First of all: it’s not the end of the world if your resume is longer than a single page. But having a resume that’s too long can dramatically reduce your chances of interview. Apart from a few niche industries, the average resume should be no longer than 600 words. Here’s what you need to know.
How Long Should Your Resume Be?
Many people have wondered how long a resume should really be. Luckily, there’s a fairly direct answer: it needs to be under 600 words. In the old days, people measured resumes by page, and they suggested a one-page resume at most. Today, most resumes aren’t even read on paper: it’s more about how long they take to read than how physically lengthy they are.
Of course, a resume can also be too short. If your resume is shorter than 475 words, it may not have enough content there to really justify yourself as a candidate. And there is an exception to long resumes — but only for academic fields.
When Are Longer Resumes Better?
Longer resumes are better for those in highly specialized fields, such as those in academics and technology. People in STEM fields may easily have resumes that are longer than 600 words — but these highly specialized individuals are also likely to have a different type of job search ahead of them regardless.
What About the Keywords?
Many job applicants have been told that they need to just stuff their resume full of keywords, as machines will look at their resume before an interviewer does. While that’s technically true, adding a bunch of keywords doesn’t help. It’s adding relevant keywords that does. It’s better to add two or three important keywords than dozens of unrelated keywords.
How Can You Shorten Your Resume?
- Make it as clear and concise as possible. Your goal should be to hit anywhere between 475 to 600 words. Use brief sentences and short descriptions: only as much information as necessary
- Only include your experience and education as pertains to the job that you’re looking for. Jobs from ten years ago that have no bearing on the field you’re applying for now don’t need to be included.
- Only include keywords that are right for the job that you’re applying for. You should be tailoring your resume for every job that you apply to, or at least for every industry.
In general, resumes are getting longer. People are switching jobs and careers more often. But having a long resume usually means that your resume is going to get ignored. When creating your resume, go for quality over quantity: try to be as specific to the position rather than just throwing in everything you can.