Many people assume that resumes are universal in length. The span of your career shouldn't impact how long your resume is, should it? Yes, it should! Let's examine a few specific examples:
Resume for Someone With No Career Related Work Experience, Fresh Out of School
If you have no career-related work experience and have just graduated from school, begin your resume with your education, including what degree you obtained and when you obtained it. If you have a high GPA (above 3.0), you might consider listing it. In addition, details from your school experience (such as relevant courses that make you a good match for the job opening or honors you earned) can be beneficial to include.
Someone with no career-related work experience only needs a 1-page resume. Should you include previous jobs, even if they aren't specific to the industry you are trying to work in? In short, yes. Including them demonstrates you have some of the soft skills required for the open position, such as time management, communication, and customer service.
Resume for Someone 3 Years into Their Career
Now that you have some work experience in your field, it's time to reorganize your resume. Move your education section to the end, and eliminate your GPA, classes and honors. Your newly condensed education section should just include the degree you earned and school it was obtained from. You can either include or omit the date of graduation.
Next, move your work experience section higher, so it catches the hiring manager's eye. A work experience section typically goes directly under the executive summary, or after key skills (if you decide to include that section). Within your work experience section, include a few bullets that show the accomplishments you achieved in your role. Start each bullet with an action verb and include specific details.
It is most likely your resume will still only be 1 page long at this point in your career, and that is perfectly fine. Depending on your spacing needs, you may want to remove the work experience that occurred during your education, particularly if it doesn't relate to your industry. The exception? If the job you're applying to requires a skill not represented in your more current roles, you may keep an older job in your resume that shows you have that expertise.
Resume for Someone 10 Years into Their Career
It is likely you now have more than 1 job to list on your resume related to your field of work. Maybe you received a promotion during your career, or maybe you switched companies completely. Either way, it is likely you will need 2 pages to capture all of your relevant skills and qualifications.
List the dates of all of your jobs, but remove your graduation date from your resume. Just list the degree obtained and the school you graduated from, as dates further back than 15 years are not necessary.
Writing an executive summary becomes easier the further into your career you get, because you will have a wealth of experience to pull from. Try not to make it too long, however...4-6 sentences are adequate.
Resume for Someone 25+ Years into Their Career
A resume for someone with such a lengthy, productive career brings new challenges, namely, evaluating what is relevant to include, and deciding what to omit.
Most hiring managers and recruiters only want to see a 2-page resume, but with a 25+ year career, it is easy to exceed that. Often it makes sense to eliminate the roles you had right after graduation, as those no longer pertain to where you want to go in your career. It may also be helpful to minimize the number of bullets included in older roles. Instead of 5-7 bullets for each, keep only the best 2 or 3.
As your career grows, often your executive summary does too. Try your best to keep it to only 4-6 sentences. Longer than that, and it is unlikely anyone will take the time to read it.
How you format your resume and the overall length of the document will vary depending on how much work experience you have. You will need to update your resume over the years to reflect this. Should you need help, reach out to Revision Resume. We know what hiring managers and recruiters are looking for at each point in a career trajectory!