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Have you ever wondered, how long is too long for a resume? You’re not the only one. There’s always been some confusion around this topic. Today, career experts J.T. O’Donnell and Dale Dauten clear things up. Dear J.T. and Dale, How long is too long for a resume? I remember being told that my resume should be one page. Recently, my employer was hiring and we were getting 2-3 page resumes. One person even had a section with her personal information: kids, hobbies. What are the rules? - Shilo According to O’Donnell, the meat of the issue is that there are no rules when it comes to resumes, which is why everyone is confused and on different pages when it comes to content, length, formatting, and so on. She recommended that your resume be no longer than 1-2 pages. Studies show that recruiters spend about six seconds scanning a resume, so you want to make sure you’re making it easy for them to find the right information as quickly as possible. So, there are two things you should do when writing a resume. First, simplify the text. Don’t try to fit in too much, and don’t worry about including irrelevant experience. In the end, that’s not what recruiters are looking for when they read your resume. They’re looking for specific information about you that proves you can do the job they’re looking to fill. “Stick to the facts,” said O’Donnell. “Get rid of all of that flowery language.” Second, make sure the font is at least 11 point. If you make it too small in an effort to fit as much as you can on a page, it’s going to be hard to read and difficult for the recruiter to find what he or she is looking for within that six second period. “Do your best to simplify and think about that reader,” O’Donnell said. “Less is more.” However, Dauten suggested that there’s no harm in having a longer resume (2-3 pages). Dauten argued that including hobbies on your resume, which can make it longer than it needs to be, might actually help to strike up conversation and connection during an interview. “I don’t see that it hurts anything [to have a longer resume],” said Dauten. “And maybe you have a chance to make that personal connection.” Unfortunately, there's no solid answer to "How long is too long for a resume?" However, in the end, it’s all about the content and how you present it to the recruiter or employer. Are you making it easy for the reader to find what he or she is looking for? Want to ask J.T. & Dale a question? Email your question to advice@jtanddale.com

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As a job seeker, your goal is to get a recruiter to look at your resume and bring you in for an interview. In order to do that, you need to understand what’s happening on the recruiter’s side of the table. Recruiters get hundreds of resumes, and they can’t possibly go through each one. And they definitely can’t go through each resume line-by-line. There’s just not enough time in the day. That’s why recruiters have learned to skim resumes for the most important information, which typically only takes six seconds. When a recruiter reads a resume, his or her eyes move down the page in a Z-pattern (left to right all the way down). They’re looking for key terms that relate to the job they’re trying to fill. If a recruiter finds what he or she is looking for in that first pass, your resume will likely get a shot at a more in-depth resume review. And, if they still like what they see, you might even get a phone call asking you to do an interview. So, it becomes critical that you pass that 6-second skim. In order to accomplish this, you need to make it easy for recruiters to find the information they need in order to move you to the second part of the process. How do you do this? You need to format your resume in a way that showcases your key skill sets, or keywords that relate to the jobs for which you’re applying. If you don’t highlight these things on your resume and make them easy to see, the recruiter is going to toss your resume. If you resume doesn’t have the right keywords and doesn’t showcase them with its formatting, your resume is headed straight for the trashcan. If you need help with your job search strategy, watch this free 20-minute video tutorial with career expert J.T. O'Donnell. WATCH NOW!

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This resume guide is sponsored by The Ladders The goal of your resume is to get you an interview for the job. Our friends at the Ladders, the largest professional career resource, have shared their simple resume guide to improve your interview success rate.

Resume Length

For the majority of professionals, a resume should be two pages total. However, if you have less than 10 years of experience, your resume should be about a page long.

Resume Structure

At the top of your resume, you should list your contact information. At the bottom, you should showcase your education.

Professional Summary

A Professional Summary summarizes your professional goals, experience, and strengths. Here are some things you should include in your Professional Summary: Job titles: Think about what types of jobs you would consider for your next role, then list 3-5 job titles you would accept. Don’t worry if you haven’t had this job in the past. The important part is to make sure it’s a logical next step for you in your career. Professional skills: After you’ve listed out the types of jobs you would accept, think about the skills you’d need to leverage in those jobs. List 4-6 relevant skills that you possess. However, don’t list skills that are obvious or assumed. Accomplishments: List 3-6 phrases that outline your past achievements.

Work History

In your Work History, you should provide a chronological list of your professional experience, beginning with your most recent role. After you list the names of each company, dates of employment, and job titles for each role, use bullet points to distribute the following information:
  • Your most recent/important job (8 bullet points)
  • Your next job (8 bullet points)
  • Your next two jobs (4 bullet points each)
  • Everything else (10 bullet points total)
TIP: Instead of using static verbs like “managed,” “my responsibilities included,” and so on in your bullet points, include a “success verb.” Here are some examples of success verbs:
  • Achieved
  • Contributed
  • Delivered
  • Exceeded
  • Gained
  • Improved
  • Introduced
  • Optimized
  • Sold
When it comes to listing out your accomplishments, it’s critical to showcase a number, dollar, or percentage increase / decrease in each bullet point. Here are some examples:
  • Increased new customer visits by 17% without increasing ad budget.
  • Improved revenue per SaaS client by $4,250 through consultative sales training.
Potential employers care about the quantifiable outcome of the company. So, think about their goals. Are they looking for more users, more revenue, faster turnaround, higher client satisfaction, all of the above, or something else completely? Understanding their goals will allow you to showcase the right information on your resume.

Your Audience

Think about who will be reading your resume. The hiring manager is wants to know what you can do for him and his team. He will be looking for proof that you know how to handle the type of projects and problems that will arise on this job. If you use the tips in this resume guide, you’ll increase your chances of success.

Free Resume Review

Hopefully, you found this resume guide helpful! Now that you know what to do, check out Ladders free resume reviewer tool and get your resume reviewed in 35 seconds or less. You’ll be on your way to having a powerful new resume.

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