how many words should a resume be

How Many Pages Should Your Resume Be? — According to Research

I opened a resume file the other night that scared me. It used a tiny font and had no white space. I had an instant flight response.

Then I found myself asking, “How many words are in this thing?”

That was followed by, “How long should a resume be?”

Back to the scary resume — it contained two pages and 1,121 words. I didn’t want to read it. Ever.

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

I decided to do a little research. I opened some of my resume clients’ files and checked the number of words in their two-page resumes.

Yes, two pages — we don’t write longer resumes.

They averaged between 550 and 750 words rendered in 11-point Calibri font. A 757-word resume looked cramped to me.

Resume Word Count Guidelines

Let’s compare how many words you have in your resume to what research says is optimal.

First, check your word count. Look in the lower left corner of your document. You should see “XXX words.”

If not, then count the number of words in your resume by clicking the Word “Tools” menu and then clicking “Word Count.”

Still stumped? This video shows all for Word 2013, Word 2016, and Word 365!

Next, don’t exceed 700 words because research published by found that 600 to 700-word resumes get the highest employer ratings on their sites.

If you’re north of 700 words, you might be sharing information that’s dear to you but not to recruiters and hiring managers.

Plus, I guarantee your resume is not as visually appealing as it might be.

How Many Pages Should Your Resume Be?

A recruiter survey conducted by RiseSmart found that 60% of the respondents preferred a two-page resume.

Only 18% said you should use as many pages as you please. That means four out of five recruiters don’t want to read your three-page resume. Bad odds.

More recently, ResumeGo ran a study that CBS News reviews here that found recruiters have a distinct preference for two-page resumes.

Make Recruiters Like You by Being Easy on Their Eyes

Make recruiters like you by giving them the information they want in a simple, easy-to-read font and format.

You can click through to some illustrative samples here.

Recruiters will spend more time reading your resume if it’s on point to their needs and preferences.

What are recruiters’ needs and preferences? Go here to find out about what researchers learned when they asked recruiters what they like when they “like” a resume.

Image: Fotolia/
Updated March 2019

© 2013 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 2

  1. Great advice, especially in the private sector. I will say that in the federal government, HR offices are not allowed to penalize lengthy resumes in any way. This is by regulation, and as a result, we often see 5-10 page monsters that we are obliged to read through!

  2. I feel a nightmare coming on…five to ten pages, aaaaaaack!!!!!! Hopefully you get hazardous duty pay for that!

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