How Long Should a Resume Actually Be? And Other Questions Answered

how long should a resume be

How long should a resume be? Do you need to hire a professional resume writer? How much employment history should you include? What size fonts should you use?

If you’re like most job seekers, you probably have lots of questions about how to create an effective resume. Read on to learn the answers to some of the most common – and important – resume-related questions.

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How Long Should a Resume Be?

How long should a resume be for a professional? How long should a resume be for a college student? Is a 3-page resume too long? How about a 4-page resume?

The answer to the question of long a resume should be is it depends. Every applicant is different, as is every job you apply to. The length of your resume should be driven not by any arbitrary page length, but rather the amount of information you have that is relevant to the job opening.

As an example, if you’re a recent college graduate, a one-page resume might be all you can put together – and that’s fine. If you have a few decades of relevant work experience, however, you may want and need to go with a two- or three-page resume.

That said, in most instances, shorter is better. You don’t want to leave out anything important, but you also don’t want to bury your major accomplishments in a barrage of less relevant details. This is why many job experts recommend creating a one- or two-page resume that includes only your career highlights and more recent employment information. You want to make an impact on the hiring manager, not bore him or her with more information than is necessary.

Do I Need to Hire a Professional Resume Writer?

Ask this question to a professional resume writer and he or she is likely to answer “yes.” While it’s true that a pro can help you quickly get to an effective result, you may not need to go to that expense. Pay attention to the details, focus on your strengths and how they apply to the open position, and you can do it yourself. If you have trouble targeting your strengths or are just a poor writer, however, don’t be embarrassed; a professional resume writer can definitely help.

Do I Need to Customize My Resume for Different Jobs?

When you’re in the market for a new job, one size does not fit all. You should have a master resume stored on your computer that you can then customize (slightly) for the needs of different employers. You’ll want to tweak your accomplishments to be relevant to the job at hand, and maybe even delete a few old employers if they’re not particularly germane. You don’t need to start completely from scratch for each new opportunity, but a little strategic customization doesn’t hurt.

Should My Resume Have a Career Objective Section?

In the past, it was common to see a section titled Career Objective(s) at the top of most resumes. This section was typically a sentence or two that detailed your immediate career goals.

Today, however, most career experts recommend against including this section in your resume. After all, the hiring manager knows you’re interested in the current job opening, you don’t have to spell it out. It ends up just taking up valuable space on the page that could be devoted to more unique and relevant information.

How Do I Select Keywords for My Resume?

Many employers today use automated applicant tracking systems (ATS) to scan submitted resumes for specific keywords relating to the open position. If your resume doesn’t include the right keywords, it may be summarily rejected.

It’s important, then to include the right keywords for each job to which you apply. Work through the job listing and note the most important words used by the employer, especially those in the job title and requirements sections. Make sure your resume includes those keywords in your employment history and skills sections.

How Much of My Employment History Should I Include?

The answer to this one depends on how long you’ve been in the job market. If you’re just out of school or have only been working for a half-dozen years, include all your jobs – including those during high school or college. If you have more work experience, you don’t have to include the older jobs. A good rule of thumb is to only list those positions you’ve held within the past 10-12 years – unless there is relevant employment previous to that. You should always list those jobs that are most relevant or similar to the one you’re currently seeking.

Do I Need to Describe My Previous Employers?

Given that the prospective employer might not be familiar with all the companies you’ve worked for, it’s a good idea to include a short (one-sentence) description of each previous employer you list in your resume. Don’t assume every businessperson knows every business out there, even in their own industry.

Should My Resume Include a Headshot?

Many career experts recommend against including a personal photo with your resume because you don’t want potential employers to judge or discriminate against you based on your looks. Others believe that including a photo can help recruiters remember you – and they’re going to see your picture anyway when they check out your social media profiles.

What Size Fonts and Margins Should I Use?

When formatting your resume, make sure the text is readable without being overwhelming. That means choosing a body font size no smaller than 10 points and no larger than 12 points. Format your headings a few points larger than the text.

As to margins, a 1-inch margin on all sides is pretty standards. If you need to fit a little more text on the page you can reduce the margins a tad, but don’t go under a half-inch.

Let Mapertunity Help You Find Your Next Job

When you’re polishing up your resume, let Mapertunity help you determine who to send it to. Mapertunity is the world’s first fully transparent, interactive job map. We help people find the right job in the right location – and target the best companies for your resume.

When you’re working on your resume, contact us at Mapertunity! We’re here to help.

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Why Everyone Is Including a Headshot on Their Resume (And Why You Should Too)

headshot on resume

The old adage says that a picture is worth a thousand words. That may also be true when it comes to submitting your resume. Adding a headshot to your resume may help your chances of landing a job interview – if you do it right.

