Is It True That My Resume Should Be Just One Page?

Resumes? I’ve seen a few…

Here is the truth, most one-page resumes are simply difficult to read and absorb. Their formatting just isn’t attractive, lacking white space because they are trying to pack information in with a tiny font size and super narrow margins.

Furthermore, by trying to squeeze everything down to one page, it almost always ends up understating a person’s qualifications. With a one-page resume, there just isn’t enough room for a strong presentation with easy-to-read formatting, two essential qualities you want from any effective resume.

In my years as a recruiter, and now as a resume writer and coach, I have reviewed thousands of resumes and have worked with hundreds of folks, all looking to put together a great package that will get them hired. One of the first things that people often tell me is that they want their resume to just be one page. When I ask, “Why?”, they respond with vague assertions about how that is what they’ve always been told. Where did the idea that a one-page resume is the best choice come from? I have absolutely no idea.

Of course, there are a few exceptions to this. For example, I once wrote a resume for a 75-year old gentleman who was looking for a second career. Over the past 50 years, he had owned a construction business. With that kind of decades-long steady employment, the list of jobs that he held was somewhat limited. But that didn’t matter. What mattered was the wealth of experience that he accumulated at his business. So we developed a one-page resume highlighting that expertise and he used it to find a new and exciting job.

Some other situations where a one-page resume might do the trick are:

Recent College Graduates

If someone has recently graduated from college and has limited or no work experience, a one-page resume can be sufficient to find a job. This length might also be suitable if someone is still a student and applying for an internship.

Since there is a lack of work experience, we can instead highlight different information. For example, we can focus on their academic studies, such as a list of the course curriculum for the specific major. We could also talk about any scholarships, awards, or volunteer experience they may have accumulated over their academic career.

All of that said, a one-page resume might not be a necessity for young people. I once wrote a resume for a 19-year old young man studying to be a firefighter. Although he had no actual work experience, he did start out with the local fire department as an Explorer Scout when he was 13. This meant that he actually had six years of firefighting training. We could, therefore, create a two-page resume that better fleshed out his extensive experience as a firefighter, even though his actual work experience was limited.

College Job Fairs

Many colleges and universities host on-campus job fairs for companies to interview students with high potential to become entry-level employees or interns. In this context, these companies will typically only want a one-page resume with a very short interview. Schools often provide examples of the preferred format for job fairs to help make sure everything goes smoothly.

Employees with a Long Tenure at One Company

Some people get hired at a company right out of college and stay with them for much of their career. As a result, they might have only held one or two different jobs over the years, resulting in a one-page resume. However, if they held multiple positions at a single company, then their resume will usually need to be longer to properly state their career progression through promotions or lateral moves.

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Personally, I hold to the strategy that the right length for a resume is the one that clearly states a person’s qualifications and why they should be hired. This might be one, two, or three pages in length. It entirely depends on their wealth of experience and the space we need to properly flesh it out.

Resumes can be one of the most confusing writing projects that folks embark upon. Like the myth of the one-page resume, there is so much misinformation floating around out there about what makes for the perfect resume (some of the stuff that is said on the internet about resumes, yikes!) By hiring someone who has been handling and working with resumes since 1999, you won’t have to worry about any of this conflicting information.

I know what recruiters and companies are looking for in a resume because I was once in that exact position! With my help, I can walk you through your entire career and show you how to frame your experience to best present yourself to a potential employer. Getting the job can be tricky, but it’s a lot less difficult when you have the right resume that will introduce you properly before the interview! Contact me today to get started!