When it comes to writing a resume, size often matters. You’ve probably heard that it’s best to keep your resume to one page. It’s true. Keeping your resume compact makes it easier to read and lets the hiring manager notice your professional accomplishments sooner. However, this is not a one-fit-all rule. So, should a resume be one page? Let’s find out.
Should a resume be one page or when to use a one-page resume?
A one-page resume is perfect for entry-level applicants, recent college graduates and those with a few years of work experience. You may also consider using a one-page resume if you are in the process of switching fields and just want to include the experience relevant to the new position you are applying for.
The general idea is that the quicker you can “get to the point” the better. Hiring managers are very busy people and they often don’t have time to carefully read through every resume that crosses their desk.
According to HRdive, hiring managers only spend about seven seconds looking over a resume. So, if you’ve “saved the best for last”, the chances are the hiring manager will not even get to the best part before dismissing your resume.
But what if you actually have a lot of things to tell? What if you are an experienced professional with lots of accomplishments and credentials that you want the hiring team to know about?
Well, in this case, you will need to find a way to make the most out of your resume real estate.
How to fit a resume on one page?
There are many strategies you can use to make your resume more compact.
- Use strategic keywords. According to the data provided by Jobscan, 99% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS, or applicant tracking software, to sort through the many resumes they receive. The main job of applicant tracking software is to filter the resumes the company receives according to a specific set of keywords set by the hiring team. What this means is that unless you use the right words, your resume may be discarded by the applicant tracking software and not make it to the hiring manager’s table. The best strategy here is to use the same keywords that you see in the job description. Read the job posting one more time, pick out the most important keywords and make them the focal points of your resume.
- Quantify your achievements. Putting the value of your achievements into words may be complicated. So, why not put it in numbers? When describing your accomplishments, do your best to quantify. Talk about how much the company’s revenue has increased thanks to your input, how many new clients you’ve brought in, how many employees you’ve trained, and so on.
- Keep your resume structured. A good structure and a readable format will not only make your resume more compact, but will also showcase your organizational skills to the potential employer. A clear thought-through format will help you save lots of valuable resume space and will ensure that the key information jumps off the page.
What to leave off a resume?
Keeping some things off your resume will also help you manage its size. Here are a few things you may consider keeping off your application.
× Long and vague descriptions. If there is anything about your previous work experience that is difficult to put into bullet points or quantify, it may be best to leave it off the page. Your resume will be your first introduction to the hiring manager and they simply won’t have the time or interest to get into the complexities of your situation just yet.
× Irrelevant experiences. If you are applying for a job in IT, you can feel free to leave off that time you worked for Jack in the Box — and any other experiences that don’t really work towards showcasing your capabilities in IT.
× Jobs you had a long time ago. If you’ve been working for a while, you have accumulated a lot of work experience and the number of companies you worked for may also be quite long. If this is the case, consider how far back you want to go on your resume. It may be in your best interest to keep to the most recent or most prominent positions to impress the hiring manager instead of listing every job you’ve even held in chronological order.
× Personal information. Your resume should be about your work. Sure, if you are applying for a job as a TV presenter or actor, this may also require you to disclose some personal details such as your age, appearance and more. However, for most jobs, this information isn’t needed. In fact, if you are applying for a job in the United States, including some of this information may go against the anti-discrimination laws. So, when deciding what information to include in your resume, always ask yourself if your employer will have any use for this information.
× Unimpressive information. The main goal of a resume is to get you the job. So, everything you include on the page must pass through the “will it get me the job” filter. Don’t mention “average” accomplishments that will only act as page fillers. For example, if your GPA was below 3.0, it may be best to just leave it be and focus on more qimpressive accomplishments. If your resume ends up being short, don’t just add anything to make it seem longer. There is little chance that fillers will work to your advantage. On the contrary, they can make you come across as desperate or deceitful.
× Reasons why you left. Never explain in your resume why you left your previous employer. It’s unprofessional and it will also waste lots of valuable space on your application. If the hiring manager is interested in why you left your previous job, they will ask you about it during the job interview.
Can a resume be 2 pages?
Yes, it can be.
We did spend the better half of this article emphasizing that your resume should be short. However, when you have a lot of relevant experiences, there is nothing wrong with adding a page to your resume. All you need to keep in mind is that the resume must do a good job of representing you as a professional.
If you have a lot of things to share with your employer, don’t hesitate and make your resume a two-pager. In fact, some studies suggest that hiring managers may be more interested in reading longer resumes in certain fields and at certain career levels. Provided, of course, that the experience listed in the resume is relevant to the position they are looking to fill.
When to use a three-page (or longer) resume?
There is a general understanding that a resume shouldn’t be over two pages long — no matter how much experience you have. But there are exceptions.
It all depends on what job you are applying for. For instance, if you want to work for the federal government, you may need to include a lot of extra information in your resume. If you are a high-level manager with a long track record of projects, your resume may spill over two pages. If you are composing an academic CV for a research position and have a long list of publications and licenses, a three-page resume would also be perfectly acceptable.
Should a resume be one page: summing things up
So, should a resume be one page?
In the end, the length of your resume is never as important as the content that you put in it. If you can fit all your professional credentials on one page, great. If you have more to say, don’t be afraid to make your resume longer — as long as it makes sense for the job you are applying for.
Remember one thing: your resume should be an accurate representation of your skills, work experience and other qualifications.