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Should You Include a Photo on Your Resume: Yes or No?

Traditionally, hiring experts have advised against including a photo on your resume. That advice is changing, however, especially in our increasingly visual society. In fact, research shows that LinkedIn profiles with photos get up to 21 times more views and over 90% of recruiters rely on LinkedIn when making hiring decisions.

Is it a good idea to add a headshot to your resume? Let’s look at the pros and cons.

3 Reasons Not to Include a Headshot on Your Resume

When might it not be a good idea to include a headshot on your resume? There are three key reasons not to:

  • It’s not necessary. Most everyone today has photos on their LinkedIn and Facebook profiles, and hiring managers are looking at those. Why waste the limited space on your resume to include something recruiters are going to see elsewhere anyway?
  • It can be used to discriminate against you. Unless you’re a professional model or actor, how you look shouldn’t be criteria for getting hired. Hiring managers can, consciously or not, view your photo and discriminate against you based on your appearance, age, race, or gender. You don’t want to include anything in your resume that can work against getting hired.
  • Some companies automatically reject resumes with photos. Elaborating on the potential bias, many companies have a hard-and-fast policy of not accepting any resumes with photos, in order to avoid any claims of discrimination – and possible lawsuits from rejected job applicants.

3 Reasons to Include a Headshot on Your Resume

Those issues aside, many job applicants are finding success by including headshots on their resumes. There are several good reasons to include a personal photo, including:

  • It’s memorable. Including a photo on your resume helps recruiters put a face to your name. When you add a headshot, they’re more likely to remember your resume.
  • It can show off your skills. If your picture is more than a headshot, you may be able to supplement your written resume by showing some of your skills. Include a photo that displays some of your work so recruiters can see what you’re capable of.
  • They’re going to see it anyway. Hiring managers are going to check your social media profiles and will see what you look like. Including a picture with your resume shouldn’t increase the odds of being discriminated against.

What to Wear for Your Resume Photo

If you choose to include a photo with your resume, you want to make every aspect of that photo work for your benefit. What you wear and how you look are important, especially when making a first impression with hiring managers.

First and foremost, make sure that you’re wearing appropriate clothing in the photo. You want to dress for the job you’re seeking so that potential employers know that you will fit in with the culture of the company. If the company is business casual, don’t take a picture in a suit and tie. If it’s a traditional office environment, wear something nicer than jeans and a t-shirt. For your resume portrait, wear the right “uniform” for the job.

In addition, make sure your clothes are current. Some people pay attention to fashion styles, and wearing a tie that’s too thin or a dress in last season’s colors could make you look out of date.

5 Resume Portrait Tips

Just as your personal appearance makes a big impact when you first meet someone, how you look in your resume photo is also important. Follow these five tips to make the headshot on your resume look as great as possible.

1. Avoid Distracting Backgrounds

You want the focus of your photo to be on you, not on what’s behind or around you. For that reason, shoot in front of a simple background. Simple, neutral colors are good and it’s best to avoid busy patterns. The big exception to this is if you’re shooting yourself at work or with your finished work. In this case, an equal focus on you and your work is acceptable.

2. Make It Look Professional

A badly shot, amateurish-looking photo will tell the recruiter that you’re not a professional and that you don’t care. The photo should be carefully framed, lit, and cropped. It also needs to be in focus and shot at an acceptable resolution.

3. You Don’t Need to Hire a Photographer

Your headshot doesn’t have to be shot by a professional photographer. Today’s phone cameras take really great pictures at high resolution, more than good enough for a resume portrait. Even better, if your camera has a portrait mode that blurs the background, use it – it puts all the focus on your face.

4. Keep It Simple

If you’re a woman, don’t get too fancy with your hair and makeup. Go with a classic and natural look. It’s a picture of yourself for business, not a professional headshot for a modeling job. Unless you’re applying for a modeling job, that is.

If you’re a man, make sure your hair and facial hair are neatly trimmed and clean. Get a haircut beforehand if you need one. Try to look your best – without looking as if you’re trying too hard.

5. Smile

Nobody wants to hire a sullen employee. Try to look happy and comfortable in the photo – like someone the recruiter would actually like to meet.

Use Mapertunity to Find Your Next Position

Whether or not you include a headshot on your resume, let Mapertunity help you find your next career opportunity. Mapertunity is the world’s first fully transparent, interactive job map. We help people find the right job in the right location – no matter what you look like.

When you’re looking for a new position, contact us at Mapertunity! We’re here to help.

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Is There a Benefit to Putting Volunteer Experience on Your Resume?

Benefit of Volunteer Experience on Resume

When you’re applying for a new job, you have many decisions to make regarding what to include on your resume. Obviously, you need to highlight educational and previous work experience, but what about volunteer experience? Should you include your volunteer experience on your resume – and if so, which experiences should you highlight?

