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How Long Should Your Résumé Be?
Résumés are a subject of great debate in the career world. What to include, what not to include; serif or sans serif font; what color paper; which jobs to highlight? And, more commonly in today's job market, how long should the résumé be? Does it matter?
We asked résumé experts for their take on whether job seekers should use a one- or two-page résumé and why it matters. Here's what they had to say:
The argument: One page
"Many people feel that a longer résumé makes them look more accomplished or important -- not so. Recent college grads and those who have only had one to two jobs don't need more than one page. Avoid excessive spacing to fill up the page as well and instead flesh out your skill sets, even if you think you have none due to little experience." -- Kristen Fischer, author of "Ramen Noodles, Rent and Résumés: An After-College Guide to Life"
"Someone newer to the work force may have a one-page résumé, with a more seasoned employee having two or more. Most experienced employees cannot fit their work history onto one page, and that's fine. What is critical is that the important information stands out: a very brief summary of who you are, what you're looking for, your key accomplishments and strengths, which tells the employer why they should hire you. This should be captured at the beginning of your résumé in the top quarter of the page -- then the employer could quickly scan where you worked and when, along with more details listed under each position." -- Michelle D. Roccia, senior vice president of corporate organizational development from Winter, Wyman
"I personally believe that a one-page résumé, for the most part, is the way to go -- unless you are a very senior executive with a number of accomplishments through your long career. Otherwise, short and focused is better." -- Jim Joseph, author of "The Experience Effect" and president of Lippe Taylor
"Remember the length Golden Rule: You want your résumé to highlight your best attributes, and hiring authorities shouldn't have to search for them on your résumé. For this reason, stick to the one-page rule and carry over to a second page only if your experience warrants it. This will force you to choose only the most important information for your résumé." -- Alexis Lane, résumé writing specialist at Snelling Staffing - The Wyckoff Group
"While I understand that most candidates want a two-page résumé (or longer), I happen to know that employers put the most focus on a candidate's first page. Their attention starts to wane before they even flip the page. Therefore, appropriate and strategic editing is a smart move. Most job seekers find it difficult to be so objective about their lengthy and accomplishment-based history, so here's a good tip to keep in mind: Job seekers have to think of themselves as a product and their résumé their marketing campaign. Any good marketing director knows to focus on their target consumer while creating a marketing campaign, right? Same thing applies here. You aren't writing your résumé for yourself, but rather, for your potential employers." -- Lauren Milligan, résumé expert and job coach at ResuMayday
"A one-page résumé is needed to get you in the door. At the outset of the process, most companies are using software to scan for keywords and subsequently weeding out those who haven't included them. A two-page résumé is necessary once you've gotten in the door and are sitting in front of a human being. That said, it should not be dense. Bullet points are preferable to paragraphs." -- Frances Cole Jones, author of "The Wow Factor: The 33 Things You Must (and Must Not) Do to Guarantee Your Edge in Today's Business World"
"Less is always more when it comes to résumés today, with one page preferable, as overworked HR departments need to process information faster and are mostly using electronic solutions to identify candidates to start with anyway. On top of this, the more experience you put on there, the more dollar signs begin to flash in hiring managers' heads, and they worry about what it's going to cost to acquire such an experienced candidate." -- Scott Steinberg, CEO, lead analyst, TechSavvy Global
"It does matter, but primarily in relation to the quality of the content. Do not try to create a two-page résumé if you really only have related experiences that fill up one page. Using bigger font and wider space margins do not help your cause. Similarly, if you have a long, impressive career of related professional achievements, there is no need to try to shrink it all down onto one page. Having said all of that, do not go longer than three pages. You should be able to be able to present the best of the best in less than three pages, and if you must, you can add a note 'Additional work history provided upon request.'" -- Sara Sutton Fell, CEO of FlexJobs
The argument: Two pages
"A two-page résumé is important. Given the nature of today's job search, applicants are searching via the Internet and using job boards or a company's website as the first touch. HR professionals and recruiters are either sifting through the résumés or résumés are searched automatically via a computer program. The more information you provide, the better your chances for a call back." -- Allison Rapaport, founder of www.hospitaldreamjobs.com
