length is one of those issues that vexes job seekers. So we asked a
panel of experts to weigh in on the matter: “Should you have a one-page
resume or a two-page resume?” Here’s what they said.
Pro: One-Page Resume:
your resume should be one page, because recruiters and managers have
short attention spans,” says Jennifer Brooks, senior associate director
of the MBA Career Management Center at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School
in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “It’s your ad; it doesn’t have to be
comprehensive. If you feel the need to write down everything you’ve done
in your entire career, you’re not thinking about the buyer, who just
needs to know what’s relevant.”
Her tip for keeping your resume short and easy for the “buyer”: Use a summary statement.
“It’s better than a career objective,” she says. “It’s what you want me
to know about you in a nutshell. That makes it easy for recruiters to
know your focus and your skills.”
Dani Johnson, author of Grooming the Next Generation for Success, agrees. “If you have a long work history, know that most people don’t read what you did 10 years ago,”
she explains. “Put the focus on your most recent accomplishments, and
if you have skills that repeat from one company or job to the next,
state ‘same as above as well as these’ to save room.”
Pro: Two-Page Resume:
everyone agrees shorter is better, it’s a fact that some of us will
need longer resumes. If you’ve got a lot of varied experience or a long
career, you may well need more space to tell your story.
“Two pages may be OK,” says Paul C. Green, a former hiring manager and the author of Get Hired.
But three or more pages is too much. The best way to present your
career information is through a chronological resume format with
bulleted skills listed below each position.” One exception: Any skills that are relevant to a particular employer or
are in demand in today’s workplace, like critical-care nursing,
nanotechnology or eliminating environmental hazards, for example. For
maximum impact, list these skills in your resume's career summary.
Kim Isaacs, Monster's Resume Expert and
director of ResumePower.com in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, says even if
you’re going long, stay focused on what’s most relevant to prospective
employers. “Let go of information that doesn’t help win job interviews,”
she says. That includes positions held long ago, outdated
accomplishments, old training and hobbies. She also suggests putting effort in your presentation.
“Design is equally as important as resume length and content. A
one-page resume that’s crammed with information is less desirable than a
well-organized two-page resume that is easy to read and digest.”
Compromise on Resume Length:
any good argument, there is a middle ground solution, according to
Chris Laggini, vice president of HR for DLT Solutions, an IT reseller
and service provider in Herndon, Virginia. “Recruiters read for speed,"
he says. "They are on a minute-long word hunt for certain titles, skills
and years of experience. Hiring managers read for detail. So, we
recommend that you have both a one-page resume for the recruiter and an
in-depth resume format to be shared with the hiring manager. In your
short version, make certain to highlight keywords and titles referenced
in the ad for the position. In the long version, provide the hiring
manager with enough detail for them to get an accurate picture of you,
what you are capable of accomplishing and what you want from the career
The Final Word on Resume Format:
All our experts agree that the key to writing an effective resume of any length is to choose elements carefully.
“A good way to filter your experiences is to survey your network on the
needs of employers, and sample business articles for common themes of
discontent in the workplace” Green explains. “List 10 ways employers are
hurting today [and] describe 10 of your skills that you can deliver to
deal with them. Use your resume to convert what you have done in the
past to what you can do in the future -- then your phone will ring.”