Career Advice

Expert Advice: How Long Should A Resume Be?

While most operators of bungee jumping sites are not typically physics experts, they do rely on tables generated by experts. These tables are used to determine chord diameter and static line length, based on the weight of the jumper and the desired maximum distance of the jump. Most would agree there is no possible way to use one particular length of rope that would be suitable for all jumpers in all situations.

Bungee jumping is a great example of the fact that cookie-cutter strategies are not suitable to all activities or projects.

Resumes are another prime example of this fact. Yet, this idea seems to be constantly challenged. As a professional writer of career documents, I have a particularly difficult time understanding clients who have balked at the length of their resume based on what some third-party advisor has told them. Here are four reasons why a resume, like a bungee cord, should be as LONG as needed to sustain the reader’s interest.

  • Shortening Your Resume to Meet Subjective “Rules” May Derail Your Message: While I agree that the resume should only be as long as is necessary to relay all of the pertinent information the client wishes to present, I am concerned when a client wishes to shorten this all-important document just for the sake of having it fit neatly into a certain-sized box. Doing so can be as detrimental as having a bungee jumper hit their head on the bottom of the platform from which they are jumping because the rope was too short.
  • Extending the Rope to Facilitate Your Rich Story Will Better Convey Your Value: If you are a job seeker with a vast and varied background, it would be hard to deny the fact that your story will require more ‘rope’ to convey that information than a recent college grad who is new to the job market.
  • Creating a Sensation (within limits) Will Enrich the Reader Experience: I personally have never been bungee jumping and have little intention of doing so. But from what I understand, the length of the free-fall seems to be the determining factor in the overall joy of the jump. Though this may be true, I suspect that even that sensation has its limits. Too much of a free-fall may lead to a person losing consciousness or worse, which I’m sure would greatly diminish the experience for most people.
  • Bolstering the Reader’s Interest Is Imperative to Determining Resume Length: But let’s assume there are no human limits to our body’s ability to free-fall indefinitely, jumpers would likely as not become bored and wish for an end to the fall. With regards to the length of a resume, the same can be said. It should only last for as long as it can sustain the reader’s interest.

That being said, I wholeheartedly agree that a resume can be too long — particularly if that length is simply filled with fluff and absent any real message.  But as long as the information is relevant and disseminates information crucial to the reader, it should not be cut short in any way.

In so many instances I’ve seen meaty, relevant resume messages soar past their competition, using strategies that convey not only the results the candidate will produce, but also ‘how’ and ‘why’ he took the course of action in surmounting the hurdle, bursting through barriers or influencing resistors to come aboard with his strategic plan. In a recent example, this sales manager evoked his commitment to relationship and trust building, as well as revenue and profit growth, despite the inherent personality challenges within an agency environment.

So, the next time someone tells you your resume is too long, consider taking it upon yourself to read through the document. Once you have done so, consider what information you would really want left out and if leaving out that information would shorten your rope to the point that the jumper using it may not enjoy the experience.