The quick answer is that it depends on the job in question and the experience level of the position.
Some resume and recruiting experts will say you are wasting your time if you go beyond two pages. They remind you that a resume is a summary of recent experience, not a grocery list of every job you've ever had.
Don't waste people's time, they say. Get to the point. Do not force human resources people and recruiters to read six pages of boring technical details. Make sure you have the most important keywords, terms and certifications, and move on. Use the cover letter to discuss the broadest range of experience that relates to the position you're applying for and why you specifically would be a potential good fit.
But some IT recruiters--like Sapphire Technologies Recruiting Manager Shana Westerman--say the time spent with a detailed and possibly long resume could be the difference between getting a call for an interview or not. Westerman's views on IT resumes were recently profiled on CIO.com in the article "IT Resumes: Think Twice About the Advice You've Been Given."
Regarding the length of resumes, Westerman indicated that she believes the details are more important than ever, especially in a tough economic climate.
"She believes that the recession and the multitudes vying for tech jobs has changed the nature of IT resumes. The IT hiring managers Westerman serves aren't interested in short summary documents, she says. They want details, details, details, and often that means a three- or more page resume.With so many people applying for IT jobs, Westerman says her clients want to be able to make informed decisions about which candidates are worth interviewing based on a resume that communicates the technologies with which an IT professional has worked, the depth of experience they have with each technology, the size and scope of the projects on which they've worked, and how they achieved various accomplishments, she says."They look for details so they don't have to make assumptions about what people did," Westerman says of her clients. "They want to see in black and white that certain skill sets are definitely held by this person. They want to be crystal clear on what this person is capable of doing and what they've done in the past.""
Resumes for jobs in IT management might need a more streamlined approach and fewer technical details, so keep that in mind. The key is to have a basic framework that you can customize for each job. There is no one-size-fits-all mantra here. Do what makes sense for the position at hand.
But don't skimp on the cover letter. Customize that too. Make sure your cover letter explains your career's narrative and why you believe you are the person for the gig.