Recently, I wrote a piece called Conquering the First Obstacle: How to Write a Great Resume. I touched briefly on the problem of length, but that seems hardly to have been enough. It’s time for me to answer this question once and for all:
“How long should my resume be?”
If you have 10 or more years of experience, your resume should be two pages. One page is fine for recent grads and people still in the early stages of their career. It’s that simple.
The old “your resume should be one page” thing dates back to the Paleozoic Era, when people still applied to things called “classified ads.” They actually made paper versions of their resumes and sent them to people using what archaeologists call “The U.S. Postal Service.” The resume would then be kept in a cabinet for an unspecified amount of time until the person got hired or the resume got thrown away. It was a strange and distant time, and its lessons have no bearing on today’s best practices.
Resumes no longer occupy physical space. They’re no longer mailed or filed. They no longer require a staple or an awkward paper clip. Reading a second page is as simple as scrolling, and no one thinks, “there’s no way I’m hiring an applicant who makes me scroll.” Few things are sadder than seeing a VP trying to wedge an entire career onto a single page using 8 pt. font and 1/4″ margins. It’s a nightmare for everyone involved, and it’s just not necessary.
To be sure, there are a few exceptions to this rule. If, for example, you’re turning 30 and you still hold the job you landed when you got out of college, then you can have a one page resume. You’re also something of an anthropological curiosity, but hey — the world’s a strange place. On the other hand, if you’re still in your 20s, but have done a lot of project or consulting work, then you can take your resume to two pages.
At the end of the day, depth of experience trumps career length every time. If you feel that you can’t adequately convey your skills and experience in one tightly written and well-edited page, then go to two. Don’t feel boxed in by the one page rule. Dinosaurs roamed the Earth the last time that was relevant.