How many pages is a resume?
A resume should be two to three pages long, generally. While there are exceptions to this rule, it is widely recognized that they should never exceed this limit unless specifically asked to.
That said, the length of a resume is primarily dictated by the level of experience you possess, which can be categorized into 3 major brackets:
- 0-5 years of experience - 1 page resume
- 6-10 years of experience - 2 page resume
- 11+ years of experience - 2/3 page resume
0-5 years of experience - 1 page resume
As a fresher or entry-level executive, you have neither a wealth of experience nor a long list of skills and professional achievements.
Extracurricular achievements and side projects, which make up the bulk of your resume, serve as differentiators at best; hence, they need not be listed in detail.
Only as you approach 4-5 years of experience does your resume warrant even the thought of expanding to more than a page.
That too if you’ve managed to handle multiple roles within the organization(s) and had an extraordinary amount of work and responsibility handed over to you.
6-10 years of experience - 2 page resume
With an increase in seniority, your resume can extend to upto 2 pages.
By now, you would’ve gained plenty of work experience and managed several roles and responsibilities.
Since these will be relatively fresh and recent, they can be explicated in detail to provide a better understanding of the variety of skills you have developed and knowledge you have obtained after working in your domain.
If you belong to this category, you can apply to senior technical and entry- or mid-managerial positions, both of which require a diverse set of competencies, and your resume needs to be detailed enough to reflect that!
11+ years of experience - 2/3 page resume
If you fall under this bracket, you’re officially a veteran of the industry.
The myriad roles and responsibilities you’ve managed need a resume that’s a minimum of 2 pages, and could easily exceed it too. To effectively demonstrate your extensive professional expertise and wide repertoire of technical, managerial and interpersonal skills, a 2-pager is a must.
If you have 15-20+ years of experience, and are aiming for a very senior or CXO-level position, a three-pager would be recommended as your resume will undergo extensive screening.
Recruiters will try to gauge not just your fit for the role, but the company as a whole too! Keep in mind, however, the fact that your resume should not go back more than 15-20 years.
Why is resume length restricted?
There is no hard-and-fast rule that one cannot have a 5 or even 10 page resume; these restrictions are essentially tips based on research that has been proven several times - crisp resumes upto 3 pages long have the highest chance of being selected.
In fact, this research analyzed 6000+ applications to identify the sweet spot for the word count - resumes ranging from 475 to 600 words had the highest chances of landing an interview. In certain fields such as in business, they found that long resumes (exceeding 600 words) were 72% less hireable than those in the sweet spot.
Furthermore, a quick glance reveals that “successful” adults read at 250-300 words per minute. When you take into account that the average time spent perusing a resume maxes out at 30 seconds, it effectively means recruiters read a maximum of roughly 125-150 words of your resume during initial screenings; it also means that 125-150 words are all you have to impress them.
Additionally, they scan 4 main categories:
- Job titles
- Companies you worked at
- Start/end dates
Thus, deep-diving into any other sections is redundant. It seems the less is more adage applies to resumes too - as long as you don’t miss out on the important and relevant info.
Are there any exceptions to this rule?
if you’re an academic or industrial scientist, college professor, school teacher, or social service worker you’re probably wondering how you could possibly fit all your work and/or publications within such a short resume.
Fear not, this rule doesn’t apply to you! In fact, in these professions a longer resume is a sign of success - the more patents, research papers, charitable drives, etc. you have done, the better, and each needs to be documented for appraisal.
TL;DR - The ideal resume is up to two to three pages long. The length is determined by your experience level - for those with 0-5 years work ex, 1 page is enough. For those with 6-10 years of work ex, a two-pager suffices. Only those with work ex of 10+ years should go for a three-pager. However, if you’re in the science, education or social service sectors, the longer your resume, the better.