Dear Sam: How long should a typical resume be? I know that length may vary based on the profession, but what is the limit? – Kacey

Dear Kacey: Great question! Most resumes, at least those for mid-career professionals, would be two pages in length. It is only when I am working with an entry-level candidate, or someone with very few employers, that I can accomplish a one page resume. There is really no limit on how long a resume can be—I have written 10+-page CVs—but the general rule is: one page for entry-level candidates, two for professionals, and three for executives. What is more important than selecting an arbitrary length for your resume, is determining how much space you should take to communicate your value. Ensuring you do not sacrifice value for brevity was a focus of a recent column I wrote as far too many candidates focus on the length of a resume instead of spending the appropriate time and space exploring how they have added value to their employers and therefore their candidacy.

Remember, in the ever-so-brief screening process, an employer will not even get through page one of your resume before making a decision whether to bring you in. Hence, if you have two pages exploring your candidacy, the employer will spend the time to review that—just as they would the rest of page one—after the all-important decision has been made to screen you “in.” Therefore, the length of a resume is fairly inconsequential the scheme of the initial screening process, it is much more important to utilize your space wisely. In addition, if you arbitrarily trim your resume to one page, when your resume is scanned for keywords by an applicant tracking system, you will likely have far lower keyword relevance just due to the limited content. I hope this helps shape your decision as to the length of your resume.