Do You Believe the One-Page Resume Myth? asks Brenda Bernstein
Job seekers are being misled that recruiters, hiring managers, and HR professionals won’t read a resume that is longer than one page. That is simply not true.
It is true that a recruiter or hiring manager will initially read your resume for just seconds. But this first review is only to determine if you are a match for the position. If you are considered a serious candidate, your resume will be read again.
Consider the resume screening process. The screener’s boss is asking him or her to come up with a handful of people to interview. If you try to condense 5-10 years of experience to fit an artificial one-page limit, your resume will not include sufficient information for the HR person to make an informed decision. If you 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 determine if you’re a good match for the position.
Given a choice between a well-written two-page resume or a crammed one-page resume which omits notable accomplishments, the HR professional is likely to choose the longer one.
Variations on the One-Page Resume Myth
There is a specific myth circulating that if you apply for a job at Google, you need a one-page resume. This myth has been debunked by people with hiring power at Google itself, including Laszlo Bock, Senior VP, who believes that you need one page for every ten years of work experience. And since many applicants to Google are fairly new graduates or even students applying for internships, the one-page guideline often applies.
Some recruiters are vocal about their desire for a one-page resume. The great thing about recruiters, though, is that they’ll tell you what they want and you can always create a one-page resume from a longer one. Keep in mind, however, that recruiters are responsible for less than 25% of job placements, and not all recruiters even subscribe to the one-page limit.
College Students and One-Page Resumes
Some accomplished new graduates have enough experience to warrant exceeding one page. When I worked with a Cornell student who was applying for jobs in finance, we gave her a two-page resume to accommodate her extensive experience. She got a sought-after position in finance at Burger King and is now a Retail Channels Senior Analyst at UPS.
Resumes submitted online are less likely to be affected by the one-page resume myth. Resumes uploaded to company websites aren’t affected by page limits. And since approximately 30 percent of resumes are only stored electronically, the screener never even knows it’s more than one page.
The Long and the Short of Resume Length
Length does matter. Your resume should be exactly as long as necessary to communicate what the reader needs to know … and not one word more. When hiring managers and HR professionals are surveyed about resume length, the majority express a preference for resumes that are one OR two pages.
Here are some guidelines for deciding resume length:
- If your resume spills over onto a second page for only a few lines, try shortening your bullets, or adjust the font, margins, and/or line spacing to fit it onto one page.
- Don’t bury key information on the second page. Many readers won’t read that far.
- Don’t be afraid to go beyond two pages if your experience warrants it. Senior executives often require three- or four-page resumes. So do many physicians, lawyers, and professors who might be using a “CV” in lieu of a resume.
- Traditional college students and those with five years or less of experience can often fit their resumes onto one page. Most others can (and should) use one page OR two, unless specifically instructed by a school or company.
- Make sure that everything you include — regardless of length — is relevant to your job target! Don’t make your resume unnecessarily long with less relevant material.
- Remember: The general consensus for resume length is “as long as needed to convey the applicant’s qualifications.” Use that guideline and you won’t go wrong!