The Myth of the One-Page Resume

Dennis

Hi, My Name’s Dennis. You might be wondering why I’m writing this post instead of Giacomo. Whenever the subject deals with shit in any form or fashion, Giacomo gives me the assignment. And today’s post falls squarely into that category. It’s about common advice given regarding resumes—in other words, bullshit.

What advice, you ask?

Your Resume Must Be One Page!

How many times have you seen, or heard, the one-page resume advice? If you’ve been looking for a job, or even paying attention to the career market, you’ve probably seen it a lot.

And if it isn’t advice about the resume, it’s more than likely—your cover letter must be one page. I hope you don’t lose any sleep over that, because it’s garbage.

Don’t Ever Listen…

…to someone who tells you a resume must be kept to one page. Or that a cover letter must be one page. What they must be is perfect. And if perfection takes a little more space—fine.

Gone With the Wind, one of the classics of twentieth century fiction, is about 1,000 pages long. Imagine if someone told Margaret Mitchell that her book must be less than 700 pages. She might have ended her story with Rhett and Scarlett happily married, and we would have never heard Rhett tell her, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Or imagine if War and Peace had been cut from 1440 pages to 700? In that case, perhaps more people would have read it. The difference is one book keeps readers’ interest and one doesn’t.

Back to Resumes

In a resume the only thing that is a must is to convince the gatekeeper that you’re a person they should consider for the position. If you follow sound advice you will probably end up with a document that is 1–2 pages long. But every person is different, with a unique work history. Maybe you got caught up in the dot-com bust back in the 90s, and you have a few extra jobs on your resume, more jobs than the average person. In order to make the resume look right you need more whitespace, which means you need more pages.

Don’t sacrifice looks and readability to keep a resume to one page. No matter what you hear, don’t do it. 

“Readability” is one of the most important factors determining whether your resume gets reviewed. Making sure your resume is easy to read is far more important than keeping it to one, or even two pages.

The same advice goes for the cover letter. Most cover letters require no more than one page, but if you need two pages to get your message across, and you’re following sound advice, take that extra space. If you’re still confused about who to listen to…

Think About This

When dealing with resumes and cover letters—anything for that matter—you have to take the “common sense” approach. For this example common-sense reasoning tells you that no headhunter or gatekeeper in their right mind will toss your resume out for being two pages instead of one. They won’t even toss it for being three instead of one—as long as you keep it interesting.

How to Keep it Interesting

You keep it interesting by cutting all unnecessary sections and by tailoring your resume to the needs of the job description/requirements. Companies screen resumes based on job descriptions. If your resume is relevant to the position requirements, the gatekeeper isn’t tossing that resume. Trust me.

Bottom Line

We’ll be covering all aspects of resume preparation in different posts on this site. In the meantime, if you haven’t signed up for the newsletter—do it now. You’ll get the No Mistakes Resumes checklist as a guide for what you need to do.

Even better—buy the book. It only costs about two cups of coffee.

Want to see more posts like this? Let me know. Or email me with suggestions on topics you’d like to see covered.

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