Expert job search advice.

How Long Should an Executive Resume Be?

How long should an executive resume be?

One of job seekers’ most frequently asked questions is, “How long should an executive resume be?” Unfortunately, a considerable amount of misleading information about resume writing is circulating on the internet. This advice is usually given by university career center staff to students, but it has been ingrained in our minds as an absolute truth. Consequently, even highly accomplished executives with 15 or 20 years of experience and career progression often adhere to this advice too rigidly.

We have encountered a Vice President of Marketing who dedicated hours to condensing their experience onto a single sheet. The margins were narrow, the text was minuscule, and there was no white space or breathing room. Consider this: it is impossible to adequately showcase a 20-year career journey when crammed into a one-page document.

It is simply impossible to adequately showcase a 20-year career journey when crammed into a one-page document.

Fortunately, longer resumes are now widely accepted by hiring managers. Forbes has acknowledged that the one-page resume rule is outdated. The Ladders 100K Club even equates using a one-page resume with including “references available upon request” at the bottom of your document. Both are unnecessary and no longer a requirement.

Research says a longer executive resume could be better

According to a study conducted by ResumeGo in 2018, recruiters have a 2.3 times higher preference for two-page resumes than one-page resumes, regardless of the candidate’s job level. The study also revealed that recruiters will invest up to twice as much time in reviewing a two-page resume. However, determining whether to use a one-page, two-page or even a three-page resume depends on various factors. Here are the key considerations to keep in mind:

1. Career Length and Experience

Individuals with longer careers and work experience will have more content to include on their resumes. Consequently, a two-page resume (or even longer) will allow them to highlight their extensive range of skills and achievements.

hiring managers spend a mere 6-7 seconds scanning applicants’ resumes

How many years of work experience equal a two-page resume? A good rule of thumb is that ten or more years of work experience will require a two-page resume.  But don’t include everything!  Condense earlier parts of your career to prioritize the most relevant material for your current job search on the first page. Recent research by says that hiring managers spend a mere 6-7 seconds scanning applicants’ resumes, so what you include on the first page is critically important.

2. Consider The Type of Industry 

In technical or academic industries, it is common to have resumes that span two pages or even longer, especially when including lists of certifications and publications. Cari Pisoni, who commented on a LinkedIn post, mentioned that in the technical field, it is nearly impossible to adequately showcase one’s experience on just one page, assuming they have more than a year of experience or multiple jobs. In the IT/Technical/Software Development industry, at least two pages are expected for individuals with over three years of experience, while three pages is considered more standard.

Two-Page Resume Format

If you choose a two-page or three-page executive resume, it is recommended that your executive summary, work experience, and skills be included on the first page. On the second page, you can include information about your early career, education, awards, and any board or community involvement.

Additional formatting tips for two-page resumes include:

  • Put your name and contact information in the resume header on page two and three. Do not include contact information in the header on page one as an ATS-system may not parse that space.
  • Avoid a short second page. If you discover that you have only a paragraph or even half a page of information on your second page,  edit it down to fit on one page by experimenting with font size and formatting. As a general rule of thumb, to justify an additional page, my personal philosophy is that the text should be at least a third of the way down the page.

Here is an example of a well-formatted two-page resume:

Sample of a Two-Page resume.

To learn more about the pros and cons of using a template, click here.

When is a One-Page Resume Appropriate?

A one-page resume is appropriate for recent graduates, entry-level job applicants (or others who have had shorter careers).  According to resume company, a good rule of thumb is to have a one-page resume if you have less than five years of experience.

For new graduates, career development expert Elaine Varelas has specific advice. “Use bullets, not paragraphs,” she says. “Also, administer the Who Cares test. Will a hiring manager be impressed?  Not every club you were part of matters. If you were a leader , an athlete, led a cause, or raised money, put it in the resume. If you like to read, knit, and play with your cat, leave it off!”

Regardless of the length of your resume, don’t forget to use the following three guidelines for all resumes:

Three-page executive resume?

Many of our executive clients with 20+ years of career experience need a three-page resume to tell their story well. We tend to put the “meat” or the most relevant (to the client’s future career targets) career highlights on page one of the resume. With longer documents, it is essential to incorporate some light design elements such as bolding of text, shading, and call-out boxes to break up the text and make it easier for the recruiter or hiring manager to consume the document.

Evergreen Rules for All Resumes 

rules for writing a resume and how long a resume should be

1. Customize Your Resume For Different Jobs

All too often, people write one resume and think they’re done. But think again! Customizing your resume to fit the needs of the different jobs you are applying for is critically important. 

“Customizing your resume is incredibly important,” says Tom Gerencer, career expert and CPRW. “You need to show in your bullet points that you’ve used the skills the job is asking for to great effect for past employers. That said, don’t grind your job search to a halt by meticulously customizing your resume for every application. Similar job postings will need similar skills, so you can use a one-size-fits-all approach to some extent.”

2. Use Keywords And Phrases

Use resume keywords and phrases to optimize your resume for the Application Tracking System (ATS).   According to, it is estimated that 99% of Fortune 500 companies use an ATS to automate their hiring process.  This means that it is not a person screening your resume but a machine, so it is imperative to include keywords and phrases directly related to the specific job description in your resume. 

Be sure to use high-quality keywords, not just ones related to the job title.  According to, a job search and HR site, high-quality keywords will help you stand out.  Their recommendation? Look closely at the job description and the company’s LinkedIn pages (as well as the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile) for how they describe themselves and what they are looking for.

3. Convey Your Value By Listing Achievements

One thing recruiters seem to agree on is making sure your resume succinctly conveys your value. Resume writer Adrienne Tom shared in a LinkedIn post, “Be sure to address the number one question every resume reader has: how can you help me?”

Tom Gerencer believes the cardinal sin regarding resumes is making them read like a job description. “If you only say you did the job duties listed in the online offer, then you’re making the hiring manager guess whether you did well or terribly. The good news? It’s so easy to stand out amid the pile of awful resumes…list achievements instead of job duties. Instead of saying, “Handled sales training,” say, “Trained 15 sales team members in outbound selling, with a 95% success rate, contributing to a $1.5M annual increase in revenue.”

Resume FAQs

  • How long should a resume be?
    • Increasingly, two-page resumes are not only acceptable but encouraged. If you have more experience or are in a technical or academic field, two pages (or longer) are expected.
  • How should a two-page resume be structured?
    • Important information such as work experience and skills should be on the first page. The second page should include education, awards, volunteer information, etc. 
  • Where do I put my name and contact info on a two-page resume?
    • Include the resume header (including your contact information) on both pages.
  • My second page only has a paragraph or two! What should I do?
    • Edit it to fit on one page by experimenting with font size and formatting.
  • Should I staple or paper clip my multi-page resume?
    • Paper clip it.
  • Should entry-level professionals have a two-page resume?
    • No. Generally, if you are entry-level, you should keep your resume one page. Think short and to the point.

Remember that more important than length is the quality of your resume. Make every word count and ensure it tells your career story.  If you do that, chances are people won’t even notice how long your resume is.



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