After more than two decades in the Executive Search
business, I have learned a lot about what goes into a
successful hire. I try to impart my knowledge to both hiring
managers and candidates. Nevertheless, at many job
interviews I find myself listening to questions that make me
cringe and answers that make me want to cry.
Now it's my turn to talk.

Monday, October 8, 2012

The One-Page Resume Rule: “There is no one-page resume rule.”

Trying to describe a lengthy career in a one-page resume is like trying to fit an XL physique into an L piece of clothing.  No amount of squeezing/ adjusting/ twisting/ contorting is going to make it fit.  Trust me.

Back in the day when paper cost more than a one-fourth-of-one-cent per sheet, and e-mail was just a gleam in Bill Gates’ eye, professors at colleges and career counselors emphasized confining one’s resume to a single page.  In the interest of brevity, simplicity, tree longevity?  Who knows?

What I do know as a long-time headhunter is this.  There is no reason to confine your resume to one page unless you have only one page of information to share with a potential employer.  This might be true in the case of an entry level professional or an individual who has had a very short career or a single employer.  If you have more than 10 years of experience or more than two job titles or employers, it is likely that it will require more than a single page to describe your experience in adequate detail.

And that’s okay.  There is no one-page resume rule.

When someone tries to fit two or more pages of information into a single page, the sacrifices in terms of resume readability and content can be glaring:  adequate margins; readable font size; white space between paragraphs and sections; and bulleted details/ examples of important achievements.  The final product may be overcrowded and difficult to read, and in many cases, it will not be read.  If I cannot find your college degree and your most recent employers and titles without use of a magnifying glass (or a 200% zoom on the computer) I give up.  And so will other recruiters and employers.

And so, a few points to guide you as you compose your resume:

·         You MUST include relevant details and examples that will differentiate your background and experience from other similar backgrounds. 

·         Your resume MUST be readable and attractive, including white space and separations of content.

·         There is no One-Page Resume Rule.

Of course, not all arbitrary limitations on resume length are unreasonable…which brings me to The Three-Page Resume Rule.  My advice - unless you have been working continuously since 1947, follow it.

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