A resume is like the copy on the back cover of a book, designed to make you want to read the book. A resume is a formal document that provides an overview of your professional qualifications, including your relevant work experience, skills, education, and notable accomplishments. A resume can be 2 pages to show your career progression.
Usually paired with a cover letter, a resume helps you demonstrate your abilities and convince employers you’re qualified and hireable.
In many European countries, CV is used to describe all job application documents, including a resume. In the United States and Canada, CV and resume are sometimes used interchangeably.
Here are the topics this post covers:
- When should your resume be one page?
- When should your resume be two pages?
- When should your resume be three pages–or more?
- How to get your resume to the right length (10 tips)
Before we go direct to these topics, let me explain some very important things you need to know.
Too many people make the mistake of thinking that a resume’s purpose is to get them a job. Actually, resumes open and close doors. The main purpose of making resume is to make an employer interested enough to invite you in for an interview. As such, knowing which resume format will work best in your favor is key to your success.
So it’s best to make sure you’re using the right resume format that is chronological or functional resume.
Chronological resume usually contains an objective and/or career summary statement and a chronological listing (from most recent to past) of all your employers along with related accomplishments. Educational information is included along with certifications and special skills.
This type of resume format may be fine for someone who is experienced, but if you are switching careers or are just entering the workforce, this type of resume will most likely help you wind up in the “no” pile.
Functional resumes highlight your abilities, such as hiring, managing or coaching, rather than your chronological work history. You’ll still need to summarize your work history, but this is usually done at the bottom of your resume.
A functional resume format is particularly useful for people who:
- Have gaps in their work history.
- Are reentering the workforce.
- Have frequently changed jobs.
- Are looking to transition into new careers.
- Don’t exactly fit the mold of what recruiters are looking for in the positions they want.
The reason functional resumes work well in these situations is that many of us have acquired skills while working that are very transferable. For example, if you have worked as a retail manager, chances are you were responsible for hiring, training, coaching, evaluating and handling employee relations issues.
The one-page resume is ideal for entry-level workers, new college graduates, and those who have a few years of work experience, Yang says. Additionally, you should consider a one-page resume if you’re looking to make a career change and don’t have much experience relevant to your new goal.
It doesn’t mean you have to cram all of your experience on one page with a teeny tiny font that you need a magnifying glass to read. Readability and overall presentation need to be factored in, too. Two pages are the standard length in 2021 to fit all your keywords, work history, experience, and skills on your resume.
Your resume will most likely need two pages to show your career progression. If you have more than 10 years of experience, you’ll also want to include a professional summary and possibly a career highlights section.
Can a resume be 2 pages?
This has been an age-old debate. If your resume is too short or skimpy, recruiters and hiring managers will think you don’t have a lot to bring to the table. Also, if your resume is too long and bloated, readers will likely get bored or annoyed.
Your middle ground for writing your resume helps you determine if your resume should be one or two (or more) pages long. The quicker you can get to the point, the better. Hiring managers are busy people, sometimes having to sort through hundreds of applications. You get about six seconds of their attention when they’re making their initial fit-or-no-fit decision.
Most resume reviewers would rather read a well-laid-out, easy-to-skim, two-page resume than a one-page resume that jams too much information on the page.
A two-page resume makes sense for many job seekers, especially those who are further along in their career, with 10 or more years of relevant job experience. The extra page may be needed to convey all of the critical information an employer needs to know. Keep in mind, however, that the second page likely won’t get as much attention as the first, so it’s best to make sure you’re using the right resume format.
Three (or more)-page resume
Most people believe resumes should fit on two pages max, no matter how long you’ve been working.
For example, if you work for the federal government; you’re a senior-level manager with a long track record of accomplishments; or you’re writing an academic CV for a research or scientific position and have an extensive list of publications, speaking engagements, professional courses, licenses, or certifications; then you may need to extend your resume to three or more pages.
The length of resume doesn’t matter quite as much as the content filling the pages. If you can capture your qualifications on one page, great. But if it takes two pages or more, that’s OK, too. Just remember that your resume should be a high-level look at your accomplishments that entices the hiring manager to want to learn more.
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