Many job seekers hear that a resume MUST be only one page long or it will be “thrown out.”
So, let’s put that to rest. There is no “rule” that a resume should be one page. Length is only one consideration for a resume’s effectiveness. Jobseekers are being misled that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals won’t read a resume that is longer than one page. That’s simply not true.
In fact, a multi-page resume is not only appropriate but expected in many situations.
While recent research shows that a resume will be read for only seconds when it is first screened, the first review is only to determine if it is a match for the position. If the jobseeker is considered a serious candidate, the resume will be read again.
Hirers prefer longer resumes
Jobseekers who believe an HR professional won’t read a two-page resume should stop and consider the resume screening process. The resume screener’s boss is asking him or her to come up with four or five people to bring in for an interview. If a candidate with 10 years of experience tries to condense that to fit an artificial one-page limit, you’re asking that HR person to make a decision about you, based on what amounts to a few paragraphs.
Given a choice between a well-written two-page resume or a cluttered one-page resume which omits notable accomplishments in the interest of saving space, the HR professional is likely to choose the longer resume.
If you submit a two-page resume and the person reading it decides you’re not a match for the job, he or she will stop reading. But if you do seem to fit the job requirements, that person will want to know even more about you. A well-organized two-page resume can actually make it easier for the screener to do his or her job by allowing him or her to easily determine if you’re a good match for the position.
Recruiters aren’t the only readers
So why does the one-page myth persist? Some recruiters are vocal about their desire for a one-page resume. However, not all recruiters share this preference. There are certain recruiters who say they will only read one-page resumes. However, recruiters are responsible for placing fewer than 25% of candidates in new jobs, and not all recruiters subscribe to the one-page limit. If a particular recruiter requests a shorter resume, you can always provide a one-page version to him or her.
When hiring managers and HR professionals are surveyed about resume length, the majority express a preference for resumes that are one page OR two pages — the general consensus is “as long as needed to convey the applicant’s qualifications.”
College templates can mislead
College professors also share some of the blame for perpetuating the one-page resume myth. Some professors — who have no connection to the employment world — believe “their way” is the right way to do things. They provide a template to their students and require advisees to use that format, even if the person is a non-traditional student who has an extensive work history or career path that sets them apart from other job candidates with similar educational backgrounds.
It would be unusual for most 21-year-old students to need two pages to describe their education and work history, but it’s not unrealistic to expect that an accomplished graduate might have internships, projects, activities, and honors that would make it necessary to exceed the one-page length.
If you doubt the “Do as I say, not as I do” approach, ask any professor to see his or her resume. Chances are, it will be at least two pages long to include consulting work and works published, in addition to classroom teaching experience. But professors call their resumes “curriculum vitas,” so they don’t have to follow their own one-page resume limit.
Online, length matters less
Resumes submitted online are also less likely to be affected by the one-page resume myth. That’s because the one-page format is unique to the printed page. Resumes uploaded to company websites aren’t affected by page limits. Approximately 30 percent of resumes are only stored electronically. They’re never printed out, so the screener never knows it’s more than a one-page document.
However, length does matter. Your resume should be only as long as it needs to be to tell the reader exactly what he or she needs to know to call you in for an interview – and not one word more.
Image courtesy iamaea via freedigitalphotos.net.