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Why Including Volunteer Experience on Your Resume Is a Good Idea

Here’s the bottom line: adding volunteer work to your resume can help you stand out above other candidates for a given job. That’s because 82% of hiring managers like to pick resumes that include volunteer experience.

Including volunteer experience on your resume can help detail skills useful to the available position. It also shows that you’re a civic-minded individual, which is a good thing. Volunteer skills can also help fill in any gaps in your resume.

Who should include volunteer work in their resumes? The short answer is, everyone, if you have it. Including volunteer experiences is especially useful if:

  • You’re a recent graduate with little previous work experience. Volunteer work will fill in the gaps in demonstrating your skills.
  • You have limited professional experience, especially in this given industry. Again, volunteer work takes the place of relevant job experience.
  • You’ve been away from the workplace for a significant period of time. This especially applies to parents who’ve taken time off to raise small children or those who’ve stayed at home to care for sick family members.
  • You’ve been unemployed for a lengthy period of time. Listing volunteer work shows that you’ve been busy, even in a down economy.
  • You’re switching careers and your prior job experience doesn’t adequately demonstrate skills necessary for the new position. Your volunteer experiences can show that you have skills valued by the new industry.

Emphasizing volunteer work on your resume is particularly important if it is directly related to the job to which you’re applying. For example, if you’ve volunteered at an animal shelter and are applying for a job at a veterinarian’s office, including that volunteer work is a huge plus. It shows you have experience with – and interest – in animals, which makes you a strong candidate for the job.

Volunteer work also shows your commitment to the community, and to helping others. This should align with most employers‘ values and show that you’re a caring and trustworthy individual. Companies are looking for more people with that kind of character.

When Not to Include Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

You don’t necessarily have to list all your volunteer experiences on your resume. There are some types of volunteer work that won’t help you get a job with some employers.

First, if a particular volunteer situation has absolutely no bearing on the available job, think twice about including it. You want to highlight transferable skills, and if the skills aren’t transferable, they won’t help you much. Use the space for something more relevant.

Second, you want to avoid listing volunteer experiences that might be considered polarizing. For example, volunteering for a political campaign might earn you points with an employer who voted for that candidate or party, but get the door slammed in your face if the employer supported the opposition. Similarly, while including general church volunteer work on your resume is probably a good idea, work for more controversial religious organizations could prove detrimental – especially if your potential employer is opposed to the positions of that group.

Finally, don’t put volunteer work on your resume if it occurred more than ten years ago. Including older or less relevant volunteer experiences can look like filler and cause hiring managers to devalue the rest of your resume.

The Most Impressive Volunteer Work for Your Resume

What’s the best volunteer work to include on your resume? Let’s look at some of the best types of volunteer ideas for your resume.

Relevant Experiences

First and foremost are those volunteer experiences that are directly related to the position for which you’re applying. That could mean volunteer work in a related industry or work that involves related skills.

For example, volunteer work at a blood bank or free clinic would be of interest to employers in the health care industry. Volunteer work designing brochures or websites would be of interest to any firm hiring for marketing positions.

Passionate Causes

Employers respect people with passion. If you volunteer for a cause that you are passionate about, that probably means you’ll be passionate about your new job, too.

Skill Training

Volunteer work that includes detailed training in a particular skill will catch the attention of hiring managers. Employers are looking for hires that they don’t have to train on the job; if you got that training through volunteer work, all the better. For example, if you volunteered for a nonprofit organization that provided leadership training, that will give you distinct advantage over other job applicants without that type of prior training.

Full-Time Work

Employers appreciate applicants who show a commitment to their work. Volunteering a few hours a week is great, but devoting the commitment commensurate with a 40 hour per-week position demonstrates that you are the kind of dedicated worker most employers are looking for.

How to Include Volunteer Experience on Your Resume

There are two places you can add volunteer experience to your resume.

First, if it’s work that includes skills relevant to the job you’re seeking, you can include your volunteer experiences in the Job Experience section, but rename the section simply Experience. This is a particularly good approach if your resume is otherwise lacking in prior experience.

Second, you can create a separate section for Volunteer Experience. This may be the better approach if the volunteer positions aren’t directly related to the job at hand.

Wherever you list your volunteer work, make sure you fully describe your volunteer experience and highlight the relevant skills earned. Make sure you fine-tune these skills to what the specific employer is looking for.

Let Mapertunity Help You Find Your Next Job

Are you currently in the job market? Mapertunity is the world’s first fully transparent, interactive job map. We help people find the right job in the right location – and can help you land your ideal job.

If you’re looking for a new job, contact us at Mapertunity! We’re here to help.

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