“How many pages should I include in my resume?” is definitely a tricky question. Nobody has been able to bring a definite response to it, probably because there is no right or wrong answer. Some experts still recommend the classical 1-page resume, arguing that a 2-page resume could harm your chances of a job interview. Others claim that it is entirely acceptable to send a resume that contains 2 pages or more.
The extension of your resume depends on a number of factors, such as your field of work, the position you apply for, or your amount of experience. Therefore, you need to adapt your resume to the position you seek and to the requirements of the job advertisement. In this article, we will remove your doubts by explaining in which cases you should use a 1, 2, or 3-page resume. Each format obviously has its advantages and drawbacks. However, always remember that the most important aspect of your resume is not its length but its relevance. If every element of your resume is significant, then it doesn’t matter if it is one, two, or three pages long.
1 Page: The Standard Format
The obligation to send a one-page resume is a myth we have to debunk. Indeed, this idea is probably linked to the fact that most recruiters spend less than 10 seconds reviewing a resume and deciding if it should proceed to the next step. Nonetheless, those same recruiters will need further and complete information about your career and achievements once they have decided you are a worthy candidate. In this case, a 2-page resume can do no harm.
Let’s take into consideration the different scenarios when a 1-page resume is advisable:
- Let’s start with the obvious: your industry or the job ad requires or recommends a single-page resume.
- You are writing your first resume. You are new to the labor market and are applying to your first job. Whether it is a summer or a student job, you will probably not need a longer resume.
- You are a recent graduate and are applying to your first job after finishing your studies. These entry-level resumes can be tricky to write, especially if you have no work experience relevant to the position. Remember however to mention your class projects and internships.
- You have fewer than 10 years of experience in the field. In this case, you should be able to make it fit on one page.
- You are changing careers and therefore don’t have any experience that you can transfer to your new area. You should however mention briefly your previous experiences and focus on the qualities that could be useful in your new profession.
2 Pages: Show Your Experience
The 2-page resume seems to be more and more popular. One of the main reasons is the number and variety of work experience people tend to have. In a fast-changing society, candidates accumulate a wider and more diverse experience than before. Recent studies have shown that recruiters are willing to spend a bit more time reading 2-page resumes and that they actually tend to prefer them. Most applicants could actually benefit from this format. Let’s see in detail which candidates should send a 2-page resume.
- You possess more than 10 years of experience related to the position you apply for.
- All your relevant skills, keywords, work history and achievements take up at least a page and a half. In this case, deleting any information that could help you land the job interview is not recommended.
- If you apply for a position in management or in a leadership role, you should definitely show your experience and skills in detail, and it usually cannot fit on a single page.
- When applying for a position that requires listing a lot of technical skills or certifications, 2 pages will help you present all your abilities.
- You are a recent graduate who gathered much experience during your studies. In case you had contact with the professional world during the course of your studies, you can mention everything over 2 pages. For instance, your internships, group projects, volunteer work, free-lance or contract jobs are all worth mentioning.
3 Pages Or More: For Special Cases Only
Most hiring process experts strongly advise against 3-page resumes, as they can impede a quick and efficient reading by recruiters. Nonetheless, specific job applications require you to give a precise and thorough account of all your work experiences, skills, and achievements.
Needless to say, these longer formats work only for applicants with vast experience. For instance, senior executives who have more than 20 years in the same field of work or who have had numerous positions with many qualifications and achievements, can display over a 3-page resume.
Let’s have a look at other specific cases in which 3 pages could be necessary:
- You are applying for a job in the state or federal government. You will generally be asked to detail all your experiences, even when they are not relevant to the position. It is part of the government background check.
- You are applying for a position in academia and you need to list all your publications, lectures or courses.
- You search for a position in a specialized scientific field. In this case, you may be asked to list your technical expertise, case studies, projects licenses and patents.
- Craftspeople, artists, designers and other creative professionals can include a portfolio to their resume to show what they can actually do. Remember a portfolio is not a part of your resume in itself but a complement. Many applicants prefer to include a link to their digital portfolio website.
The longer versions of resumes are referred to as curriculum vitae (CV) and they can be several pages long. The job ad will generally mention it if you need to send one. They are very common when you apply for a teaching or research position.