One-Page Resume Nonsense

Quick Summary: Providing relevant information should dictate the length of a resume.


The “rule” of restricting resumes to one page makes no sense.  The length of a resume should be determined by the amount of relevant information that the candidate feels is important to share with a perspective employer; not more, not less.  The key to creating a memorable resume is providing information that can help a reviewer determine your suitability for the position.  Focus on that information and have it determine the length of your resume instead of trying to adhere to some generalized rule.

It seems to be a universal recommendation that resumes should be restricted to one page.  This recommendation might be a good, general guideline, but certainly should not be a hard and fast rule.  The applicable content –whether it is one paragraph or four pages – should drive the length of the resume.  A recent high school graduate, for example, might have a very difficult time filling up a one-page resume, even with fourteen-point font and wide margins.  On the other hand, it would be sufficient for Peyton Manning or Tom Brady to submit a two-line resume that included their name and the address for the offer letter if they were applying for a quarterback coaching position!

The one-page resume advice is probably the result of too many resumes listing dozens and dozens of chronological activities – most of which have no relevance to the position in question.  Being a member of the French club, twenty years ago, probably is of no interest to anyone except, perhaps, someone interested in filling a position in France or French Guiana!

What is important is the inclusion of positive results that are relevant to the position under consideration.  The positive accomplishments should be listed according to their relevance.  State your result with quantitative terms whenever possible instead of general terms.  Use bulleted lists instead of lengthy (tiresome) paragraphs.

Once you have created interest based on your relevant results, the reviewer may be interested in your chronological history.  Make your employment history interesting:  If you received a line promotion, list both your previous and next position to show that your ability and performance were recognized and rewarded.

Make sure your resume portrays who you are in addition to what you have accomplished and what you want to do. Include a position-appropriate picture.  Posing in black-tie when applying for a lineman position is just an inappropriate as appearing with your cat jumping through a hula-hoop when applying for a COO position.  Format your resume so that it easy to read by humans but understand that the first step a company might take is to scan your resume into a text-based database.

Assume that the next to last section of your resume will never be reviewed.  Reviewers typically focus on the top portion and, if interested, may jump to the end.

Complete the text of your resume first, focusing on what you want the reviewer to know about you (not necessarily what you want to say).  Next, format it.  Then observe its overall length.  You will instinctively know if it is too long or too short or happens to fit on one page.


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