By Bethany Stafford Small Business Marketing Consultant | Asheville, NC
With 50 to 100 resumes crossing their desks daily, hiring managers are practically looking for a reason to weed out a bad resume here and there. Their goal is to eliminate resume after resume until they are left with only the top 5 to 10 that demonstrate professionalism and represent the most qualified applicants for the job. At this point, simple mistakes like font choice, grammatical errors, or even the overall length of your resume can quickly eliminate you from this first cut.
Hiring managers are a lot like that finicky little girl with golden locks who flounced through the home of the three bears looking for everything that was “just right.”
“This resume is too long,” that hiring manager said.
“This resume is too short,” another thought.
In determining the length of your resume, you want to go for something that is “just right” and “just right” is different for different people.
For starters, let’s shoot for one page per 7 years of experience in your career field. That means that all entry-level resumes should be right at or around one page. Whether you are fresh out of high school, college, or changing careers fields after 20 years, your resume should more than likely end at one page. Never continue your resume onto another page unless you can fill at least 75 percent of it with solid content. If you feel like you have a page and a half of content, work on wordiness and remove as many details, or descriptors as possible.
For example, this bullet point is too long:
- Created handouts and visual PowerPoint presentations to effectively present monthly budget to 18 board members using expertise in finance and oral communication.
This bullet point is too short:
- Presented budget.
This bullet point is just right:
- Presented monthly budget to 18 board members using oral and visual aids.
The right amount of wordiness will naturally result in the appropriate length for your resume and will help hiring managers walk away feeling “satisfied” with the amount of information they consumed. In the same way, too little will leave them feeling empty, like they still don’t know enough about you. And too much will leave them feeling overstuffed, bored, or outright annoyed.
You can give your hiring manager a satisfying amount of information by limiting the number of bullet points you used for each section. Use two to five concise bullet points per section that relate to the job for which you are applying. Relevance is key!
Another trick to help you monitor the length of your resume is to adjust fonts, spacing, and margins accordingly. Most standard fonts are readable at 10 or 12 points and spaced between 1 and 1.5 lines. Likewise, your margins can flex anywhere between .5 and 1.25 inches. With these types of small adjustments, you want to achieve just the right amount of “white space.” Too much or too little white space on your resume can be a major turn off to a hiring manager and will get your resume sent right to the trash.
If you are still unsure if the length of your resume is “just right,” ask a friend or a colleague to review it for you. An extra set of eyes can really give you perspective and help satisfy the many Goldilocks hiring managers out there.