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2019 Hiring Insights | Part 2, Resumes

Alexis Perrotta

three women in office

Earlier this year, we asked 105 hiring managers and HR professionals to share their insights into the hiring process.

They came back to us with everything from their take on resume length to how much time they really spend reviewing your materials. And over the next few weeks, we'll share our biggest takeaways right here.

The unspoken rules of resume length

Resume length can be a bit of a tightrope walk for job seekers. You want to include all of your relevant professional and academic experience on your resume, but if you end up with a short novel, you run the risk of inviting the hiring manager to flip through one or two pages, and move on (sigh).

We asked our network of hiring managers and HR professional what they think about resume length. Here's what they had to say:

resume info

Basically, if you haven't been in the workforce for more than a few years, have yet to acquire your PhD, and/or are not Michelle Obama, we recommend doing your level best to keep your resume to one page (maximum of two).

How much time does your resume really have before a hiring manager moves on to the next applicant?

Resume length is just one reason that a hiring manager may gloss over your resume a little faster than you'd like. A few more reasons for a hiring manager to move on to the next applicant?

  • If you've got a typo or two in your materials
  • You didn't follow the application instructions
  • Your cover letter or resume are too long and/or hard to follow/find the story.

According to our survey respondents, your time in front of a hiring manager is indeed limited. Most of our respondents said that they spend no more than seven minutes on an initial screen of applicant materials.

resume info

So, if you only have seven minutes on the clock, you'll want to be sure that you give a hiring manager every reason to pour over your resume and cover letter. Be sure to:

  • Proof read, proof read, and proof read again. Then, give it to a friend or family member and ask them to review for you as well.
  • Challenge yourself to cut your resume and cover letter in half. In reality, you probably won't be able to actually edit out 50% of your resume, but it's a good exercise to make sure you're only including what is necessary.
  • Customize your resume for the job (and organization) for which you're applying.
  • Make sure you spell the name of the recipient correctly (and that you're generally following all application instructions).
  • Include your contact information (you want to make it as easy as possible for a hiring manager to reach out to you for next steps).
  • Include the specifics. When reviewing your resume, a hiring manager should never have to ask how success on a particular task or project was measured. Those numbers should be included.

For more articles on developing your perfect resume (and keeping it current), check out our Resume and Cover Letter content on Idealist Careers.

Alexis Perrotta

As the Senior Editor at Idealist and a lifelong nonprofit professional, Alexis offers job seekers, game changers, and do gooders actionable tips, career resources, and social-impact advice.

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