How Many Pages Should My Civilian Resume Be?

How Many Pages Should My Civilian Resume Be

I always tell my veteran clients that their resume should be a maximum of two pages to clearly showcase their experience, skills, and achievements. Remember, your resume is a marketing opportunity to show why you’re the best candidate for the job.

While we say that your resume tells your story, the intent of your civilian resume is to provide brief insight into your professional experience, not tell your entire life story. Past experiences that do not have a connection the job you want should not be included in your resume. Only relevant information is necessary. However, past experience will work to your benefit as you create your veteran LinkedIn profile, whether the experience connects with the job or not. 

The resume is an essential document that will follow you throughout the course of your chosen career path. Your military to civilian resume provides recruiters and hiring managers with a bird’s eye view of your skills, experience, and accomplishments. At Empire Resume, we remind our veteran clients that the resume tells your story – who you are, what you did, when and where you did it, and why you’re good at doing it.

Create a Vision for Your Resume

Before you begin the writing process, take some time to create a vision for the resume. Your vision will help you decide what you want the resume to look like and allow you to visualize the end result. Make sure your vision includes the resume format and:

  • The font
  • Size of the font
  • Color scheme
  • Spacing and margins
  • Organization of information

Empire Resume’s Recommended Resume Format for Veterans

Understanding resume formatting is important because resumes come in five different categories: 1) chronological, 2) functional, 3) combined, 4) skills, and 5) performance. We recommend that veteran job finders use the chronological format for your civilian resume as it clearly establishes a timeline of your professional experience and guides the recruiter along the history of your work journey.

The chronological format is a simple layout of your professional summary, work experience and education. This resume format displays your work experience in a detailed, chronological order or in such a way that reflects your experience by the time period in sequence, happening one after another.

For instance, let’s imagine that you worked in a unit from January 2018 until December 2018. In January 2019, you transferred units and held an entirely different position. Although your experience occurs in a time sequence, list the experience in reverse chronological order on your resume. Meaning, the recruiter should see your most recent experience first. As an example, your resume will look something like this:


Flight Chief – Hill AFB, UT (January 2019-Present)

Paragraph containing brief job summary goes here.

  • Bullet points with measurable achievements go here
  • Bullet points with measurable achievements go here

Flight Leader – Hill AFB, UT (January 2018 – December 2018)

Paragraph containing brief job summary goes here.

  • Bullet points with measurable achievements go here
  • Bullet points with measurable achievements go here

For more information on the chronological resume and the four remaining resume categories, review our article on resume formats as you may be interested in using the other formats in the future.

Once you’ve created your vision for the resume, compiled and organized any relevant information, you can begin concerning yourself with the length of your civilian resume.

Factors that Affect Resume Length

How Many Pages Should My Civilian Resume Be

Do not be discouraged if your resume is one page. This does not mean that a recruiter or hiring manager will not consider your resume. An Eye Tracking Study performed by Ladders, the leading career site for jobs $100,000 and over, shows that recruiters skim resumes for details. For this reason, a one-page resume is ideal.

The study even suggests that in 2018, the average recruiter spent a mere 7.4 seconds reviewing resumes. In 2017, the timeframe was a shocking 6 seconds. These 7.4 seconds are the difference between getting noticed and patiently waiting for the phone to ring or waiting for an email to arrive in your inbox.

Having a one-page resume is possible because there are several factors that affect the length of your resume. These factors include the following:

  • Job industry

Every industry has a unique standard for resume length. The engineering industry values one-page resumes while the legal industry prefers two-page resumes. Do some research to see which resume length is best for the industry you’re looking to enter.

  • Your years of experience

The number of years you were in the military affects the length of your resume as well. If you were in the military for 4 years, your resume may be able to fit one page. Or, if you were in the military for over 10 years, your experience will be more extensive, making your resume longer.

The key to creating your resume and determining the best length for you is to use relevant experience for the job you’re seeking, no matter the years of professional experience you have. If 5 out of 10 of those years of experience don’t apply to the job, the experience is irrelevant to your resume. 

  • Achievements

Achievements are self-explanatory. The more relevant achievements you have, the more achievements to list on your resume. You should quantify your achievements with numbers.

  • The number of positions held

If you only held one position in the military, the length of your resume will be limited. However, if you held multiple relevant positions, this will affect the length of your resume with the potential of making it longer than the two-page maximum.

  • Relevancy of information

This area is self-explanatory as well. Unnecessary information should not be listed on your resume. For example, the fact that you were the captain of your ultimate frisbee team, who is the reigning ultimate frisbee champion of your respective military base, should not be included in your resume. This may be a fun fact to include on your veteran LinkedIn profile though.

Here’s a tip to prevent discouragement regarding the length of your resume. If one area of your resume is limited, your resume can still shine by highlighting other areas. Some veterans have a long history of experience, but their education is not as lengthy. If this is the case for you, make sure to expand on other areas such your experience, skills and achievements to show the hiring manager what you can do for the company.

