When it comes to your resume, there are various rules it's critical to follow. Make sure to read the job description and mirror some of the language as it pertains to your own experience. Quantify your accomplishments by using specific numbers to illustrate how much you've achieved. Write a summary that explains why you're the right candidate for the role.
When it comes to how much experience you should include, though, is there a best policy? Experts hotly debate the ideal length of a resume ― some say one page, others are adamant about two. Ultimately, all agree on one thing: Keep it relevant.
"You want to make sure that what you're showing on your resume aligns exactly with what the employer is looking for," says Octavia Goredema, career coach and author of "Prep, Push, Pivot."
Before writing or rejiggering your resume, read through the job description thoroughly, even multiple times if it helps. Take notes on patterns you're seeing in terms of desired skills, highlight the employer's priorities, and outline a list of experiences you have that fit directly into what this role would need.
Then, when building out your resume, start with the roles you did most recently that include tasks like the ones you could be doing for this role.
"Think of it like a funnel," says Julie Bauke, founder and chief career strategist with The Bauke Group. Expand at the top because "your most recent experience is the most relevant," she says. "And then you start to pare it back the longer you go down."
Give those recent roles the greatest number of bullets, then subtract bullets accordingly as you move down your line of experience.
If you decide you'd like to keep your resume to one page and you've had a long career, you can include some titles without bullet points to show what you were doing in those years; you can take them out altogether and ensure your summary gives a good sense of your career as a whole; or you can touch on them in your cover letter.
"A recruiter is going to know that might not be the totality of everything that you have done," says Goredema about the experience listed on your resume. "They get that, but they want to see what you're doing now."
If you decide to make your resume a little bit longer, you can include more of your roles and accomplishments. "If you did something early career that ties to what you want to do moving forward," says Bauke as an example, "then you should include it because it's part of your relevant story."
"But don't go over two pages and make sure it's readable and you've got plenty of white space," she says.
Bottom line, whether you send in a one-page resume, a two-page resume, or something in between, the most important thing is that it proves you have the skills it takes to excel in the position you're applying for.
Ultimately, when it comes to how much experience to include on your resume, "it's all about relevancy," says Goredema.
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