’t been leaning on my resume as heavily as I otherwise might.

    2. Mpls

      Eh…I’m 7 years out of law school, with prior work experience and I fit all my stuff legibly on one page. I would work on consolidating the 1L/2L/clinic/journal/judicial internship stuff (basically, all the stuff you did while in school) – the legal job you have now is going to be more important than where you clerked 1L summer (unless that 1L gig is REALLY on point for the new job).

    3. Turanga Leela

      What Mpls said. I keep seeing legal resumes with many duplicative listings—if you list many research assistantships, it doesn’t tell me that much, and the important information gets lost. Don’t be afraid to leave off internships/externships, summer jobs, or clinics. You can also turn some of those into bullet points in your education section.

      When I read resumes, I look for your bar admission, current job, other post-graduation full-time jobs (including a judicial clerkship if you had one), journal/honors/publications, and anything impressive or interesting you did full-time before law school. (Pre-law school work or volunteering that’s relevant to the job can also go in your cover letter.) I’d also keep any summer gigs that are directly relevant to what you’re applying for, like if you interned for the DA’s office and you’re applying to be an ADA or public defender. If you have room, it’s nice to see substantive descriptions of the types of legal issues you worked on.

      1. Elysian

        Oh, putting my clinic as a bullet in my education section is a really good space-saving idea. My accomplishments for that are really outweighed by more recent things (now I can do what I did there 10 times over!). Maybe I can do that with my judicial internship, too (it was for credit, though I was trying to maximize it by putting it in my experience section since I haven’t done a clerkship.) It sounds like I am still early on enough that I should be keeping things to 1 page, and these are great suggestions for doing that! Thanks!

    4. ace

      I say one page until you’ve been practicing at least 5 years. I’m about 10 years out and only recently (with the blessing/encouragement of a headhunter) extended to two pages. I think you want one entry of pre-law stuff, the most of the law school stuff (clinic, publications, journal, honors, etc.) should be bullet points under law school anyway.

      Maybe a limited exception if you have a pre-law career directly relevant to your current work (e.g., you were a doctor/nurse and now litigate medical malpractice claims; you worked for 5 years as an engineer and are a patent bar certified litigator). Even then, 1.5 pp max.

  9. Ed

    I recently proof read a resume for a millennial friend of mine. He has been working for about 3 years, is applying for junior positions and his resume was 3 pages long. I told him it was way too long in general, it should probably be one page and gave him some suggestions of what to cut. He pushed back big time but finally agreed to cut it down to 2 jam-packed pages and refused to go any shorter. I gave up and was happy he at least cut a page.

    He is actually very talented but his resume was still over the top. He also used words like “expert” to describe himself which I told him to remove because a) it’s simply not true and b) those are terms found on a senior level resume (if that person has a healthy ego). If anything, I think he is at risk of seeming overqualified.

    1. BRR

      I think a lot of people currently feel it makes them a more attractive candidate (all ages) and younger people tend to now work more part-time jobs and have more internships. A couple of short-term positions eats up a lot of space.

      1. Midge

        This.

        During the year before I got my current full-time job I had five different part-time positions, all related to my field. I’ll be so happy the next time I apply for jobs when I can remove many of those part-time positions.

    2. Christy

      I wonder about that “expert” thing. I’ve been doing [task] for basically two years, and I’m legitimately the subject matter expert on staff. Am I *an* expert? I wouldn’t say so. But I’m definitely *the* expert.

      What definite an expert? What defines expert skills?

      1. jmkenrick

        Yes, this is so confusing. I once really undersold myself for a job because we had dramatically different ideas of what it meant to be ‘expert’ in some software. Turns out, I was more familiar with the programs than they were, so there bar was much lower than mine…but that’s so hard to establish outside of an actual conversation.

    3. Steve G

      I commend your effort, but it sounds like he didn’t let you do your job. I cringe at the word “expert” in certain circumstances (but not others), especially when people say they are expert in Excel or PowerPoint (unless they’ve been working in it for 15 years). I’ve been Excel non-stop for years, and even though I haven’t learned a new function in a while, I am always learning new ways to combine the existing functions to handle new situations. So I know more than a lot of people, but am still far from expert, even as the resident template building at past co.

      Also, I hate to be the jerk to nitpick other peoples’ comments, but this isn’t a millennial/non-millennial thing, this is simply someone not understanding resumes. Maybe I’m just oversensitive as an ’81-er who is tired of reading about millennial trends in the media that supposedly apply to me, but I can’t relate to a lot of them…….but I hope that one day people saying things like “I was talking to a millennial friend” will sound as ridiculous as “I was dealing with a boomer the other day….”

