If you have an extensive work history, you might find yourself with a three-page, four-page, or even a five-page resume. Maybe you’ve held a lot of jobs, or perhaps you’ve been in the workforce for decades. You might also be adding a lot of detail to each job on your resume, trying to maximize your keywords for the ATS scan.
So, is it okay to have a three-page resume?
It depends but generally no, a resume should almost never be more than two pages long.
A hiring manager only skims a resume for a few seconds before deciding to either look into it in more detail or send it to the rejection pile. You want to give them a resume that’s clean, concise, and relevant. There is just no reason to take more than two pages to do that.
Hiring managers often have hundreds of applicants per job posting, and may be hiring for multiple positions at a time. A long resume might annoy a hiring manager, since the information is likely not all relevant.
Generally, your goal is to effectively communicate that you’re right for the job in as little space as possible.
When it’s acceptable to have a three-page resume
There are some fields that require a long resume due to the inclusion of research, publications, and detailed projects. Those often involve people in science, medicine, academia, and engineering.
Even then, it’s advisable to keep your resume at two pages unless you have relevant information the hiring manager would want to see. You can include additional information on your LinkedIn profile, online portfolio, or a personal website.
Note: this advice is specifically for people writing a resume. If you’re not applying for a corporate job in the US or Canada, you may want to brush up on when to use a CV instead.
So how can you cut your resume down to two pages? You need to remove irrelevant and outdated information. Here are some tips to trim your resume down to be more effective.
How to get your resume under three pages
1. Keep it relevant
One of the most common reasons job seekers have a resume that’s three pages or longer is the inclusion of irrelevant information. Don’t include a whole page on customer service positions you held 15 years ago if you’re applying for an accounting position. One of the keys to writing an effective resume is including information that’s relevant.
Your resume’s goal is to show that you’re a good fit for the job you’re applying for. This means you include only the experience, skills, and qualifications that would matter to this employer.If something on your resume doesn’t directly translate to how you would add value at this job, the chances are good that you should remove that line/position/skills from your document.
2. Use the right format
Your overall format, font, and font size could also be a reason your resume goes onto a third page. Keep your font size at 12 and if you’re just going onto a third page, you may want to try another font. Some fonts take up more space, so you could try several different fonts to see what works.
💡ZipTip: if you aren’t sure what resume format to use, this guide walks you through the three most popular resume formats for American and Canadian employers.
3. Keep your experience clear and concise
Another reason many job seekers go over the recommended resume length is because they include too much information for each position they held. Don’t use paragraphs when describing your work experience. Instead, use clear and concise bullet points.
Our team of 100+ career experts, professional resume writers, and former recruiters recommend that you use 4 to 6 bullet points for each position.That keeps your work experience focused and relevant while remaining easy for hiring managers to scan.
4. Remove outdated experience
As a general rule, your resume should only contain your work history for the last 10 years. Even if the information is relevant, you don’t really want to include positions you held over a decade ago. A lot of job seekers want to include their full job history; however, this might be hurting you because it’s less relevant and your skills are probably rusty.
For more information on this subject, check out our related post: Why Overqualified Job Seekers Are Rejected.
5. Ban the resume fluff
It’s time to cut out the resume fluff. If you’re including buzzword phrases like “hard-working” or “team-player,” not only are you taking up valuable resume real estate, you’re wasting the hiring manager’s time. Keep your resume free of annoying buzzwords.
When deciding how long your resume should be, keep in mind that the hiring manager will only be looking at it for a few seconds. You want to capture their attention with clear, concise, and relevant information. A resume that’s 3, 4, or 5 pages will usually be a turn off to a hiring manager. Do everyone a favor by only including your most impressive, relevant, and recent information on your resume.
Good luck with your job search!
Do you have more questions? Comment below!