How Long Should My Resume Be?
Job seekers with long careers tend to have had . . . long careers. When they are ready to write their resumes, they want to include the best and the greatest experience. Instead, they choose to start with their very first job, making their resume span multiple decades. The result is a long, directionless document. Read on for tips to choose the optimal length for your resume.
Resume Length for Individual Contributors
Overall, the length of your resume should be based on the depth of your own experience. If you are an individual contributor, promoting in depth the last 10 years or so of your professional experience is sufficient. You can show growth and progression in your career in that amount of time. A good rule of thumb for page length stipulates that two pages should be sufficient. In rare cases, such as one in which your last 10 years of work was with the same organization, one page will support your entire career history.
Resume Length for Managers
As you grew from the level of an individual contributor to a leadership position, the flavor of your professional contribution changed. If you are seeking another management-level position, you might want to balance the 10-year rule of thumb with the titles you’ve recently held. To brand yourself effectively according to your most recent titles, you might choose to focus in depth only on the last 8 years–or perhaps the last 15. Generally speaking, you should avoid highlighting lower-level positions that don’t support your future goals, except to the extent that they provided you the platform and the technical experience to launch your management career.
Resume Length for Executives
If you are an executive, you might want to balance the 10-year rule of thumb with the types of titles you have had as well. If you’re a president now, and over the last 15 years, your titles were vice president, vice president, senior director, and director, you might choose to focus on your president and vice president roles in depth, relegating your earlier and lower-level experience to a smaller proportion of the available resume real estate. Generally, the optimal length of your resume should be 2 to 3 full pages.
These tips touch on some of my best strategies for identifying the right length for a job seeker’s resume. I say that the right length for your executive resume is as long as it takes to successfully describe your career accomplishments so that your future hiring executive completely understands why you’re the right candidate.
If you have questions on the subtleties of your own unique experiences, your executive resume writer can help.
“How do I know whether my executive resume is too long? Too short? What should I put in my executive resume, anyway?”
Ask Amy L. Adler, Executive Resume Writer and Career Coach.