      1. jmkenrick

        Amen. There are literally world competitions for modeling in Excel. Honestly, very few positions actually need an Excel EXPERT. In my experience, they usually need someone who’s Excel literate & comfortable.

  10. Lisa

    I work for a marketing agency, I use the 3rd page to list every client I’ve ever worked with (35 or so). I group them by industry, and its often what is remarked upon when I get calls for interviews.

    1. Lily in NYC

      Oh good point. I think there’s wiggle room in creative fields and academia for the exact reason you mention.

    2. Steve G

      Is that a common thing to do in marketing? I had customer names on my resume briefly because I thought a little name dropping would help (since many of the largest, and thus most well-known buildings in NY were our customers), and also because it is probably well-known that certain customers are PITA to please……. but after a while I thought it would look weird if one of the customers saw that they were on my resume, or if a hiring manager found someone at those buildings who then parlayed a negative experience or two that was unrelated to me (or related to me but out of my control, such as a customer being paid less than we promised in our revenue share program because of their own bad performance in the program).

      1. Lisa

        Depends on how tiny your industry is, no one thinks like that though. The only time where you wouldn’t add them in my industry was if the client has a ND in place, even then if the agency publicly calls them a client then we all use it on our resumes

        1. Graciosa

          Ouch – I don’t think that’s what the clients necessarily want.

          When we grant permission for a supplier or service provider to identify us as a client, it is very specific (i.e, you may include our logo on a client slide in powerpoint presentations to clients in X category as long as the logo meets our corporate identity standards). It honestly never occurred to me that anyone would construe this to mean that our supplier’s employees were now free to use our name.

          Finding an example of the supplier’s employees using our name on a resume without permission would definitely cause problems in our relationship with that supplier.

  11. MBA

    I once applied to an internal job that required a certain number of years of applicable experience. Thinking I had to keep my resume to one page, I cut some work experience that I felt wasn’t applicable to the job (some retail work and some college stuff.) I still had just enough experience to apply to the job, so I felt comfortable cutting to stay on one page.

    A few weeks later, the HR director called me into her office and let me know that I wasn’t going to get the job because I “just didn’t have enough experience.” I understood that I was pretty new to the workforce and knew my experience wasn’t perfectly applicable so it made sense to me.

    That same week, they brought in an acquaintance of mine to interview for the same job. I knew he had way less experience than me (and didn’t have valuable internal knowledge that I had) and I couldn’t understand why he got an interview and I didn’t.

    After looking at his linkedin and seeing that he included a lot of random “experience” on his resume that mostly consisted of college club activities, I went straight to a friend in HR and asked why in the world I wasn’t considered when this other person was. Turns out that HR had a rule that any job done in college (which included a directly applicable internship I had completed) was counted as half time experience… all in all I had been 2(!!) months short of the required years of experience and that’s the ONLY reason my resume wasn’t passed on to the hiring manager. I asked if I could submit a new resume and they said yes.

    This time, I included every last scrap of experience I had – including all the retail jobs and the college research I had done. I easily filled two pages. I resubmitted, was interviewed, and immediately hired…. all because I included an extra page on my resume with completely inapplicable experience that I had done years back.

    Now, I’m a lot less shy to include 2 pages on my resume when I know I might be dealing with a similar company.

    1. Jillociraptor

      I worry about that too. I include an “other experience” section with older roles where I don’t have any accomplishments that aren’t repeated more recently just to demonstrate an additional 3ish years of experience. Most of the titles are, luckily, pretty self-explanatory for what they are. That might be an option.

  12. Brooke

    I’m a graphic designer with 15 years of experience and I keep to the one-page rule. It shows that I can organize information efficiently and plus, no one cares about jobs I had 10 years ago anyway.

    1. Treena Kravm

      Do you say in your profile “15 years experience”? I’m wondering how to illustrate that if you’re cutting the early parts of your career.

      1. Brooke

        Yep, it says it in my summary paragraph (which is just a couple lines) but really, my most recent couple jobs illustrate the level I’m at… and even more importantly, so does my portfolio.

    2. Koko

      Yes, I love this part of Alison’s answer off-site:
      “Some people argue that they need those extra pages as they advance in experience and have more to write about, but there’s no reason that your resume should be going into significant detail about things you did 15 or 20 years ago. Employers care most about what you’ve done recently.”

