Resume length is one of those issues that vexes job seekers. So we asked a panel of experts to weigh in on the matter: “Should you have a one-page resume or a two-page resume?” Here’s what they said.
Pro: One-Page Resume
“Ideally, your resume should be one page, because recruiters and managers have short attention spans,” says Jennifer Brooks, senior associate director of the MBA Career Management Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “It’s your ad; it doesn’t have to be comprehensive. If you feel the need to write down everything you’ve done in your entire career, you’re not thinking about the buyer, who just needs to know what’s relevant.”
Her tip for keeping your resume short and easy for the “buyer”: Use a summary statement. “It’s better than a career objective,” she says. “It’s what you want me to know about you in a nutshell. That makes it easy for recruiters to know your focus and your skills.”
Dani Johnson, author of Grooming the Next Generation for Success, agrees. “If you have a long work history, know that most people don’t read what you did 10 years ago,” she explains. “Put the focus on your most recent accomplishments, and if you have skills that repeat from one company or job to the next, state ‘same as above as well as these’ to save room.”
Pro: Two-Page Resume
While everyone agrees shorter is better, it’s a fact that some of us will need longer resumes. If you’ve got a lot of varied experience or a long career, you may well need more space to tell your story.
“Two pages may be OK,” says Paul C. Green, a former hiring manager and the author of Get Hired. But three or more pages is too much. The best way to present your career information is through a chronological resume format with bulleted skills listed below each position.” One exception: Any skills that are relevant to a particular employer or are in demand in today’s workplace, like critical-care nursing, nanotechnology or eliminating environmental hazards, for example. For maximum impact, list these skills in your resume's career summary.
Kim Isaacs, Monster's Resume Expert and director of ResumePower.com in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, says even if you’re going long, stay focused on what’s most relevant to prospective employers. “Let go of information that doesn’t help win job interviews,” she says. That includes positions held long ago, outdated accomplishments, old training and hobbies. She also suggests putting effort in your presentation. “Design is equally as important as resume length and content. A one-page resume that’s crammed with information is less desirable than a well-organized two-page resume that is easy to read and digest.”
Compromise on Resume Length
Like any good argument, there is a middle ground solution, according to Chris Laggini, vice president of HR for DLT Solutions, an IT reseller and service provider in Herndon, Virginia. “Recruiters read for speed," he says. "They are on a minute-long word hunt for certain titles, skills and years of experience. Hiring managers read for detail. So, we recommend that you have both a one-page resume for the recruiter and an in-depth resume format to be shared with the hiring manager. In your short version, make certain to highlight keywords and titles referenced in the ad for the position. In the long version, provide the hiring manager with enough detail for them to get an accurate picture of you, what you are capable of accomplishing and what you want from the career path.”
The Final Word on Resume Format
All our experts agree that the key to writing an effective resume of any length is to choose elements carefully. “A good way to filter your experiences is to survey your network on the needs of employers, and sample business articles for common themes of discontent in the workplace” Green explains. “List 10 ways employers are hurting today [and] describe 10 of your skills that you can deliver to deal with them. Use your resume to convert what you have done in the past to what you can do in the future -- then your phone will ring.”
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