The One-Page Resume Myth

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You can drown it. You can shoot it. You can stab and wound it severely, but it won't die. You can expose it as a fraud, but people will buy it anyway. And there is nothing you can do to make it disappear.

We're talking about the myth of the one-page resume.

Believers of the myth have shown contorted creativity. Some resumes come with half-inch margins or less, some expand to legal size paper and others appear with smaller type … and less space between the lines.

They are cute solutions, but they don't win any brass rings.

Just who perpetuates this myth? They're the authors of books, writers for consumer magazines, well-meaning resume experts and others who have rarely -- or should I say never -- hired anyone.

Perhaps in other disciplines, the one-page resume is demanded or has intrinsic value. I doubt it, but I really can't talk about other disciplines. As the president of an executive recruitment firm that has conducted searches only in direct marketing for 31 years, I can pontifically pronounce this: Bury the myth … and pour two feet of concrete over it.

This horrendous myth will result in many lost opportunities.

When we, as recruiters, call to explore an opportunity with potential candidates, and we ask them to prepare a resume for our interview and our clients, the question invariably arises: How long should it be?

The answer is simple: as long as it takes, as long as you remember that it's a resume and not a biography. Your resume is not intended to be comprehensive, detailed history, but a summary of your experience, qualifications and accomplishments. Always remember that the employer first reviews the resume for critical words or knowledge.

When you think of all the elements that should go into a resume, it's incredible that it can be done in two pages, or even three. But it can be done, and done well.

And in direct marketing, a discipline that respects quantification, a resume can be worthless without numbers and percent increases when listing your accomplishments.

Since we talk of quantification, let's quantify this article. Based on our most recent 100 recruitments, here are the figures:

· 18 percent of the candidates we recruited had one-page resumes. Generally, their careers were limited to one company and showed progressive positions. In most cases, these people were recruited for lower management positions.

· 59 percent of those hired had two-page resumes and were focused in middle management.

· 23 percent of the candidates who were hired through our searches had three-page resumes, or even four. These professionals with longer resumes generally had longer careers that required a greater degree of amplification.

But no matter what the length, put it on the resume if it's important.

More opportunities have been lost because of what was left out of a resume than what was put in. It's a situation that we, as executive recruiters, try to advise our candidates to remedy before the candidate loses and the myth wins again.


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