      I’ve found this to be incredibly true. When I was looking to advance out of my first job, it was an asset to describe a lot of my achievements that were exceptional for the level I was at–things that they might not otherwise realize I had experience doing. Now that I’ve worked many jobs in my field and have risen to a much higher level, it’s no longer adding much to my candidacy that I was something of a savant 8 years ago. With limited space, it’s more important to show that I’m still a savant now. (My rapid career progression to higher levels through multiple employers and with reasonable-length tenures/internal promotions also helps convey that I was excelling at the lower levels in order to move up so quickly, as assessed by multiple parties.) I stick to a few of the most key bullets for my early entry-level work but only go into a lot of detail about achievements from the last 2-3 jobs/5-8 years.

  13. Anonymous Educator

    Former classroom teacher here, and this reminds me a lot of students asking “How long should this paper be?” I experimented with being that obnoxious teacher who says “It should be as long as it needs to be to say everything you need to say and back it all up with examples,” but many students feel lost if you don’t give them some kind of guideline, so I would usually give them a page range.

    Based on what you’re saying (and based on my experience being involved in hiring), it’s just common sense, like an essay’s length. Say what you need to say, and keep in mind that your audience can get bored. If you don’t have a lot to say, don’t drag it out to five pages. If you do have a lot to say, don’t try to cram it into one page.

    When I’ve seen résumés that are longer than two pages, I usually either skim the extra pages or disregard them altogether.

    1. djx

      “It should be as long as it needs to be to say everything you need to say and back it all up with examples,”

      I always found this vague. I can write a quality paper at 5 pages and a quality paper at 15 pages, on the same topic, with the latter going into much greater detail.

      In the working world, decisions on length depend on the audience and the action I hope they take based on what I write: do they want detail for understanding or just the key points for action? What is their basis of knowledge? Do I have their attention already or do I need to get (and keep) there attention? What do I want them to do?

      In a classroom, those things are not clear to me at all, so I really would like teachers to give some suggestions on length.

      1. Anonymous Educator

        Are you a high school student? I didn’t have any students writing 15-page papers. Everything we did tended to be in the 1- to 6-page range, so it didn’t really matter if it was 3 page or 5 pages or 2 pages, as long as it was good. I would have taken a 7-page paper if it was good, but none of my students wrote 7-page papers. More importantly, when you start getting too specific with page requirements, students start getting really creative with margins and fonts. When you get too specific with word count, students just start filling up their papers with garbage fluff.

        1. jag

          No, high school was a long time ago for me.

          But while in high school I wrote a number of 8-10 pages papers and my longest paper was about 15 pages or- maybe a little more (double-spaced, normal fonts and margins). And in the class in which I wrote 15 pages many students wrote 20-25 page papers and a few wrote more than 30. The teacher wanted “thorough” explorations of the topic and said “write as much as it takes.” I had confidence I’d get a good enough grade for other reasons if I handed in the shortest paper in the class, but a lot of students did over 20 pages to show more work and, they believed, increase the odds of good grades. And while I know their papers were good, to this day I do not know if they needed to write that much to get good grades. That’s not right.

          “When you get too specific with word count, students just start filling up their papers with garbage fluff.” Yes, but people should be downgraded for garbage. You grade on quality of content within the parameters of the assignment. I really think it should be clear: the strongest 400 to 600 words (or whatever) get the best grade.

          1. Anomanom

            “the strongest 400 to 600 words (or whatever) get the best grade” Welcome to my MBA program haha. I feel like it was a two year crash course on making your point as clearly as possible in as few words a possible. “Here is a 10 page Harvard case, I’m going to need you to summarize it and provide your very specific response and action plan on these 5 questions. No more than 2 pages.”

            1. Not Myself Today

              I love this!

              I still struggle with getting my employees to edit. Part of this is trying to get lawyers to write for business – it’s a tough transition.

              I keep telling them an executive on business travel will not scroll his blackberry or smart phone to read your message. You have only one screen to make your point and get an answer.

          2. Koko

            I agree that it’s good to give a range but not make it a requirement. Teachers should emphasize brevity and concise writing – it’s a tragedy that most don’t, because in the working world nobody wants to read your long emails, and recent grads are the longest-winded email writers because they’re used to flowery prose meant to fill pages and pages to meet a word requirement.

            I think a good approach is to say, “Make sure you’ve completely answered the question, but strive to be concise without sacrificing quality. Most students need about 2-3 pages to do this. If you need to write more, go ahead, but really think about whether you can edit to be more concise. If you can answer the question in 1 page, go ahead, but make sure you’ve explained yourself fully and aren’t leaving anything out.”