"It is important to remember that whoever will be looking at your résumé will probably be looking at 50-100 others, so first impressions are critical. Like Goldilocks tasting the porridge, a two-page résumé is 'just about right.' A one-page résumé gives the impression that you do not have a lot of experience. Anything more than two pages gives the impression that you are 'all over the place' and simply don't have the ability to focus. Managers want to be reassured that you can zero in on what you need to do and get it done." -- Mario Almonte, managing partner, Herman and Almonte PR
The argument: It doesn't matter
"I am less concerned about a one-page résumé than assuring that a candidate for employment provides the necessary information in a concise, direct manner. It's the qualifications that need to get noticed. Tell the employer what you can do for them. Be concise but keep it to two pages. Grab their attention first and foremost. Design your résumé to bring out what the employer is seeking and align these requirements to your own personal strengths. Don't sell yourself short -- quite literally." -- Wendy Powell, author of "Management Experience Acquired"
"It really comes down to relevant content. If you have the experience needed to back up the position you're seeking, then you need to share it. If it's more than two pages, then let it flow. If it's just fluff to fill blank paper, limit that fluff to the pertinent information. Experienced hiring managers are very good at identifying fabricated content"-- Joel Rudy, chief operating officer of Photographic Solutions Inc.
"Job seekers focus on the wrong thing when they obsess about whether hiring managers prefer a one- or two-page résumé. Job seekers with great experience, skills, industry connections and attitudes can stop worrying about the one- versus two-page résumé dilemma and be assured that hiring managers are not going to rule out a terrific candidate for sending a two-page résumé instead of a one-page résumé." -- Janet Civitelli, Ph.D., workplace psychologist and founder of career advice website VocationVillage.com
"Your résumé is your introduction to a new company. It says volumes about you before you ever get a chance to and may decide if you get to say anything yourself. One or two pages don't really matter, but two pages in most cases are all you need. Résumés should incorporate both responsibilities and accomplishments, conveyed in specific and measurable form -- how did you make or save your company money?" -- Ira Bershard, Kaye Bassman
"I've seen stacks and stacks of résumés and have strong opinions on how they should be organized and written. As far as number of pages required for a résumé, the idea that everything should fit on one page is dated. Don't leave key experience out just because you're trying to keep it to one page. But do make sure all of the key important experience is on the first page and highlighted appropriately. A good way to accomplish this is by creating a 'career highlights' section at the beginning of your résumé." -- Jenna (Gruhala) Oltersdorf, principal, Snackbox
"A two-page résumé full of fluff and padding kills interest. Yet a one-page résumé that
leaves out compelling selling points shortchanges both the applicant and the hiring company. The length of your résumé should be determined by how long you can keep the story you're telling compelling. You need to pique enough interest to generate an interview, not hide your strengths in a pile of unimpressive blather and puffery." -- Barry Maher is the author of "Filling the Glass"
"Although I do prefer to see a one-page résumé, it's a mild preference and I definitely think this issue gets overemphasized. I have hired applicants that submitted a two-page résumé and would do so again in the future. My best advice is to keep in mind that hiring managers often scan résumés for only 20-30 seconds each. Because of this, the wording of your bullet points is crucial; they must be succinct and attention-grabbing. Also, consider placing a bulleted list of work accomplishments (from all jobs) at the top of your résumé. This technique is gaining more and more popularity as it can really help to grab the attention of the manager that is scanning the résumés." -- Kris Alban, director of strategic partnerships, iGrad
The verdict: The length of your résumé will vary based on your experience. If you're a new graduate or you have less experience, keep your résumé to one page. If you're a seasoned employee in the work force, it's OK to have your résumé a little longer.
No matter how many pages you choose to include, make sure to include all of your pertinent career information on the first page -- and in the top portion -- of the document.
Get the latest job search news and advice on CareerBuilder.com's job seeker blog, "The Work Buzz," and follow us on Twitter @CBforJobSeekers.
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