Friday, January 23, 2015

What Is The Right Length For A Resume?

What Is The Right Length For A Resume?

Yes I know I write about resumes all the time.  Please trust me when I tell you that I’m trying to write about a variety of topics and if you’ll stick with me, I have many interesting topics coming that are in my pipeline.

When I write articles for LinkedIn, I do so with much thought and I’m highly strategic about what I write.  For the Security Recruiter Blog, I write whatever comes to my mind whenever the topic comes to my mind and whenever I have a few minutes to write.


If you go to Google (which I don’t have time to do), I suspect that you’ll find thousands of opinions regarding the proper length of a resume.  First, there is no universal rule that governs the length of a resume so whatever opinion you adopt, it is your right to have your opinion.

My opinion is based on 25 years of recruiting, on 6.5 years of delivering professional resume writing services and based on my opinion formed by receiving both solicited and unsolicited resumes every day for the past 25 years.

My Experience This Week

Over the past week, I’ve received three particular resumes that have stood out to me.  The first resume was 41 pages, the second was 13 pages and the third was 10 pages.  Those are just a few of the resume I’ve received.

If you’re thinking about writing a resume this weekend, 41 pages, 13 pages and 10 pages are too many pages.  We live in a world where brains have been trained to process sound bites.  You can bet that the people you’re sending your resume to are data overwhelmed. 
If the recipient of your resume is an HR gatekeeper, those people all have too much to do and they have short attention spans. 

Resume Length

For the past 6.5 years, well over 95% of my client's resumes have been created in the 2.5 to 3 page length range.  Based on my resume writing methodology, this length of resume works out just fine and it produces results.

While I can't cite the article, I do recall reading an article written by a senior executive at Google who looks at tens of thousands of resumes.  He suggests that a resume can have 1 page covering every 10 years of work experience.  I'm fine with that.  

Not too long ago, I helped a 62 year old client who has 40 years of professional experience to build a resume that was 3 pages long versus the 8 pages he originally brought to me.

Consider This

  • If your resume is headed to a Human Resources department, you can assume that the department is under-staffed and that everyone in the department is overworked.  I can't see this type of gatekeeper reading a long resume.
  • If the recipient of your resume is a recruiter, you can trust that the recruiter has too many voice mails, too many InMails on LinkedIn, too many emails and likely a lot of text messages to manage.
  • If your resume is going directly to a hiring decision maker, what I just wrote about the recruiter applies.

10-20 Seconds - First Impression

You have 10-20 seconds to make your first impression with most resume reviewers.  If they can’t figure out who you are, how to contact you, how you’re educated and credentialed and what you’re great at in the first 10-20 seconds of reviewing, you may never make to the playing field to compete in the game you want to play.

I’m not trying to be mean in sharing this information.  In fact, just the opposite is true. I love to see people succeed.  Just ask my various forms of coaching clients if that is a true statement.  Here's where you can find some of those testimonials.

  • Personal Branding Matters
  • First Impressions Matter
  • Communicating in Your Audience's Style and Language Matters
  • This is true in a Cover Letter, in a Resume and on LinkedIn's Security Recruiter Blog