            Students don’t necessarily need to be downgraded for being too long-winded, because it’s a soft skill they’re still learning, but they should still get that feedback: “A. Great understanding of concepts, but could have been more concise. Feel free to see me during office hours for editing suggestions.”

        2. Turanga Leela

          I had high school classmates who turned in 50-page papers! I thought they were nuts. I think my term papers were in the 10-20 page range.

  14. NickelandDime

    I’m liking these resume posts, as I’m in the process of redoing mine. I like to freshen things up every six months.

    I’ve been working in my industry for 16 years now. I feel like it’s time to delete my very first job, where I started as an intern and ended up full time for three years. Also, I think I want to delete some freelance work I did while I was laid off. It shows I did some things, but it wasn’t substantial and the dates of the layoff, while long (16 months), was smack dab in the middle of the worst recession ever. LOL. I feel if anyone questioned that, they might be someone I don’t want to work for. Thoughts on these changes?

  15. Dan

    My work is project based, and my resume reflects the projects where I have had significant roles. That means it gets a little long, but that’s because I’m trying to illustrate a pattern of significant contributions, not just a “one off.”

  16. Anx

    I know I commented on this subject recently, but I’m still having difficulty figuring out what employers would rather not read about for an entry level position. I’m in the situation where I’ve been working for over 10 years, but have yet to break into that full-time, permanent work world.

    I think the hard truth is that my one-page resume needs to be good enough to get an interview, and it’s just not. And that’s less of a reflection of my resume writing skills than reality; I don’t have 1-2 key internships and one or two part-time jobs that I’ve been at for a few years, all recent and relevant. I can’t change the past and I’m trying not to let it define my future, but it keeps creeping up.

    I know employers want to see more recent work experience, but most of my accomplishments (unrelated to current target jobs but full of soft skills) are over 5 years old. Cutting out a few shorter term jobs leaves huge gaps in my resume.

    I used a two page resume for my past two jobs, but I had had prior experience in those fields (more than 2 years, though all part-time). I kept my most relevant experience and degree on page 1, and used the second page to put the rest of my employment history and some skills. So the last page was probably pretty expendable, but it did give me a place to put my post-college jobs and internship, even if they weren’t that relevant.

  17. baseballfan

    A recruiter told me a couple of years ago that a good rule of thumb was one page per 10 years of experience. That made sense to me. Again, not a one size fits all, but I think it helps people focus on including only what’s relevant. Part of effective resume writing is knowing how to highlight important information and leave out fluff.

    At 21 years of experience and four “real” jobs, mine is about one and two thirds pages, which seems to fit this theory. The sections on the jobs I had in the 1990s are shorter, as they should be.

  18. Snarkus Aurelius

    In 2006, I dated a guy who had a one page resume.  He was an attorney and had been out of college for ten years.  His font size was 8, and the margins were down to 0.12 of an inch.  I’m not kidding.

    If you don’t know what that looks like, and there’s no reason the average person would, go try all that out in Word.

    He said that some person in his college’s career office told him that anything longer than a page would get your resume trashed.  He refused (and I mean REFUSED) to budge on that issue and many other things, which lead to me learning he was a jerk on a myriad of levels.

    On a related note, the only work he could find (when I knew him) as a lawyer was working for two law firms that advertised on late night cable.  No kidding.

  19. Julie

    My resume is two pages, though admittedly the second page is mostly education and volunteer / extracurricular experience. I’ve been out of school for about ten years, but the majority of my work history has been relatively short-term (3-12 month) contract work, so I’ve got six positions listed. Once you add a few bullet points for each item, it starts adding up pretty fast. Thank goodness the “1 page and no longer” rule has expanded to two pages.

    1. Lily in NYC

      What do you mean by extracurricular experience? I would think twice about listing your hobbies (if that’s what you are referring to).

      1. Julie

        Not hobbies. More like positions I’ve held in volunteer organizations and clubs while I was in school. Things like “club president,” “forum moderator,” “volunteer organization officer,” “columnist in a volunteer society’s newsletter,” “workshop leader,” etc.

        None of these count as work experience, but I feel they should go *somewhere.*

      2. Julie

        Note: I realize that based on the way I phased it above, it reads like this is all experience I had while I was in school, which is not the case. I continue to be active in volunteer societies today.

