Myths vs. Fact: There are many myths floating around on the internet and throughout the job marketplace regarding the correct length of a resume and how far back a resume should go. These are all good questions and subjects to cover since there are many different approaches you must take depending on your particular background and target industry.
The truth is, there are no standard rules that should be applied to the length of a resume. However, keeping the content concise and straight to the point may be a key element in the effectiveness of the document, depending on your line of work.
Some job seekers will have more information than others, for example – a seasoned professional with 20 years of work history and eight different jobs held versus an entry-level college graduate with no significant achievements or experience. Obviously, there will be a distinguishable format between the two resumes.
An entry-level job search campaign may be one of the examples when the rumor about a “one-page resume” would apply. Again, this is not a standard rule that one must follow. Every industry, recruiter, and employer requires varied amounts of information to be displayed on a resume. Therefore, it is important to hone in on those particular requirements to ensure you are gathering the necessary information to achieve your targeted objective.
So, just to recap – how long should your resume be?
Well, there is simply no definite answer to this question. So, when you are asking yourself if your resume is too long, remember, everyone’s situation is different, job requirements vary, and some backgrounds are more diverse or extensive than others.
Unfortunately, two myths regarding resume length continue to impact job seekers:
- Myth 1: A resume should never be more than one page or it will not be read by busy HR professionals and managers.
- Myth 2: Some believe a lengthy resume (more than 2 or 3 pages) is required to adequately describe a candidate’s background.
Interestingly enough, these two myths represent opposing viewpoints; however, like many myths, they each contain some truth that derives from how a resume will be screened by hiring managers. Keep in mind some companies may also first use an applicant tracking system (ATS) for screening and organizing applicants.
Resume Scanning: A resume will first receive a very brief scan, often 10-20 seconds, to determine if the candidate appears to meet the major requirements. While the entire resume may be quickly scanned, utilizing a summary of qualifications with keywords and phrases based upon one’s career goal and job target is advantageous. A resume that passes the initial scan will then receive greater scrutiny to determine if a candidate qualifies for an interview. Here, relevant depth and detail in the history is best since the candidate’s experience, skills, and strengths – as they apply to the position – will be more thoroughly assessed.
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