Resume length – does it matter?

by Rich DeMatteo on July 13, 2009 · 3 comments

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The most frequently asked question about resumes that I receive is, “how long should it be?”  If you put in some time to research the topic, you’ll easily stumble on certain suggested guidelines on resume length.  For years everyone was told to keep their resumes to one page – no more!  Makes you shriek doesn’t it?  Of course it does!  How would Johnny Smith fit 16 years of advertising sales experience into a one page resume?  Johnny wouldn’t be able to.  These ideas have changed recently.  Today, some people believe after 4-5 y ears of experience you can have two pages of information, while others think the required years of experience to warrant two pages would be 8-10 years of related job experience.  I’m still shrieking.  Forget that nonsense, just follow my guidelines below:

Career marketing tool, not autobiography – Up until you are contacted by the recruiter, your resume is your largest selling point.  Every word HAS to sell what you can do for the organization.  Anything that doesn’t convince them of your knowledge, skills, or abilities is to be taken out.  Now!

Content is critical – Information should be relevant to your career.  Once you’ve reached a few years of work experience, take out the high school or college part time jobs.  If still relevant, keep them in, but make sure they sell you to the reader.  Leave in leadership positions, club memberships, education,and  certifications/publications.  Take out all personal information including age, martial status, number of children, health, and political/religious affiliations.

Keep a clean format – A neat looking, clean resume will do wonders for the recruiter/hiring managers eyes.  If it flows nicely, than your selling points and critical content will be easily found, and your chances of receiving a phone call increase greatly.  Close to 95% of the time, resumes are read electronically.  If the resume has an overall easy to read format, the recruiter/hiring manager won’t mind scrolling and clicking through 2, 3, 4, or more pages online.  However, two pages from a sloppy, poorly written resume will feel like reading Lord of the Rings, painfully long!

The guidelines above will keep your resume to the right length.  We all have different work experiences, education, and various other important activities, so it’s unfair to insist each job seeker keeps their resume to a certain page.  Just keep it clean, put in career relevant information, and sell the hell out of yourself and you’ll be just fine.

If you’re still worried, meet up with a friend and ask them to read it.  Keep sight of how many times your friend yawns.  Less than two yawns and you’ve got yourself a nice resume.  Now, if your friend starts snoring, it’s time to make some edits.  Good luck friends.

If you need further help with your resume, you can email me at

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