How Long Should Your Resume Be in 2021?

The length of your resume is one of the more important aspects of the job search process.  Notice I say more important thing because the most important thing should always be NETWORKING.  But anyway, let’s throw networking out the window for the time being and focus on resumes, everyone’s favorite thing.  Many job seekers worry that their resume is too long or too short and pull their hair out trying to figure out the perfect length.

job applicant passing her documents

The answer to how long should my resume be question actually is, it depends.  (Which I know is everyone’s favorite answer).  Believe it or not, depending on where you are in your career and in life will help to dictate how long your resume should be.  Notice I use the word should because as with a lot of things there are exceptions to the rule.  Has someone with a 5 page resume gotten the job they wanted at some point in the history of the world?  I’d probably take a gamble and say yes because with billions of people on earth, the probability is high so I’ll take those odds.  (Although I struggle to hit red or black on roulette so my gambling history isn’t great). 

Anyway, take a look below to see the resume length and where your situation fits in:

The One Page Resume

-You are a college graduate

-You were a stay-at-home mom with little work experience

-You have been at the same company your whole career

These are just a couple of examples of when you should think about using a one page resume.  The most obvious is if you are a college graduate with maybe some internship experience and one or two real jobs.  Since most employers aren’t very concerned with what you did in high school once you graduate college, it’s important to keep in mind that you should just include your college work and internship experience.  If you were a college all-star and had 1000 internships and relevant jobs then maybe you can be the exception and do two pages, but for the most part, keep it to one college kids.

woman filling job application form in office with boss

Some other categories where you should keep it to one page is if you were a stay-at-home mom with little work experience, or if you have been at the same job for most of your career and don’t have a tremendous amount of other experiences.  IN these cases, it’s important to fill up that page and if you feel you have enough information to get to two that’s great, but you don’t want to have size 20 font and keep repeating the same thing over and over.  You want to demonstrate your experiences and show you have the relevant skills, but you don’t need to go into great detail about how you ran the soccer team carpool (well unless you’re applying to be a bus driver).

The Two Page Resume

This is the most standard resume format for a job seeker of mostly any age (minus college kids, sorry college kids) and experience level.  It’s important to have a two page resume because you want to be able to elaborate on your experiences and skills as well as educational information and awards (if applicable).  This also allows for you to include a decent amount of keywords (we can get into that in another post) and show the potential employer that you have a solid amount of experience.  A two page resume should be in a Word Document format for when you are submitting it online and if you want to make a prettier formatted pdf for when you go on interviews to hand to someone (make sure you wash those hands before you do that too) then by all means go for it.

crop black job candidate passing resume to hr employee

The Three Page Resume

-Technical Roles

-High Level Executive Roles

Now, if you feel as though you just can’t fit everything on to two pages and need to go three pages, that’s fine, it’s not the norm, but it can be done.  Keep in mind, as a rule of thumb, you want to keep your resume up to date with about your last decade’s worth of experience in your resume.  This doesn’t mean you should only keep it to ten years, but if you’ve had a bunch of jobs over the past 15 years, try and keep it to the most recent in the past decade.  If you’re someone who is applying for a technical role, you may need extreme detail on your skills and experiences so going to three pages in this case is fine.  Additionally, if you are a high level executive looking for a high level executive job, three pages may be necessary as well.  The point is, don’t just do three pages because you feel like it or you’re trying to fill up your resume with 1000 keywords and phrases so you figure why not do six pages.  Anything over two pages should have a good resume for being long, because if you think that a human is going to look at your three or four page resume just for the fun of it, you may need to rethink your approach to your resume.

Again, rules are meant to be broken right?  So if you feel as though you fall outside of these categories and you are a 20 year workforce veteran and only want a one page resume, or you are a college kid who wants a three page resume I say go for it.  Just be aware that you are going outside of the traditional guidelines and you are taking a risk.  But hey, sometimes risks can pay off, especially when you bet it all on one hand of blackjack and actually win.

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