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I've recently come to learn that three to five-page resumes are common (and possibly standard, especially for contractors) for developers, so I'm overhauling mine. I'm relieved to no longer have to jam everything into one page. For now I'm just shooting for two pages, but whatever number, this makes for new considerations...

One is that I've also recently learned that capabilities (languages, software, technologies) should be on the first page, and even first, before experience.

But THAT means that my experience will need to span from the bottom half of page one to the top half of page two, followed by education, awards, clients, etc.

My question is, is it awkward to have experience spanning multiple pages? I've always felt that experience should come first, but I guess that was an assumption.

I see TONS of examples of developer resumes that are just one page, and I've seen experienced friends' resumes where TONS of information is crammed all on one page. But I thought a resume was a summary, and that non-100%-relevant information should be omitted in favor of more relevant information for a resume (in contrast to a CV where nothing is summarized).

I should note that that recruiter may be as unclear as I am on this. I did ask about resume vs CV, and he didn't answer that directly, but continued referring to my application material as a 'resume'.

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    Not an answer to this specific question but useful additional information about resume length: workplace.stackexchange.com/a/168567/64920 – Jeroen Feb 5 at 10:35
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    Should you really put "capabilities" before experience though? It seems to me that those are pretty meaningless unless backed up by actual work experience. – Peter Feb 5 at 13:12
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    The fast is there are "dfifferent types" of resumes for different situations. Dunno if that helps. – Fattie Feb 5 at 14:16
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In my field, a five page resume would be absolutely unheard of. Three pages would be considered very long. One page would be typical for a junior level position and two for a senior position. But if you've determined that for someone in your field and your experience level, the norm is three to five pages, then I'd suggest

  1. stick to the short end of the normal range. You won't get much benefit to being longer than average
  2. Put absolutely all of the important stuff on page 1. Assume that nobody reads page 2 unless they are super impressed by page 1. Assume that nobody reads page 3 unless they have already decided to give you an interview based on pages 1-2.

So, if that means that your Experience section has to be split between the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2, make sure absolutely everything important is on page 1. e.g. if the job posting asks for experience in X, make sure that is on page 1, preferably on the top half. If you then later apply for a different job posting asking for experience in Y, re-arrange things such that Y ends up on page 1 and push X to page 2. In other words, make your resume very targeted towards each specific job. Make sure whatever they are asking for is very easy to find, and not buried towards the back.

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For a resume, generally the standard format is one page. In this case, experience can generally be added or omitted, since the resume should be tailored to the specific job that one is applying for, anyway.

But for a CV (at least from the ones I've seen by academics), it is generally supposed to contain all information regarding experience. In the case of academia, experience is not just limited to a list of where you've worked. This can include your publications, awards, fellowships, and grants during your PhD, post doc, and other subsequent work experiences, as well as students you've supervised if you go on to be a professor. So it is pretty normal for these CV's to be several pages long.

But you should be aware that there are different types of "resume/CV" for different types of jobs/roles and that these people will likely look for different things (and as such, different types of summarizing your experience and how you fit best for the role at hand). Generally, applying to an academic role will be asking for different things as opposed to if you were applying to a software development role right out of your undergraduate. The academic role will be asking for all your research history, whereas the software development role is more likely to focus on your pure programming skills as opposed to your academic skills (and nothing too much more).

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  • "experience can generally be added or omitted", I'm not exactly sure I follow that statement. If you're saying I don't need experience on my resume, I've never heard of that. – BBaysinger Feb 8 at 11:13
  • This is more applicable to a one page resume as even as you gain more experience, the resume should still be one page. Resumes should be tailored to the specific job you're applying to, so some picking and choosing may be needed to best represent you for the job you're applying/interviewing for. – Daveguy Feb 8 at 15:33
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Have a set of "boilerplate" paragraphs that you can insert, then choose which ones to actually use in each job that you are applying to. State in the opening that the resume is not intended to describe "a continuous chronology of time."

Speaking from experience, people look over a resume only for a few seconds. This is therefore a sales piece that must get directly to the point, and be specific to the intended sales pitch.

Contrary to the old saw about "term papers," employers do not throw stacks of resumes down the steps and select the one at the bottom.

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Thinking about it, if anyone happens to have a three-to-five-page resume/CV, then the experience section spanning several pages is probably absolutely necessary anyhow...

And there's probably no harm in just going for it, and asking recruiters if there's any problem with that, or if it's standard...

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There's no way to answer the question without knowing 1) where you are and 2) what your experience/ background is.

I've had a 3-page CV for the last years and got only positive feedback from employers about how clear, structured and well-designed it is.

But then, people who have been more focused in the past and who have focused on one area and spent their whole career at one employer probably don't need 3 pages.

A resume/ CV is a document you sell yourself with. You should adjust it to make it sell you as well as possible and adjust it to the culture you're using it in.

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  • Don't need what? Experience on their resume? – BBaysinger Feb 8 at 11:36

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