En Route: A Career Blog

Don’t Shortchange Yourself with a One Page Resume

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: , ,
POSTED: March 27, 2012 at 11:06 am

Over the years, there has been a lot of advice centered on the perfect length for a resume. Some experts have claimed that one page is the best. Keep it brief and to the point, they say. Others advise that two, three or even four pages is acceptable, depending upon the circumstances.

As a resume writing expert and a hiring manager, I don’t believe there is one perfect resume length for all candidates. I like to take the common sense approach in this. And that is, a resume is as long as it needs to be PROVIDED the data it contains is germane to the current job search and nothing extraneous is included.

There is NO Perfect Resume Length

That means that your resume may be two pages, while your colleague’s may be one. It all depends upon your background.

In addition to page length being debated, how far a candidate should go back is also argued about from time to time. In my view, anyone in IT shouldn’t go back farther than 10 years. The industry is changing so quickly, the technology is outdated quickly. Therefore, listing what you used 20 years ago isn’t going to impress anyone as that technology isn’t popular any longer. For those outside the technology fields, it’s best not to go back farther than 15 years. To do so might invite age discrimination. What’s more, a hiring manager is most interested in what you’ve done recently, not way back when.

The only time you would go back to the beginning would be if you’re reentering an industry you left in the early years. For example: You began in finance, then moved on to information technology, and now you’re returning to finance. The early experience must be on the resume. It’s all that you have in terms of expertise in the field.

Determining the Correct Resume Length

Whenever you’re at a crossroads as to how long your resume should be or what it should contain, just use common sense. Is the data you’re providing:

1. Proving you’re the best candidate for the position?

2. Showcasing skills, knowledge, abilities that meet the job requirements?

3. Painting a positive picture of your candidacy?

If the answer isn’t ‘yes’ to each of the above, then the data has no business being in your resume. Once you’ve included only that information which belongs there, that’s the length of your resume.

It’s as simple as that.

  • Karen

    At the age of 55 plus, I have over 35 years of business experience in the scientific supply field as well as the technology, banking and publishing industries. However, I’ve spent the past 10 years in an academic/research environment. Recently, my coworker took the liberty of tweaking my resume to make me appear more marketable (yawn!) by eliminating the first 25 years of my employment history and focusing on my recent experience (12 years) with the tech company and at the university. Talk about feeling violated! Yet when hired at the university, the H/R managers said they were drawn to my resume because of my long history in the scientific supply industry and for my project management experience with the technology giant. In this case, what say you,regarding a one-page resume?

    ANSWER: Again, a resume is as long as it needs to be providing it contains relevant information for the new job search. The length of the resume isn’t what matters – it’s what data it contains. Industry standards advise not to go back farther than 15 years, otherwise you’ll be inviting age discrimination. You won’t get an interview. The company may love your decades of expertise once you’re there, but they may not look at it so kindly before they’ve met you. It’s simply the truth of the job market.

Darlene Z.

Darlene Zambruski is a resume writing expert and CPRW (Certified Professional Resume Writer) with more than 13 years of industry experience. She has authored 10,000+ resumes in every industry and at every career level.

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