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How long should a resume be: one page or two? You may have read or heard that it should be no longer than one page. The true answer to this question depends on multiple factors. Let's take a look at some of those deciding factors. First of all, how much experience do you have? When people write their resumes something rather ironic and interesting happens. People with lots of experience tend to try to jam everything onto one page. They make the font too small to read easily, they shrink their white space, and they end up with hardly any margin at all.
People with hardly any experience try to get a teeny bit of information to expand onto two pages. They make the font and their margins larger and include relevant information to try to make it look as if they have more experience. If you have more than then years of experience, you'll probably need more than one page, especially if you need to list such things as professional experience, technical skills, certifications, publications, patents, or speaking engagements.
Rule of thumb: if this information is important to the position you're currently seeking, don't crunch everything onto one page simply because of the outdated concept of the one-page-fits-all resume. If you're just out of school or college, try to make the resume no more than one page. If you have less than five years of work experience, a one-page resume should suffice in most cases. You may have heard from seemingly credible sources that you should only include your last ten years of experience.
Unfortunately, this well-intentioned advice could actually keep you from getting an interview. Consider the example that a hiring manager recently shared with me. An applicant must referred by a personal reference. During the interview the hiring manager looked at the resume and didn't see any of the experience she expected. She inquired, "Is this all of the experience you have? I was told do you had experience as a paralegal?" The applicant replied, "Well, yes I was an IP litigation paralegal for twelve years, but my recruiter told me I should include only the last ten years of my experience on my resume, so I left it off." The hiring manager told me the recruiters advise almost cost the paralegal the job.
If she had not known someone and got in through the back door to the interview, she would have most certainly been passed over. Anyone simply reading the resume would never have called her in the first place, and she got the job because of the experience she have prior to the ten-year cutoff. Don't leave off relevant information, because of a one-page limit or a 10-year cutoff. Keep your resume concise but targeted with pertinent information. On the other hand, if you delivered pizza, worked in a nail salon or other such shops that may be unrelated ten years before, you may leave these irrelevant positions off of your resume.
Just be careful about leaving gaps in your employment dates. If you find and taking this information off will leave gaps, consider instead, changing the job description to include your transferable skills. If you have many years of experience, you may consider setting up an Early Career section where you briefly summarize or even combine employers, maybe even job titles and employment dates. Other expendable items include obsolete technology and your high school information after your attending college.
Be careful of setting off flares; employment dates they go back too far will attract about as much attention. Consider including as much of your more recent experience as possible and only what is pertinent to the job. Use your best judgment depending on the field you're in to figure out what your cutoff date would be and when you would start dating yourself. For example, I started working at fourteen years old while attending high school and I worked my way through college. As I gained more experience, those jobs dropped off of my resume, but they were very valuable when I was just getting my start.
Do you hold a senior- or executive-level position? In addition to your resume, you may need to include a portfolio of documents, including an executive biography or leadership process profile to clearly illustrate your track record of accomplishments and leadership abilities. Ask yourself these questions: Are you, including information that is totally irrelevant to the position you're targeting? Will the information provided assist you in getting the interview? Are you trying to crunch your resume into one page by eliminating pertinent information, making the margins too small, decreasing the font size, and eliminating their white space? In other words, are you making it hard to read simply because you've heard it should only be one page? Is it as concise as possible? Stay to the point and keep focused on your target position.
And the survey says, Robert Half Technology, a respected recruiting firm, shared some information with me about a recent poll they conducted. They interviewed senior executives for a survey regarding their preferences in resume length. They found that the best rule of thumb is to allow the breadth and depth of your experience to dictate resume length. They suggest before putting anything on your resume ask, does it add value to my candidacy? If it doesn't, eliminate the information or recast it in more meaningful terms.
So, how long should your resume be? Your resume should be exactly the length it takes to market and sell yourself for each targeted job. Try to keep it between one and two pages; be concise. Keep focused on your qualifications accomplishments and achievements, but don't sell yourself short. And remember, although a one-page resume is no longer hard-and-fast rule, you certainly should never create a 10-page resume. You may want to rethink your strategy or perhaps create a portfolio in addition to your resume if it's running onto multiple pages.
The most important thing to remember is to include as much relevant information as needed to advertise and market yourself to your target. Just be sure to make yourself shine and cast yourself in the best possible light.
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