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One Page Résumés – Fact or Fiction

A question I am asked over and over again as a professional résumé writer is, “Does my résumé have to be one page?” I’m not sure where this idea began, but maybe some poor, overworked Human Resources person had a meltdown one day over the 3 foot high stack of resumes on her desk. Perhaps she decided that if everyone sent her just one page, she’d have half as much work to do, could get her weekends back, and see daylight again. So she decided to start spreading the word and from there the urban legend was born. (This is just a fanciful little story – but I’m sure you get my point.)

So, does a résumé have to be one page? In short, the answer to this question is “No!” The one page “rule” is not true.

After all, having a one page résumé only suits the person that is reading it, but it may force you to leave out essential information. And the most important thing about your résumé is to sell you and your skills, which you can’t do if you are leaving things out because of some random, arbitrary rule about one page.

Your résumé needs to be as long as it takes to sell you, no longer and no shorter. If your résumé is succinct, relevant, and has a format that flows, your résumé can go to two pages. Some (not all) students applying for their first job may have a one page résumé. For people at the executive or director level, having three pages is not unusual.

This is not a license to throw irrelevant minutia into your résumé because you have more room. (Remember that day when you walked past the copier and put more paper in it because it was beeping? – this is not the type of résumé material you are looking for! Just a little résumé writer humor.) Think about what is going to be important to your next employer, what’s going to help the company make money and how you can help them do that. That is the type of relevant material that should find its way onto your résumé.

Maybe you can help me start a new urban legend, you know, how it’s OK to have a two-page résumé? Pass it on...

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