  20. paddlepickle

    Mine is currently one page, but I’m starting a new job and I think that will put me over the edge so I need two. Does it look weird for a resume to be one page and a quarter? IE– should I put back some stuff that I’ve been leaving out to make it a full two pages or page and a half, or just include the new job?

  21. Chris Rueber

    I’m 10+ years in to a software engineering career that I take seriously. My resume is 2 sheets (printed front and back) long. That said, the first of those ‘four’ pages is an executive summary, not found on most resumes. One could almost call this my ‘sell sheet’. It includes what my technical skills are, who I am, what I’m about, and where to find my digital footprint. If they don’t really want to read the whole thing, they can stop there, and I would feel strongly that I’ve been represented well. It also leads them to my personal work online. I see the rest of the resume as supporting information for that summary, and as I’ve been in my career for long enough to have a fair list of experience, anything that I add to my experience, means something else gets condensed or falls off. If they have questions about anything not there or that is condensed, well hey, that’s what an interview is for!

    In my view, any sufficiently senior technical position really does need more than a single sheet, and definitely more than a page. If you’re telling me that you should be considered for a position that is anything but entry level, I want to know why. One page isn’t going to cut it. At least, I’ve yet to see one that will in the software engineering field. At least not in the traditional sense. I’d rather see who they are and what they can do from their digital footprint.

    To be fair, the technical side of the world does tend to have different rules than the business side, and software even more so. I definitely don’t think that the “one sheet” rule is a one size fits all rule. I don’t think it ever was. Not for technical positions.

    1. Development professional

      This seems to be A Thing in tech, and I would almost think of it more like a combined resume and portfolio than a straight up resume.

      1. Chris Rueber

        Agreed. Technology positions are represented very differently than business positions. Which is why I think that the ‘one page’ resume isn’t a ‘one size’ solution, or even a ‘one size fits most’ solution. I consider the persons resume to be an artifact of the person as represented by a particular set of career choices.

  22. Charlotte

    I’d be curious to see what you think about a third page for relevant publications. I’m a freelancer writer and have been published on many topics related to my field, higher education. I edit this list everytime to make the articles relevant to the job I’m applying for. This list is just a fraction of my entire bibliography. The jobs I’m applying for are in education. Sending clips or a portfolio would be a different story if I was applying to a journalism job, for instance.

  23. Chris L

    I’m a 24 year old grad school student right now in the digital marketing field. I have an entry level digital marketing assistant job at a marketing agency right now, but I’m looking to move up soon. My resume is two pages long with my first page showing my jobs/internships/education/skills, and my second page has volunteer experience/interests/writing samples/program & tools. Should I cut out the interests section and volunteer section? The volunteer position was only for 3 months several years ago and under my interests it only lists my athletic career in college.

    Thanks!

    1. Graciosa

      Yes, absolutely unless it has a very direct correlation to the job you’re applying for (i.e., list volunteer work in the field when applying to work at a lobbyist in that field).

      You’re the classic example of someone who would absolutely have a stronger resume with one clear, concise, relevant page.

      If it helps, think of this as a marketing document for a client who has limited space – show prospective employers that you can make the best possible use of that space.

      1. Chris L

        Thanks for the response Graciosa, you have some great points. Should I remove my writing samples section? They’re links to previous blog posts I’ve written. I also manage social media, is it too obvious to list all the social media platforms I know as a digital marketer? I’m not sure if this is just wasted space or not.

        Thanks!

  24. Soharaz

    I’ve been in the UK for 3 years (US expat) and held two office jobs here. I always see this caveat that European CVs are longer/different from US resumes, but in my experience they’ve been the same (two pages, same kinds of information, etc). Is this a UK v Continent thing? Am I just doing CVs wrong? Can CV ever just be a different word for resume?

    1. JAM

      I’m a hiring manager in the UK and I think a one-pager would look a little odd here, 2-4 is the norm. I have seen much longer CVs from mainland Europe, including an 11 pager (I interviewed that candidate and he was just as long-winded in person, plus decided it was totally OK for him to ignore the pre-interview task that was set and make up his own). Ultimately I don’t care how long it is, just as long as its not so boring it makes me want to die!

    2. Rachel

      Belated comment, but I’ve understood that what Europe calls a CV, the US calls a resume, but what the US calls a CV, Europe also calls a CV. So the terminology feeds into the general confusion.

  25. Purr purr purr

    I think it probably depends on where you are and the type of job you have. My CV is two pages long but due to my industry and work history, I’ve had to work hard to scrunch it down that far. My Dad’s is far worse: over 40 years experience as a contractor working on hugely varied projects!

Comments are closed.