This article is part of a series of The Top 10 Resume Questions and Answers. Every few days I will post a new article with a new resume-related question and answer. Today, I’ll address two questions; the first question is how long do recruiters and hiring managers spend reading each resume?
Estimates vary between 5-30 seconds. While this seems short, this is because they have a stack of resumes to get through (not just your resume), and this is often in addition to many other job duties that need to be performed. This means that the people who are reviewing your resume are merely skimming it, and looking for a quick indication of your potential fit with their needs. Of course, if they like the resume, they’ll spend more time on it. This is why you need to treat your resume like an advertisement and draw the reader in with content that makes them want to keep reading.
This leads to today’s second resume question – in terms of resume length, how long is too long (or too short)?
Resume length is a frequent topic of debate but here’s the reality – if the content on the first half of page one isn’t compelling, the reader isn’t going to read anything beyond that point. So, in that case, the resume can be as long as you’d like. Assuming you’ve got attention-grabbing, relevant content on the first half of page one, most people can follow these guidelines –
Junior level – Keep it to 1 page
Mid to senior level – 2 pages with tight editing should suffice
Very senior level – 3 pages are okay for folks with significant work experience
I say that most people can follow these guidelines because there are always going to be exceptions. Academic, scientific, and government resumes are typically much longer in length, so if you fall into that category this doesn’t apply to you (unless you are trying to transition to the corporate world). Surely there are other exceptions, which is why I’m calling these guidelines rather than rules.
In summary, to give yourself the best chance at the hiring manager and/or recruiter spending more time with your resume, be sure the beginning of the resume does a good job of drawing the reader in so they will continue reading. If you think you need help with this aspect of your resume, consider the following local resources:
Consider taking a resume writing workshop offered at the Henry Ford Community College Center for Lifelong Learning. Workshops are starting January 19, February 16, March 16, and April 20, 2011. For more information, consult the course catalog on the website.
To find a resume writer in the Detroit area, go to the Career Management Alliance’s website and search their directory.
In the next article in this series, I will discuss the biggest resume blunder.