How Many Pages Should a Resume Be? Guide + Tips

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Your resume is your professional calling card. Learn what length it should be and how to keep it focused and impactful.

[Featured image] A woman in a pale yellow sweater sits at a table and looks over a two-page resume. There's a plant on the table in front of her.

Most resumes should be between one and two pages long. But, some can be three pages or more. How long should your resume be?

In this article, you will find out what resume length is best for your needs. 

Beginning with an overview of the best resume sizes for different types of job and internship applicants, this article also includes key tips for keeping your resume a manageable size. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of the ideal resume length for your unique situation and how to get there. 

Resume length: how many pages you really need 

The length of your resume will depend on your work experience and the industry in which you work. To figure out the best approach for you, review the list below of resume lengths for some common scenarios. 

One-page resumes 

The most common length for many resumes is one full page. 

This length is especially well-suited for anyone with one to ten years of relevant work experience, current students, or recent college graduates. Career switchers might consider using a single-page resume instead of a two-page one, even if they have over a decade of work experience, if some of their previous experience is not relevant to the job. 

Nonetheless, one-page resumes remain a standard length that will fit many use cases but particularly early-career professionals.

Two-page resumes

In the past, most resumes were expected to be only one page. Today, some professionals argue that two-page resumes are preferable, particularly because they allow job seekers to include more keywords in their resume that might be recognized by automated systems. When in doubt, though, err on the side of the more focused and shorter resume.

Two-page resumes are becoming increasingly more common, particularly as electronic resumes replace paper ones. Now, hiring managers can easily scroll through resumes digitally rather than having to thumb through a physical stack of them on their desk, making a two-page resume a less daunting prospect. 

Two-page resumes are a good choice for those with enough experience to fill both pages. As a result, two-page resumes are best suited to mid-career professionals with 10-15 years of relevant experience, who are applying to leadership positions within an organization. 

Three-page (or more) resumes

You should almost never submit a three-page resume unless you meet a specific set of criteria or the industry in which you work specifically asks for resumes of this length. 

Typically, resumes that are three pages or longer are reserved for researchers, who often have lengthy resumes or CVs due to long lists of citations for published work. Mid-to-late stage professionals with 15+ years of experience who are applying to senior-level positions may also find that a three-page resume is required to adequately highlight their work experience and accomplishments. 

Still not sure? Here’s a  good rule of thumb:

There is no one-size-fits-all resume length. While some might find that they can fit all their professional experience into one page, others might find that they can only make their resume work with two pages. 

When in doubt, remember this easy rule of thumb: the ideal resume length is as short as possible while also including all your relevant accomplishments, skills, and experience. Try to keep your resume short without losing value.


Resume length tips

You may find it difficult to keep your resume short without compromising prior work experience. Use these tips to edit, refine, and focus your resume so it can have as much impact as possible. 

1. Use only 3-5 bullet points. 

One of the key places that resumes can bloat is in the work experience section. Here, you should limit your bullet points to between three and five for each work experience item. You’ll keep your resume focused only on the experiences that matter to the job you are applying for. 

If you find that you have too many bullet points under each job title, then consider consolidating some of them. This is a particularly effective strategy when the bullet points overlap with one another. 

To do this, read through your resume and look for related bullet points that are currently separated. Then, combine them together. 

For example:

I designed and coded websites using HTML for numerous tech companies. Clients included Coursera, Google, and Microsoft Average web traffic rose by over 30 percent across all clientsDesigned and coded websites for Coursera, Google, and Microsoft; average site traffic rose by 30%

2. Focus on achievements rather than duties.

Another good way to cut down on the size of the work experience section of your resume is to emphasize your concrete achievements rather than simply listing every duty you performed in a previous position. In addition to cutting out unnecessary descriptions of potentially irrelevant tasks, this technique also allows you to highlight the impact that you had at your previous place of employment. 

To do this, read through your resume and identify the duties listed without describing a greater outcome. While it may be obvious to you what the purpose of a task was, it likely won’t be to a busy hiring manager who is simply scanning your resume. Be as explicit and concrete as possible with your achievements.   

The example below illustrates this principle in action:

Tutored 9th - 12th grade students in math and science Conducted practice SAT exams on Saturdays Interfaced with parents and counselors about course of action that could be taken to improve student learningTutored two dozen high schoolers in STEM; conducted SAT practice exams; average student’s GPA increased by two letter grades and test performance by 200+ points.

3. Use active language (and be concise).

You want your resume to be a focused representation of what you have accomplished and what you can bring to your next place of employment. As a result, use active, action-oriented language that succinctly describes what you did and accomplished, rather than spelling out full sentences that make scanning difficult. 

To make your writing more action-oriented and concise, take out any unnecessary words that take attention away from the actions you performed and the outcomes you achieved. For instance, consider the two examples below: 

I worked on several projects at Coursera, where I managed a team of five and helped increase the company’s overall revenue by 130 percent.Spearheaded four projects; managed five employees; increased revenue by 130%.

The first example is much longer and less impactful than the second one because it hides the applicant’s actions and achievements in excessive text. While the “Before” example would be suitable for a cover letter, the “After” example is better suited for a resume, which is more likely to be scanned than read by a hiring manager. 

4. Only include relevant experience.

When applying to certain jobs, you will likely find that not all of your experience is equally relevant to the position. Consider excluding work that doesn’t seem particularly relevant to the job you are applying for.  

For example, if you are applying for a senior-level position at a company, then you can safely leave out the work you did while an undergraduate in college. Similarly, if you are a career switcher, then you might leave out some of the work that you have done previously that doesn’t relate to your new position. 

That said, you might consider keeping the work in if taking it out will create significant gaps in your employment history that might make employers believe you were out of work for a long time. Use your own discretion when following this tip but it is wise to always tailor your resume to whatever job to which you are applying, making sure that you only include the most relevant work experience. 

5. Include keywords. 

Today, many employers filter and rank resumes using applicant tracking systems (ATS) that scan them for relevant keywords. Typically, these systems use the job description to identify relevant keywords and search resumes to rank them according to keyword matches.

As a result, you should tailor your resume to mirror the language used in the job description whenever you have experience or skills that match it. That said, don’t lie on your resume about work experience you don’t have or stuff your resume with too many unnecessary keywords. Some systems might discard resumes that do so. 

Some of the best places to include keywords or key phrases on your job application include in your cover letter and in the summary, skills, and work experience sections of your resume. 

Read: Resume Keywords: How to Find the Right Words to Beat the ATS

Submitting a polished resume is the first step to starting your new career. As you prepare for your next job search, you might consider taking a flexible online course on how to write a resume. In just five hours, you will craft an essential cornerstone of the modern-day job or internship search through a project-oriented course that leaves you with an eye-catching resume that lets your professional strengths shine.



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