When I have conveyed advice to hiring managers or candidates, I seldom would claim that my advice is original thought. I have received many hours of training and education from people who are way smarter than me and I have just conveyed some of these best practices on to others.
However, to the best of my recollection, the advice I have conveyed on resumes over the years is one of the few things that I can’t remember ever hearing from someone else. I guess pieces of it come from others but here is my take on preparation of a resume and its appropriate length.
I have seen good one page resumes and I have seen good three page resumes. I don’t believe there is absolutely a single rule that applies to a length of a resume. However here’s the fault I find often in one page resumes. They just look thin and they don’t convey much of how someone has contributed over their career.
The problem with one page resumes
Quite often when I first “review” a resume (yes I’m as guilty as anyone else at glancing at them quickly) I look for a format that makes me want to read the resume. What do I mean by a format that makes me want to read a resume? Let’s start with what puts a resume in the instant “no pile”. When all I see is a list of a few duties and responsibilities under a title and bullet points that are not even a full sentence long, I just don’t feel like there is much effort put into the resume and it doesn’t entice me to even read it.
Items that should be on page one
What should be included? I want to see a clean very readable resume that gives me some of the applicable skills to the position being applied for early in the resume (i.e. page one). It may be more my preference than a requirement but I do like to see educational background near the top. Many opportunities require a degree and it is nice to see that box checked right away. Skills that might be very applicable to the current opportunity you are applying for can be highlighted in a skill summary early in the resume. And of course there needs to be some details on the first page that show how you have added value through your current or recent past performance.
For the sake of length in this post, I am going to defer some detailed dos and don’ts of resume writing to a future post. If you happen to be struggling with a resume at this time, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I may be able to give you some direction or show you some example resumes for inspiration.
Page one is very important but….
So going back to the specific length of a resume, I believe that two pages are great if you have five or more years of experience. Remember that a new organization is hiring you for your recent experience. So cramming an entire career on one page including that entry level staff job 15 years ago is not important to your future employer. What your future employer is looking for and what needs to be clearly on page one of a resume are the items that you have accomplished recently that show how you have added value.
Original advice… maybe?
So here is that advice that I claim is my original thought; “You should put enough thought and effort into your resume for it to be more than one page. Just make sure the important information is on page one.” I have a twitter account @gsbsearch, and I am the first to admit I do not know that much about twitter. However, someone told me that quote could be a tweetable…whatever that is.