Important Things to Include in a Civilian Resume

Aside from resume length, you must be aware of the items to include in your civilian resume. Important items to include in your civilian resume include:

  • Accurate and most recent contact information (phone number, email, etc.)
  • Your LinkedIn URL. (
  • A Summary to showcase an overview your value
  • Professional experience
  • Achievements
  • Keywords relevant to the career opportunity
  • Skills (also known as areas of expertise or core competencies)
  • Education
  • Relevant certifications

Achievements Set You Apart from the Competition

How Many Pages Should My Civilian Resume Be

The potential for candidates to have similar experience is high. What sets you apart from the competition is your achievements. Your achievements alone will make you stand out and get noticed, when you use them properly in your resume. Want to know more about listing your achievements? Read the article on how to include achievements in your resume.

The question you should always be prepared to answer on your resume is, “What value do you bring?” Understanding and identifying your value is what will separate you from candidates who simply execute or implement processes with no idea of how their value really impacts the company.

To identify your impactable achievements ask yourself these questions as you write your civilian resume:

  • How did I increase efficiency here?
  • Did I negotiate with vendors? How did it benefit the unit?
  • Did I consistently meet or exceed a target?
  • Did I receive recognition for outstanding performance?

Before preparing your resume, review our military to civilian resume examples to get an idea of what to include in your resume, how to organize your resume, and even use the reverse chronological order for your resume.

As we mentioned previously, your resume is a marketing document that makes it easy for the recruiter to notice you. Because your resume is not a full life story, below you’ll discover what to leave off your civilian resume.

What to Leave Off Your Civilian Resume

Writing a resume takes time and plenty of thought. Naturally, veterans tend to speak military during their transition to the civilian workforce. Doing so can confuse a hiring manager and make it difficult to understand how well you perform and how your performance will help the hiring manager’s company with its needs. Be sure to leave these items off your resume:

  • Military jargon and acronyms

Leave off military jargon because the civilian world cannot relate to phrases such as Charlie Mike. For example, if you say, “Under my leadership, my unit saved $1.5 million dollars on new equipment. Because of this, we were able to Charlie Mike and move on to the next task.” The recruiter has no idea what Charlie Mike means. Could he or she take the time to Google the phrase? Yes.

As a veteran, your job is to make your resume easy for the hiring manager to understand at all levels. Don’t make the recruiter waste time researching acronyms when he or she could use that time calling you to arrange an interview.

  • Military Training

For instance, let’s say you were in the Army in the 10th Mountain Division and eventually completed Ranger School. As veterans, we all know that Ranger School is the toughest school the Army offers and it is well-respected, no doubt. But if you are applying for a job as a software developer, this type of training does not correlate to the job description.

On the other hand, if the job you’re seeking is in homeland security or law enforcement, including this type of military training on your resume may suffice. Rather than labeling the course Ranger School, try listing it as a leadership course where you were trained in tactics, battle drill maneuvers and, of course, leadership and discipline.

The bottom line is if the training is not relevant to the civilian job, leave it out of your resume and list it on your veteran LinkedIn profile instead.

  • Ribbons/Awards

Names of ribbons and awards that do not translate well into the civilian world should be left out of your resume. To show your pride in receiving those ribbons, you would do well to include them on your veteran LinkedIn profile.

  • Old or Dated Information

In order to prevent age discrimination, your experience, education, and other information should not exceed 15 years

  • Supervisor Names and Confidential Information

Be mindful of using names and other confidential information on your resume. In the military, it is important for other people to know who your commander is, as your commander or supervisor is listed on your performance reviews.

In the civilian world, and especially on your resume, your supervisor’s name, pay grade and other extensive details regarding personal information that may open the door to your previous pay scale should not be revealed.

Once you complete your resume, it is important to keep it updated and use multiple cover letters depending upon the career options you’re seeking. Many civilians with extensive experience in several industries enhance their career options by tailoring their cover letter directly to the hiring manager and job they’re seeking.

Empire Resume Helps Veterans Get the Job They Deserve

How Many Pages Should My Civilian Resume Be

Your civilian resume will follow you throughout the course of your civilian career. Always remember that your civilian resume must be no more than two pages and tailored to the job and/or industry that you’re seeking.

When you need help preparing your civilian resume or have questions about getting started with a civilian resume, reach out to Empire Resume Career Services. We’ve helped thousands of veterans get the job they deserve, and watched them achieve career success with our military to civilian resume writing assistance, and we know we can do the same for you.

Dr. Phillip Gold is President/CEO of Empire Resume and has vast experience writing resumes for service-members transitioning from the military into civilian roles. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Air Force responsible for leading nuclear missile security. Phillip is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and holds a BA in Communications from The Ohio State University, an MS in Instructional Technology, an MBA in Finance, and a PhD in Finance.

How Many Pages Should My Civilian Resume Be?

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