Advice to My Mentees – The Myth of the 1-Page Resume

Resume Word Cloud

This past school year I volunteer to be a mentor to two Xavier students. During our conversations I dispel many myths about job hunting. One myth is about the 1-page resume. No offense to college career advisers, book authors on the subject and new recruiters, but there is nothing more frustrating then hearing the following statements that have some from these sources:

  • The HR person at my Dad’s place of work said I should only have a one-page resume
  • Well, I read a book and it said you should have a one page resume
  • I wish I could add my volunteer experience but it would mean more than one page
  • My brother told me that people just don’t read resumes that are longer than one page

I have heard some more from season job seekers, but we can start with these classic ones.

There is plenty of research on this topic and if you read more than five articles they will contradict each other. While there no scientific answer about whether a one-page resume is right or wrong. It all depends on who you are and how much experience you have. It becomes more of an art form than a formula Britain.

What is the purpose of your resume?

Believe or not – but for a some to be graduating student the primary purpose of a resume should be to get an face-to-face interview.

If the resume gets you an interview, it can be considered to be a good resume. If the resume isn’t getting you interviews, then you should probably change it, unless you are a first year hopelessly applying to be a CEO; that’s a different conversation.

As someone who has read a hundreds resumes in my past and current roles, There is one big mistake you can make on your resume – make it hard to read.

Lots of graphics, small print, crazy fonts, borders, boxes, footnotes and really really creative designs are not a good idea these days for a couple reasons.

  • Scanners don’t like these creative elements
  • It can make the resume harder to read
  • Makes it impossible to upload into online talent search programs

You don’t know how many times, someone invites me out for coffee to review their resume and they are using an 8-point font so they could get the resume on one page. Big mistake. Hirinng managers and human resource managers do not like eyestrain. If the resume is mechanically challenging, they might just throw it aside for one that is easier on the eyes. And when I mean aside I mean ignore, delete or toss in the trashcan.

When I tell this to students I get statements like, “That’s is unfair !” And while they are right, we also dealing with reality better known as the truth. There are LOTS of resumes out there and that is part of the problem these days.

If you are a college graduate looking for your first job, a one-page resume is might be just fine depending on your work history. However don’t let it limit you. If you have had a job, you should tell the hiring manager what you DID. If a course project, internship or volunteer work is relevant then place it down.

Also, in light of the current scanning scenario, more pages is not a deterrent because someone either an intern or HR assistant who doesn’t care how long your resume is will automatically scan your “document” into the database. Or you are uploading into a recruitment management system.  Once it is in there and searchable, you have accomplished one of the goals of resume distribution.

After the dust settles, remember that the resume must tell your story. If you have a longer story, the resume needs to be longer. And please, put the experience you had with each job under a section for that employer so we can tell WHEN and for WHOM you did WHAT. Hiring managers don’t have time to guess and they won’t call to clarify. They will just move on down the line. Short resumes for people long on experience are not appropriate and the real audience for these short resumes is people with short attention spans and low IQ’s. I assure you that if the resume gets into the right hands, it will be read thoroughly. If you have omitted significant chunks of your experience, it could be assumed that you do not have the experience in the first place. Heinous, so when in doubt, TELL YOUR STORY.

Here’s an ironic twist – Guess what group collectively has the worst resumes? Recruiters and HR Experts!

Here are just a few more mistakes people make:

  • Your focus is wrong – don’t be afraid to have multiple versions of your resume.
  • You have typos in your resume – no one is perfect make sure you have as many people as you can to review your resume.  better that they catch small problems then your hiring manager.
  • Information in the header or footer – not scannable.
  • Making it about your experience and not your accomplishments
  • Using vague statements – be as specific as you can be.
  • Exaggerating or lying on your resume

Oh and by the way, another really important point… Wait! Oh NO!!!..I have to stop, it’s going to be more than one pa–

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