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How Long Should A Resume Be?

How Long Should A Resume Be?

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Today’s job applicants have a major challenge – finding the right balance for their resume. Going too long on a resume you lose the hiring manager’s attention. Going too short on the resume you end up not hitting enough keywords and terms to match what the Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is looking for to secure a good ranking. So, what are today’s job applicants to do?

Related: How To Quantify Your Accomplishments On A Resume

Find answers to address resume length here. There’s two ways to go about the situation:

1. Make Two Versions of Your Resume

What the human reviewer looks for on the resume will be different from what the ATS looks for. By preparing two different versions of your resume, you can customize information to the particular audience.

Resume for the Human Reviewer

  • When you are sending your resume directly to an individual you may have already spoken to or to someone you know who will personally review it, customize your resume so there is succinct information about your experience and accomplishments. This will allow the individual to assess how well you did the job and where your expertise lies. They will not care so much for specific information defining your role and responsibility on the job because it is generally understood what an Accountant does, what someone working the IT Helpdesk does, what a Web Designer does, etc.
  • Focus your resume content on highlighting how you used your experience and skills on the job and what you achieved with it. For more tips on customizing the resume for the human reviewer, read: “How To Customize Your Resume” and “How To Create A Resume With Impact: Duties Vs. Results.”

Resume for the Applicant Tracking System

  • When you are sending in your resume online through a job board, LinkedIn or company web site, there’s a high chance your resume will be submitted to the ATS to be filtered and ranked. In this instance, it’s okay for your resume to run longer as the software will look for roles and responsibilities in order to rank your skill level. The ATS is looking for matches in job title, job description and responsibilities, and other keywords and terms relevant to the job and industry.

2. Follow the Harvard Format for Highlighting Your Roles, Responsibilities, and Achievements

If you don’t want to maintain two versions of your resume, the simple answer is to write your resume using the Harvard format. The Harvard format is used under the Work Experience section of your resume to appeal to the human reviewer and the ATS. It cover both roles and responsibilities as well as your accomplishments on the job in a succinct manner.

To apply the Harvard format to your resume, describe your roles and responsibilities in paragraph form. Follow the section up with bullet points detailing your accomplishments. Give your bullet points impact by indicating the challenge, what action you took, and the results you produced. You also want to prioritize your bullet points by importance. For more tips on using bullets on the resume, read: “6 Tips For Using Bullet Points On Your Resume.”

Finding the right balance on the resume to meet both what the human reviewer is looking for and what the ATS is looking for is a challenge every job seeker faces today. There’s really no way in telling every time which employer is going through resumes manually and who’s relying on the ATS. To ensure your resume doesn’t get dismissed, apply the tips above. And remember, resume length should not be something to worry about if the content you are providing is relevant.

This post was originally published at an earlier date.

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Don Goodman

About the author

Don Goodman’s firm was rated as the #1 Resume Writing Service in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Don is a triple-certified, nationally recognized Expert Resume Writer, Career Management Coach and Job Search Strategist who has helped thousands of people secure their next job. Check out his Resume Writing Service. Get a Free Resume Evaluation or call him at 800.909.0109  for more information.


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Don Goodman Don Goodman, President of Best Resume Writing Service - About Jobs is a nationally recognized career expert. Get a free career assessment from Don here.