Q&A: How Long Should A Resume Be?

Before I answer the question on how long a resume should be or how many pages should your CV have, let me give you a brief background about how HR personnel and hiring managers evaluate job applicants and candidates.

The HR department receives hundreds – sometimes thousands – of resumes every week for in-demand positions. This is particularly true for MNCs, Fortune 500 companies, as well as top corporations in Singapore which every jobseeker dream of getting into. And with hiring managers only have 8-10 hours in a day, it would really seem impossible to screen all resumes that come in.

The Use of Automated CV Scanners

To help pad out thousands of resumes the HR department receive on a weekly basis, many companies now use automated CV scanners and programs that initially screen each document electronically based on specific keywords relevant to the position being filled out. This way, candidates whose resumes do not match the company’s requirements are automatically filtered out, significantly trimming down the number of resumes to be manually evaluated by the HR manager.

To ensure that your resume gets through the CV scanner, there are sample online tools available that you can use before sending your resume and revise accordingly. Check out this automated CV scanner we use for our clients.

2nd Round of CV Screening

If the CV scanner has filtered out 200 irrelevant resumes during the first round of vetting, for example, and still leaves the hiring managers with 75 CVs to evaluate, this is still not an easy job to do, especially if they only need to get one or two candidates from the pool. Therefore, it is important for your CV to really stand out — to speak about how amazing you are and why you are the most ideal person for the position.

The critical thing to note here is that hiring managers don’t have the luxury of time to go through each resumes in detail and read the entire document. If your CV is 5-pages long, for instance, the HR staff will more likely not finish reading your resume.

The order of the sections of your CV, thus, plays a critical role here, too. If your important qualifications, skills, and certifications are shown at the 4th or 5th page of your resume, there is a big chance that all these will be ignored. And your resume might not get through the final round of vetting, making all your efforts useless and your dream of landing your ideal job wasted.

Thus, How Long Should a Resume Be?

The general rule here is: the shorter, the better.

If you can fit all your resume details in only 1 page, then that would be best. However, with many jobseekers and as with most of our clients, this is not always possible, especially if you have a long work history to show.

If a one-pager CV is not possible, 2 pages should be the maximum length. Anything more than this reduces your chance of getting properly screened – unless you have a really, really, really impressive CV.

To summarise, make your CV as short and as concise as possible with all the important details on page 1 — catching the attention of the hiring manager and convincing him to read all the way until the end.

Check out these resume samples we’ve produced for various positions and industries in Singapore and how we keep them brief and relevant.

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If you found our post on How Long a Resume Should Be useful, check out the following related Q&A posts, too:

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Adrian Tan

Former Headhunter

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