Well, it depends.
True. Most resumes are one or two pages. But like everything else, there can be different answers to the resume length question. For example, it’s not uncommon for an executive to have a three-page resume. Individuals who are academic heavy, such as scientists and those in research/development could have a resume even longer (what is commonly referred to as a curricula vitae).
Countless books have been written about resumes, and each publication generally contains a chapter or section on resume page length.
The general rule has always been to cover about a 10-year timeline of your work history. However, the 21st century has introduced a different type of job seeker, one that changes jobs every 1-3 years. The continued changing of jobs definitely makes for a challenge to fit all positions within even a two-page resume.
Persons with only a few years of work history can likely fit everything into a one-page resume, whereas someone with more years (a full career, let’s say) will likely use two pages.
The best way to handle the “page” question is to ignore page length while writing and laying out your initial resume. Focus more on getting your job roles included, adequately outlining job responsibilities and accomplishments.
Let the resume grow and expand naturally, at least in the beginning.
Once work history (focus on including about 10 years), intro statement, education, and other needed categories are added, sit back and analyze length. Chances are the resume is “close” to being either one page, two, or maybe even three pages.
In cases where there is content “overage” yet resume length is close to being a one or two-page resume, a bit of nipping and tucking to the content can easily shave out any unnecessary excess.
In cases where content trimming isn’t possible, look at adding spacing to fan out the content. Let’s say the resume draft is 1.5 pages, yet you prefer two full pages … a limited amount of white space, for example. Adding space to the resume can be accomplished by including double spaces between job roles, creating columns for advanced training (rather than placing the list in a paragraph form), using a larger font for the header, and widening the margins of the resume.
In cases where the resume draft is a fat three or more pages, it’s probably time to analyze what’s included. Note: I said above that seasoned professionals can have a heavier resume; but, in cases where the content can be scaled back for a lighter, more-on-point resume, the latter is the better option.
Are you including 1980’s and early/mid-1990’s jobs? If so, think about shaving off those older positions. Chances are hiring managers will care more about your more recent job roles and less about what you did 15-25 years ago. To further cut the “fat”, ask yourself and act upon the following:
Does the resume contain information irrelevant to my next career move?
Are skills, knowledge, and abilities excessively repeated throughout the document?
Are there implied job skills I could eliminate without affecting the quality of the resume?