Resumes 101 – How Many Pages Should a Resume Be?

Resumes 101 – How Many Pages Should a Resume Be?

There's a lot that goes into a resume, and because of that, some resumes tend to get a bit out of control when it comes to how long they are.

How many pages should a resume be? While there are no exact rules out there on how long a resume needs to be (or how short), you do want to consider at what length a potential employer is going to want to read your info.

Some businesses will just toss a lengthy resume in the trash, instead of reading it. Your resume needs to be only two or three pages long. It shouldn't surpass that, and if it does, you risk a potential employer throwing it away.

What Is a Resume?
And, How Many Pages Should a Resume Be?

The concept of a resume is to summarize your information pertaining to your work history, your education, any credentials or accomplishments you have, as well as specialized skills – all pertaining to a career path you want to take. Sometimes your resume will also include a summary statement that describes your career in a few short sentences and an objective which describes what you're looking for with this resume, though these last to aren't always required anymore.

You want your resume to be easy and quick to read, which will factor into how many pages your resume should be, but you also want it to get the point across. That means listing the job experiences that are fitting to the particular position you are applying to, as well as information about what you did at those jobs (that, again, pertains to the position you're looking to fill now).

You will list your work and educational experiences in chronological order, beginning with the most recent. There are some different formats, depending on the job you're applying to. In general, you want these couple sheets of paper to tell people why you're perfect for the job with enough left out to give them the intrigue they need to call you in for an interview.

Do You Need a CV or a Resume?

man thinking

Depending on the type of work you're looking for, you may see the term CV used instead of a resume. A CV is short for curriculum vitae. These CVs don't need to be short like a resume, so they give you some extra leeway when it comes to covering all of your past experience. Aside from length, there are other differences between a CV and a resume.

CVs include the same info as a resume, but more of it. You won't just include your job and education experience, but also teaching experience, awards you've earned, publications you've been printed in, affiliations you have, and research you've done. This is a “resume” used in academia, most often, but is becoming popular in some contract work (if you're a professional or freelance writer you may see the term often while gig hunting online).

This resume alternative will still include a summary of your experiences, as well as a list of skills. You may also be requested to first turn in a curriculum vitae summary, which is a one or two-page version of your CV that gives a concise overview of your qualifications for the job you're applying to and your specific skills.

Should You Use a CV?

Normally you won't use a CV unless one is specifically requested from you since it is something that isn't very common in the United States (although it is growing more common). However, CVs are used more often than resumes in other countries. If you're applying for a job in medicine or in a college setting, a CV is a must.

CVs are also used when applying for grants and fellowships, as a way to show the people considering giving you money what work you've done and will be doing when it comes to using those funds.

Tips for Designing Your Resume

seal of experience

You can use these same tips for creating a CV, just be less brief and cover more ground in what you share.

How many pages should a resume be? With a resume, two pages is a good place to aim for. Anything longer and your potential employer will be less likely to read it unless you have some really awesome and eye-catching information within.

1. Length

One, two, or three pages? While the average length should be two pages, there are times when it may be only one page and times when pushing three pages is fine. It depends on what type of training and work experience you have for the job you're applying to. If you have years of experience in a particular field and all of your experience will assist in scoring the job, include it (but keep it to three pages).

If you're just getting your employment start in the working world, your resume will be short. You want to make it at least a page long, or you may end up in the circular file. If you don't have previous employment experience to include, fill the page with education info and volunteer experience.

2. Keep It Relevant

One way to keep your resume short is to be concise and relevant. If you're trying to get work in a specific field, your resume needs to be tailored to that field – meaning you don't want your retail experience as a teenager on your resume to be a teacher.

You may have more than one resume if you're looking for work in multiple fields.

3. Font, Spacing, Style, and Margins

There are things that you can do in order to make your resume appear smaller, but you also want to make sure it is still easily readable. Font choice and size can make a big difference on how much space the writing on your resume takes up – but you want to make sure you use a general font, not something fancy. Fancy fonts are distracting and can sometimes be hard to read.

If you start with a 12-point font and your resume seems to be a little too long, try taking it down to an 11. Make sure that your headlines are a little bit larger, or maybe bold, so they stand out – the same with your name at the top of the page.

How many spaces you put between sections may drag your resume on more, and you don't have to have double spaces anywhere. If you are using bolding and different font sizes, spaces won't even be that noticeable. If bold seems to be taking up too much space, try italicizing instead, as it takes less space.

While you don't want less than half-inch margins around your page, you can free up some room by shrinking margins. All of these style tactics work together to make your resume look good and fit into a smaller amount of space, like two pages instead of three.

4. Keep It Organized

Aside from size, the other thing that is important for a noticeable and well-created resume is how you’ve organized it.

Your resume should be organized so that it is easy to read and everything is labeled clearly. No one should question what your summary is, where your education information is, as well as what's your actual work experience. Don't leave a bunch of white space, keep things centered on top, and don't use fancy font colors.

A Few Resume Dont's

Smiling young businessman looking at manager with clipboard at job interview, business concept

Your resume needs to impress potential employers. To do that, you need to make it look good. Looking good is about more than just about the right font and the right number of pages.

  • Don't use colored fonts Stick with black. It's formal and easy to read.
  • Don't use fancy paper You can use resume paper, but don't use something with designs or bright colors.
  • Don't use a cursive font  Cursive fonts are difficult to read.
  • Don't stuff itIf you think your resume is lacking, don't stuff it with things that aren't pertinent to the job you're applying to.
  • Don't lie Never lie on your resume. Don't embellish either. Only include facts that you can back up with proof (you'll always get caught in the lies at some point).

Make Your Resume Your Own

When it comes to how many pages should a resume be, as you can see, what matters is the job you're trying to get. At a minimum, your resume should be at least a full-page long, and never any less than that.

Make sure that your resume does a good job of reflecting who you are, your accomplishments, and your career goals – without being more than three pages in length.

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