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Tune Up Your Resume – Part 3

One of the questions I’m frequently asked as a hiring manager concerns the proper length for a resume.  Many people are under the impression that the longer your resume, the better.  I’ve even seen advice floating around that recommends one page in length for every five years of experience, or one page for every employer, or…on and on.

While everyone’s situation is different as far as number of years of experience, education, skills, etc, there is one simple statement that I can give you about resume length: shorter is almost always better.

I know this sounds counter intuitive, but as I’ve said many times, you have less than 30 seconds to capture the hiring manager’s interest with your resume.  A tightly written, well organized resume that takes advantage of every word will stand a much higher chance of doing that.

Here’s the hard cold fact: If you haven’t convinced me that you’re a great candidate on the very first page of your resume, I probably won’t read any further.  And even if you have convinced me, if I have to continue reading an additional three or four pages I’m going to start having doubts.

I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve received resumes that are multiple pages in length, rambling on to three, four, five pages or more.  In today’s tough job market, where ’m reviewing 40 or 50 resumes for each opening I have, I simply cringe when I come across resumes like this.

If you’ve read my advice on other posts, you know that you must tailor your resume for each job to which you apply.  This means that, among other things, you must stress experience and skills that are specific to that job and leave out those that are not.  If you’ve done this, your resume will likely already be tight and focused.  And brief!

And by brief, I mean one or, at the most, two pages.  Here are some guidelines:
•     If you’ve had three prior employers or less, keep your resume to one page.
•    If you’ve had more than three employers, or your particular field requires detailed skills that need a longer resume to list, make your resume two pages (but no more).

Even if you have 20 or 30 years of experience, you shouldn’t be going back more than 10 or 15 years, which you can easily do in two pages.

Please believe me when I tell you that a tightly written, very focused two page resume stands a much better chance of getting you considered than a five page novel documenting every detail of your career.   This is particularly true because you should also have a killer cover letter with your resume.   But that’s a topic for another post.

Read Part 4 of Tune Up Your Resume

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