Resumes - Should I Keep It To One Page? How Short Is Too Short?

Expert Author Lorraine E. Wright
Nowadays, a lot of people will tell you that it's vital to keep your resume to one page. They say it's the new trend in the job search world, and that anything over one page is too long. Is this true? How short is too short?
First, let's look at why some people stick to a one page resume:
  1. They've been told to do it: There are people who will tell you that the long resume is old-fashioned and out-of-date. They say that brevity and conciseness are everything.
  2. They're afraid a long one won't be read: They worry (with reason) that with so many applicants for every job, a hiring manager will only give their resumes a glance, so they pare everything down as far as possible, and keep the resume to one page, even if it means using a font that requires a microscope to read.
  3. They can't be bothered: It's true. Some people hate the whole resume-writing process and just throw some words on a page and call it a day. (But not you, right? After all, you care enough to read this article.)
  4. They can't think of anything else to write: Once they've written down their career goal, their education and the few jobs they've done, they're only halfway down the page.
Who should use the one page resume?: If you're a student just starting out in the workforce, or if you've only held one or two jobs since you started working, you'll probably do fine with a one page resume. Even if you've worked for a few years, it's quite possible that once you remove everything from your resume that isn't relevant to the job you're applying to, you'll have just enough information for one concise page.
But please:
  • Don't: Use a font smaller than a size 11 Times New Roman in order to fit everything on one page. Giving the hiring manager eyestrain won't make you popular.
  • Don't: Remove all the white space and cram everything as closely together as possible to stay on one page. You want the important information to jump out, not get buried in a heap of words.
  • Don't: Change the margins till the words reach all four edges of the paper just to keep it to one page. It looks unprofessional and confusing.
  • Don't: Leave out important and relevant details of your education and work experience just to keep to one page. Just make sure you briefly mention all your most important qualifications in a Skills or Qualifications section near the beginning, in case the employer doesn't make it to the second page.
How can I keep my resume to one page? Remove everything that isn't relevant to the job you're applying for. If you're applying to work as a pharmacist, don't spend three paragraphs listing your responsibilities as a landscaper three years ago. If you want to be an executive secretary, you don't need to list all your credentials and volunteer work as a scuba diving teacher. Just stick to what's important and relevant.
How can I fill up a whole page? Here are some things to include:
  1. Name and personal information: Address, home and/or cell number, e-mail address, LinkedIn address (if any), Twitter (if desired and appropriate), etc.
  2. Profile: A very brief paragraph, maybe two or three sentences, about you, your personal characteristics (as relates to your employment, such as: enthusiastic, self-motivated, persuasive), your career goal, etc.
  3. Qualifications: This can be a brief bulleted section where you include all your top skills and qualifications as requested in the job posting.
  4. Testimonial: This is a little unusual, but if you're good at formatting, include a one or two sentence quote, with name and position, from a former employer, extolling your virtues as an employee. It can be very effective if done right, but if you're not sure you're up to the challenge, leave this off or get a professional to do it. (Also, make sure you get the person's permission first to quote them on your resume.)
  5. Work History: All your jobs, in reverse chronology, with emphasis on the things you did that are relevant to the job or field you want to work in, plus any highlights of your time there. (Did you do anything unusual, amazing, creative, receive awards?)
  6. Education: Include any relevant awards, courses and professional development.
  7. Volunteer work/community activities: Include only if relevant.
  8. Computer abilities: What programs can you use?
  9. Languages: Only include if you have more than one!
Bottom line: Use a one page resume if and when appropriate. If you absolutely cannot cram all your wonderfulness, professionally-speaking, onto one page, don't worry about it. You can add a second page. Just make sure that everything you do put on your resume is concise, clear and relevant!


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