Let's get right down to it: for most job seekers, a one-page resume is your target.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule (and we'll get into the fine details), but if you want your TL;DR upfront, it's get rid of the fluff on your resume and chop it down to a single page.
Who should have a one-page resume?
1. College students and graduates
If you apply to jobs after college with a resume longer than one page at worst, you'll look conceited, and at best, ill-informed. List your relevant internships and experience, but leave off college courses and long lists of extracurricular activities unless the job is directly related. You don't have to worry about your inexperience if you are a new grad — hiring managers expect that from applicants fresh from college.
2. Most applicants
Crafting a resume is different than listing your job history for an application.
Your resume should not include every single job, internship, and project you've completed; you should select the parts of your career history that fulfill the listed requirements in the job description.
Remember, you want the hiring manager — who's working quickly to find reasons to put you on the toss pile — to glance at your resume and see only relevant, succinct details about your work experience.
When it OK to have a two or more page resume?
When you're applying for a job in a specialty sector that requires one, such as a government job, academic job (where you'll need a curriculum vitae
instead of a resume), or if the job is very technical/your applicable work history is very extensive.
As someone who made the switch into the civilian sector after federal service, I was surprised how many professionals with 5 to 20 years of experience opted for just one page to lay out work history. Government jobs require lengthy, multi-paged resumes, and in the military career transition courses I attended, our career counselor never mentioned that one-page resumes are the status quo for most civilian jobs.
I wondered how — and why —these seasoned professionals (with plenty of skills and qualifications) stuck to one page. However, I soon found out once I started reviewing resumes as part of my job, and worked with career coaches who were experts on the topic.
It's easy: take out anything irrelevant, make the formatting simple, and condense your work history
. When you're forced to stay within the confines of a single-page document, you'll only keep the relevant, important information — which is exactly what you want in your resume. Trim the fat!
What to do if you're not sure
If you're not quite sure whether your resume is the correct length for the job or industry you're applying to, ask someone!
The beauty of the digital age is that there are online career forums
(like Fairygodboss!) where you can ask for opinions from a community of professional workers. Reaching out directly to a friend, former colleague, or mentor is another way to find out whether you're in the ballpark or not.
And if you're really uncertain, you might want to consider working with a career coach or other industry expert.
Nina Semczuk, Head of SEO Content for Fairygodboss, devours career content — which means that sometimes, she dreams in resume templates. She loves helping women find the answers to all their burning career questions.