Your resume: one page or two…?

Although it’s a close call, a recent survey of employers gives the one page resume the edge by the tiniest of margin…  The good news is: either way you can’t really go wrong. The bad news is: you will need to make your own decision which route to go…

Before we look at the benefits of each format and help you decide which is for you, please note that you can’t sit on the fence: A one and a half page resume is not an option! It says that while you were unable to sum yourself up crisply in a page (or didn’t bother trying to edit it down!), you didn’t have enough interesting things to say about yourself to fill two sides…

So, have a read through these arguments and then make your choice…

Arguments for a one page resume:

+ Very easy to digest (recruiters scan resumes in between 8–30 seconds!).

+ It’s the more popular form with employers, so the odds are (just!) in your favor.  Even if some employers prefer two pages, they can (if your one pager is well presented) always ask you for more…

+ It shows that you are able to prioritize and communicate clearly and concisely: a highly valued skill in today’s executive world.

+ It prepares you well for your interviews as it forces you to filter out what is relevant and what is not for the position you are interested in.

(Remember that – contrary to what career consultants may tell you – the modern resume should not be a chronological document listing every responsibility you have held since college, but should be a ‘personal ad’ listing only what is relevant to your prospective employer.)

Arguments for a two page resume:

+ It is easier to write (yes!). In the words of Mark Twain: “I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” Many candidates find it difficult to filter and condense information.

+ If you’re working with executive search consultants, then this is the preferrred choice: Tell them everything about you as they are used to doing part of the work for you (i.e. filtering out what is relevant and presenting this information to their clients).

+ If you’ve got lots of experience or are going for a senior role, then a two pager may be required to get everything in!  Having said this, however, I know that many CEOs still favor the one page format for their own resumes!

As you may have ascertained, I have a personal bias towards the short and crisp resume, so – if you’re going eye-catching and snappy – here are a few tips on creating the perfect ‘one pager’!

Focus on your most recent accomplishments

If you have a long work history then cut out anything irrelevant: most managers don’t want to know what you did right after college.  Emphasize your most recent accomplishments and consider just using headlines (job title, employer, location and the dates) for less relevant responsibilities. This is resume real estate well used!

List years only

Don’t list months or even days in your work history: just the years are fine… Using this technique may allow you to drop irrelevant jobs from your work history all together, keeping the resume on focus.

Consider grouping information

To make your work history look more cohesive (and to save space), group redundant employment stints together. For instance, if you held the same job title with a few different employers, lead with your title and overall span of years, then list the employers underneath.

Play with the ‘resume real estate’

The idea is still to make sure your formatting allows for plenty of white space and a font size of at least 11 point.  If needs be, then adjust your

margins (make sure to go no smaller than .75 inch on each side).  Try to strike the right visual balance: maybe put job title, employer info, and dates on one line if you can.

Consider a summary statement

This is another technique for keeping your resume short and easy for the ‘buyer’ to digest.  Rather than using a ‘career objective’, offer your target audience what they want to know about you: tell them your focus, your (transferable) skills and exactly why you’re the person for them.

If, after applying these tips, your resume is two pages, then the two pager is the right format for you.  Put ‘Continued’ at the bottom of page one, your name and ‘Page Two’ at the top of the next page, and share it with confidence!