You’ve likely heard the golden rule for creating a resume: keep it to one page. This approach caters well to the fast-paced tech industry, where recruiters might review hundreds of resumes a week. A concise, well-organized, and professional resume can help you stand out. However, a longer resume might be necessary for those pursuing executive or managerial positions to showcase why you’re the perfect fit.
Resumes don’t need to include every single job or volunteer experience to highlight your qualifications. One-page resumes are ideal in most cases, especially for recent graduates and entry-level job applicants. However, job seekers with extensive work experience may submit two-page resumes if all the information applies to their target role. Your primary goal is to effectively present the most relevant information, so pick the resume length that enables you to do your best.
Now, let’s explore how to determine the ideal resume length for your career goals and review some valuable tips to craft the perfect resume.
How long should a resume be?
In most cases, your resume should be no longer than one page. But if you have over a decade of relevant experience and are applying to senior-level roles, you can use a two-page resume to showcase your qualifications adequately.
Here’s a helpful guide:
An analysis of over 6,000 job applications across 66 industries found that the ideal resume length is between 475 and 600 words. However, not every situation is the same. “Most multi-page resumes are from candidates with ten or more years of experience applying for high-level positions like management or executive roles,” explains Kevin Wu, founder and CEO of Pathrise. One notable exception is candidates with PhD degrees or significant research backgrounds who dedicate a second page to their projects.
Tips for a one-page resume
Even if you have only a couple of years of experience, you might not know how to fit everything on one page. With the tips below, you’ll be able to create a single-page resume highlighting your qualifications without leaving out any critical information.
Play with the formatting, but don’t go overboard
If you just need to fit a couple more lines on the page, try slightly shrinking the margins or font size. Experiment with the format of your resume to fit everything on one page, but don’t forget that humans still need to be able to read it. Keep the following best practices in mind:
- Keep margins between 0.5 to 1 inch on all sides. Anything smaller makes it harder for applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan all of the text. Plus, having plenty of white space makes your resume more readable.
- Pay attention to the font size. Ideally, your body text should be between 10 and 12 points and no smaller than 8 points. Make the headings of resume sections like work experience and education 2 points bigger so it’s easier to skim.
- Don’t put anything in the header or footer. ATS typically does not read these parts of a document. You’ll risk the chance that your resume gets overlooked if you put essential details, like your contact information, in these areas.
- Remove filler words like “a,” “an,” “the,” and “and.” If you have bullets just over one or two lines, remove any unnecessary words.
If you’re struggling to fit all your information in a limited space, consider rewording or removing some bullet points rather than sacrificing readability to get more words on the page.
Combine or condense similar job responsibilities
If you’ve worked in the same field or role for several years, you’ve likely had similar responsibilities across different positions. Remove or merge repetitive bullet points to save space and keep your resume concise. By taking the time to consider each bullet, you’ll demonstrate your ability to focus on the most essential information. This is an invaluable skill in the tech industry, where employers want to hire people who can adapt quickly and prioritize.
Let’s say you’re a data scientist, and one of your main responsibilities is collecting data for various projects. No matter how far you are in your career, most hiring managers will assume that data collection is part of your work. In this scenario, you don’t need to mention data collection in every job on your resume. Take a look at the example below:
Notice how these two roles have nearly identical titles, so this candidate doesn’t waste space by repeating information. Instead of listing their job responsibilities, they focused on their quantifiable achievements and how their role added value to the organization.
Another way to do this is to list the job skills you’ve used in multiple roles under a skills section. That frees up space so you can describe how your accomplishments impacted the company’s success.
Focus on your achievements, not your responsibilities
When you’re applying for jobs in the tech industry, you’ll be competing against hundreds or even thousands of candidates who probably had the same job responsibilities you did. Highlighting your achievements will set you apart from the competition and demonstrate your impact in previous roles.
Whether you’re rewriting an existing resume or starting from scratch, use this formula to quantify your work experience: Accomplished X to achieve Y as measured by Z.
You can quantify the impact of your experience through concrete metrics, such as:
- Percent growth
- Revenue generated
- Time and labor saved
- Dollars saved
- Customer satisfaction rating
- Retention rate
Let’s look at an example from a sales resume:
As you can see above, nearly every bullet is quantifiable in some way. Instead of just saying, “developed organic sales in the South Philly market,” this candidate included how much revenue they generated and how many new accounts they added to the business. These concrete details enable hiring managers to evaluate your qualifications better.
Tips for a two-page resume or longer
Although a resume can be longer than one page, the first page is your first impression, so it’s vital to get it right. Following these tips will help you create a two-page resume that uses its precious real estate wisely.
Choose a “rockstar” for the first page
If you have many years of work experience, put your most impactful, applicable position on the first page so hiring managers can focus on it. Ben Hyland, a career mentor at Pathrise who has placed fellows at top tech companies like Google, Meta, Amazon, and Microsoft, calls this your resume’s “rockstar.”
Building the first page of your resume around a rockstar is particularly useful if your most recent experience isn’t relevant to your career goals. You should still list your work experience in reverse chronological order, but reduce the bullets for any roles before or after this section so your rockstar becomes the most significant.
Because this role is now the main focus of your professional experience, make sure to optimize it using keywords and phrases from typical job descriptions for your target job title.
Let’s see this strategy in action in the following before-and-after resume example from a candidate with over 20 years of experience in marketing:
In the first version, the candidate only briefly listed their job responsibilities without highlighting their unique accomplishments. Although their freelance experience is less relevant to their desired job as a marketing leader, this section is bigger than the marketing director section below it.
In the revised version, a career mentor at Pathrise expanded the marketing director section to highlight quantifiable achievements and skills found in many marketing director job descriptions, like leading teams, building brands, and creating marketing strategies.
Include only your most relevant experience and skills
It’s understandable to feel proud of all your work over the years, but you’ve probably come quite far in all that time. As your career evolves, any outdated or irrelevant experience will detract from your qualifications rather than add to them. Plus, the tech industry is constantly evolving, so your experience from just a few years ago may already be outdated.
For any experience from more than ten years ago, consider whether each role demonstrates any skills or achievements that would apply to your desired job. If a job doesn’t prove your higher level skills — like leadership, people management, strategy — then mention it but don’t use too much space on it. Here’s an example using the marketing resume from above:
When reviewing this resume, Michelle Zhang, a Pathrise Resume Specialist notes that “Because Recruiters and Hiring Teams typically spend less than 30 seconds reviewing each resume, it’s vital that the most essential information is on the resume at a first glance while highlighting your accomplishments in a clear and concise way.” She recognizes that this marketing strategist role wasn’t as important as the candidate’s leadership roles. So only a few lines were allocated to it, focusing on a single impressive accomplishment.
Take your tech career to new heights with Pathrise
In the competitive tech industry, crafting a resume with the perfect length is essential to showcase your qualifications and stand out. Remember, your resume should reflect your career goals and the professional experience that supports them. And as you embark on your job search, don’t forget to consider the importance of your resume format for ATS to further boost your chances of success.
If you’re ready to elevate your job search strategy, Pathrise is here to help. Our online program offers personalized career mentorship, pairing you with industry experts who can guide you in creating a resume that effectively demonstrates your qualifications for your desired roles. With their deep understanding of the tech hiring process, our experienced career coaches will support you every step of the way.
Ready to unlock your full potential? Apply to Pathrise today!