By | Angela Smith, MBA | www.themuse.com
“How long should my resume be?”
Between my experience as a career coach and running a college career services department, this is a question I’ve heard a lot. And as a recruiter, I’ve seen resumes that run the gamut in terms of scope—from a simple Word document with just a few lines to a full-on multimedia package including video and audio.
Many people will say that a resume ought to be a single page—that this is an incontrovertible fact of resume writing. But the reality is more nuanced than that. There’s no single correct answer because it’s entirely dependent upon your experience, background, and the types of roles you’re applying for right now.
It’s a dated myth that you have to stick to one page no matter how many years of experience you have or what the situation is. Conversely, there’s absolutely no reason you need a resume that is pages upon pages long, detailing every single experience you’ve ever had. Like a lot of things, the truth is somewhere in the middle.
Here’s what I’ve seen work best for different job seekers.
A one-page resume is ideal when you want to be succinct and get your point across quickly. The most common instances of using a one-page resume effectively arise when:
You’re a New Grad or Early in Your Career
If you’re a new graduate looking for your first professional job or you don’t have a lot of professional experience (say, less than five to eight years), the reality is that there likely just isn’t enough information or experience to warrant a longer resume.
For example, let’s say Jane just received her BA in marketing and is looking for her first post-college job. She had a few part-time positions while in school, and completed a few relevant internships. But she doesn’t yet have much professional experience working in her field. In this case, I’d recommend that Jane focus her resume on her relevant academic work and internships. And she could stick to the one-page resume even once she’s been working in marketing for four or five years. She can start to build out her professional experience section, including examples of accomplishments and projects she’s worked on. In order to make room for some of this new information, she’d remove internships, extracurricular activities, or even earlier or less relevant entry-level positions if she’s held several roles by now.