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Should a Resume Be One Page
Is the One-Page Resume Rule Still in Effect?
If you're looking for a new job, you probably have plans to revise your resume. If it's been a while since you've been job hunting, you should probably be aware that the resume strategies that worked when you were a new graduate aren't always suitable for your current search. One of those strategies is the one-page limit rule. While this made sense when you had minimal job experience, it doesn't always work for mid-career and experienced employees.
How Long Should a Resume Be?
While it's true that HR departments and hiring managers appreciate concise resumes, it's also true that people with more than five years of job experience aren't going to be able to fit all of their credentials and work history on a single 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper. That's why career counselors and recruiters often reserve the one-page rule for recent graduates who are looking for entry-level jobs.
Some employers may specify a one-page resume. If this is the case, do what is necessary to distill your qualifications to one page.
What Should Be on a Resume?
Resumes should contain the information that a potential employer needs to determine whether you might be a good fit for a position, as well as a way to get in touch with you. Here are some typical resume sections:
- Contact information: Place your contact information at the top of your resume: Your full name, email address and phone number are required. You can also add your city and state, but a full address takes up additional space
- Education: If you are a new graduate, list your educational achievements after your contact information. Include the name of your schools, the city and state where the schools were located, years attended, your major/minor, and any degrees or credentials earned. If you are not a new graduate, place this section after listing your work experience.
- Work experience: Here's where you list your previous jobs and how long you worked at each, as well as your duties and accomplishments. Again, if you are a new graduate, switch the position of this section with your list of schools.
- Credentials: List professional licenses and certifications.
- Skills: In some fields, hiring managers want to see a list of your professional or vocational skills, such as experience with certain types of software.
When applying for a job, read the listing carefully and make note of significant keywords regarding job titles, duties and requirements. If you think you are a good fit, edit your resume to duplicate the keywords used in the listing. This can improve your chances of being called in for an interview.
Do You Have to Put All Your Jobs on Your Resume?
HR directors and hiring managers are most interested in your work history over the last decade or so. To be on the safe side, list your jobs over the past 10-15 years, although you could go further back if your employment was relevant to your current position and you want to demonstrate the depth of your experience. If you've worked side jobs over the years, you generally don't have to list them either, unless they are relevant to the position you are applying for or you took a part-time job during a period of unemployment.
Consolidating Your Resume
Whether you are planning on a one or two-page resume, make it easy to scan and understand. This means removing unnecessary words, keeping sentences short and not overloading the reader with information.
One easy way to trim your word count is to avoid personal pronouns and passive voice:
- Instead of "I was promoted three times during my tenure at XYZ Company," opt for "Promoted three times between 2013 and 2017."
- Instead of "In this role, I was expected to provide regular reports on our computer systems," try "Prepared weekly reports on internal IT systems."
Brief, active descriptions are powerful, easy to read and take up less space.
Another common mistake is including detailed information about each of your previous jobs. While it is true that hiring managers want to develop an understanding of your previous work responsibilities, they are mostly concerned with recent jobs. When composing your resume, reserve detailed job descriptions for the last two or three jobs you have held.
The same holds true for the education section of your resume. If you are a college graduate, you don't need to include your high school information.
Consolidating your resume does not mean leaving out essential information that could make you appear dishonest or raise questions in the reader's mind about the document's accuracy. It's particularly important to list all of your previous employers and work dates. Leaving out employers for the sake of brevity could create the appearance of a gap in your work history, which may be questioned by the hiring manager. Also, don't compromise the readability of your resume by shrinking the font.
Use your cover letter to briefly highlight important experiences or achievements that aren't included or explained in your resume. As with your resume, you still want to be concise, but a few sentences in your cover letter can help you keep your resume to two pages.
Spelling and grammar checkers are useful, but they can still miss some errors. Ask a few friends to proofread your resume for you. Double check your contact information as well—test your email address by copying and pasting it into an email that you send to yourself. Make sure that your phone number and mailing address are also up-to-date.
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Lainie Petersen writes about business, real estate and personal finance, drawing on 25 years experience in publishing and education. Petersen's work appears in Money Crashers, Selling to the Masses, and in Walmart News Now, a blog for Walmart suppliers. She holds a master's degree in library science from Dominican University.