Resume-Length Puzzle Will Probably Never Be Settled


The pendulum has swung back and forth in the 11 years I’ve been writing resumes. When I began, one- and two-page resumes were preferred. At the mid-point of the last decade, an “anything goes” attitude developed on resume length, especially for executives. The white paper, Findings of 2010 Global Career Brainstorming Day: Trends for the Now, the New & the Next in Careers by the Career Thought Leaders Consortium, notes that during that era, three- and four-page resumes were common, “extolling a candidate’s qualifications, successes, deliverables, value, highlights, traits, and more.” Now the pendulum has swung back to resumes of no more than two pages, and a Twitter-inspired push for conciseness, including — sometimes — one-page resumes even for executives. Says the white paper: “Today’s resume also incorporates all of the same elements as the longer resumes — qualifications, successes, value, and accomplishments; it’s simply written tighter, cleaner, and leaner.” The white paper urges resume writers (which can certainly include people who write their own resumes) to “shorten two sentences to one. Eliminate an extra bullet point. Summarize all of the tech skills into one line.” Meanwhile, apparently some job-seekers are laboring under the misapprehension that a one-page-resume “rule” exists. When I saw the article The Death of the One-Page Resume? by Alexis Grant on HireStrategy, I thought it would be an iconoclast nod to longer resumes. Instead, it simply suggests that resumes can go to a second page. The watchword for today seems to be keep your resume as concise as you can, but don’t worry if that means two pages. Don’t ever sacrifice readability by cramming your resume onto one page (many job-seekers reduce type to a tiny font size and eliminate white space to stay on one page). And if you go to a second page, be sure you can fill at least half that page.