I cannot know for certain where the myth of the 1 page resume comes from, but if I had to guess, I’d say our high school teachers or career counselors. The premise is that a one-page resume is going to be concise enough that people aren’t going to assume you’re exaggerating your experience, and more importantly, short enough that someone will actually read it. It makes sense in that very precise context, but it’s certainly the vast minority when it comes to job seekers. When you don’t have any job experience, one page might even be a stretch. Most of what you can list is volunteer or internship positions, but generally its not physically possible to go longer than one page with extra curricular activities, hobbies, or other fillers.
Let’s take the extreme opposite of this and assume that you’re a 25 year senior executive that’s held many titles throughout your various companies. You better have a resume longer than one-page! (In later articles, I’m going to be digging a lot deeper into how to write a resume catering to your personality type).
The key to writing a resume is based on understanding 3 things: 1) what a hiring manager is looking for 2) what an applicant tracking system (ATS) is looking for and 3) what a recruiter who’s looking to place you at a client is looking for. You can and should elaborate where needed and for jobs like a Project Manager, expand where needed with bullet points and specific projects. Like I’ve mentioned before, the 3 C’s are Clarity, Concise-ness, and Cnot lying.
Consider also those who are contractors. They have worked 2 to 3 times as many roles as full-timers and will need space to add all their contracting roles. We can’t be asking them to chop that down to 1 page. Typically those are the resumes that go 4-6 pages without breaking a sweat.
My advice for someone just entering the job market from college or high school is to not try to make yourself look like someone you aren’t. If you need a little over a page, do it. If not, keep it right at 1 page.
What’s going to happen if you try to condense your resume down too far is that the interview will likely be a trainwreck.
“So it looks like you haven’t used Quickbooks before.”
“Oh no I have… I just didn’t know how to fit it in there…I have it on another resume…but I’ve definitely used it before, yes.”
Now you are backtracking and the manager can’t quite tell if you are dishonest or were lazy when you wrote your resume. Neither are going to lead to a job offer. However long you need to write out the specifics of each job and the duties contained within them, please take advantage and leave nothing out. The absolute tragedy of the 1 page resume is candidates missing out on a dream job because they had to choose between words, phrases, key terms, etc to keep the resume within this arbitrary limit.
I want to showcase what I’m about other than recruiting, resumes, and Myers-Briggs, so I am going to include a short plug for the latest book I’m reading/have read and include a link at the end of my articles. I will elaborate within my videos, but not here on the articles.
If you think somebody has some issues with their resume or needs some general counseling as the approach the job market, send them my way for a consultation.
In 90% of cases, a resume does not need to be re-written. It simply needs a couple tweaks and additions that make it look reinvigorated. The only time a full overhaul is needed is when the formatting and design are unreadable and convoluted. For someone needing resume help, not requiring a complete revamp brings them tremendous emotional relief.
The first thing I always ask is, “What do you think is wrong with your resume?” The answers I get start with, “I just feel like…
A) I’m not getting as many hits as I used to…”
B) I could add something more…”
C) I keep getting passed over because of it…”
What it comes down to is making the proper adjustments in regards to keywords, job titles, format, spacing, reduction of fluff, addition of specific tools, and clarity throughout.
I worked with a sales rep recently who needed resume advice. After talking through the resume, we concluded he needed three changes: Adding his sales achievements, adding specific CRM and software skills, and adding an additional page. (I will be discussing the myth of the 1 page resume in an upcoming video/article.)
Some minor formatting tweaks and page rearrangement for the finishing touch, and that was it. After this, any manager or recruiter viewing his resumes could see he was a top 10% sales rep and well-versed with enterprise CRM tools.
Most often, a resume needs to be shorter, not longer. It needs to be more concise when listing bullet points, and focused on reducing ambiguous character statements. I would delete the “Objective” statement as well. At least on the staffing side of the business, this is something you can remove without suffering any damage.
Unless you are a graphic designer, artist, or game developer, you do not need to spruce up your resume with graphics or flashy designs. Both the ATS and the hiring manager are searching for content and competence, not creativity. If you cannot resist an intricate resume with graphics and multi-colored font, my recommendation is you better have substance and content behind all the glitz or the manager/recruiter will reject your resume because its all smoke and mirrors.
There’s more debate to be had about such topics like: cover letters, references, whether or not to add short contracts, how to address job gaps, etc etc. I encourage your deliberation and input surrounding everything I’ve written here.