Your Resume Should Be One Page, and That Is a Good Thing

Resumes have a lot of rules. To some people, it feels like too many. I was reminded of this recently while taking a live call as an expert on Ryan Foland’s radio show, Get Notified. The caller was a self-identified millennial job seeker who had a bone to pick about the one-page requirement for resumes. She felt with millennials becoming the majority in the workforce, old guidelines should no longer apply. A single page resume, from her perspective, could not contain all her peers had to offer. That viewpoint inspired me to share my feelings on the topic since I know a lot of people worry about this particular resume tenet.

When it comes to resume length, it is typically determined by your amount of experience in your field. The basic recommendation goes like this: if you have less than 10 years of experience, a one-page resume is your maximum. No discussion! If you have over 10 years of experience, you should stick to a two-page limit. The caveat is that every item that goes onto that second page better add massive value because if the first page doesn’t sell you, no one will ever read that far! If that isn’t reason enough to get on board with the one sheet concept, here are three more.

1. Attention spans are short.

Some experts may say that in the digital age the length of your resume doesn’t really matter. I’d say that’s rubbish; people’s attention spans are less than a gnat’s these days. People are in information overload. That makes delivering all the goods in one page a necessity. If somebody really wants to know more, which is the true purpose of the resume, they can look you up on LinkedIn or give you a call. We live in a society of scrollers and skimmers that want news in bite-size chunks. Your resume is no exception.

2. You’ll land more interviews.

HR needs you to be succinct. They review hundreds of resumes for each opening, which requires them to identify core points quickly. If they are buried in a lengthy resume they can’t do their job efficiently and it often leads to your resume landing in the trash. Six seconds is long enough to make an impression, but it’s not long enough to read a biography. A resume that is concise and cleanly laid out will always outperform its opposite.

3. It forces you to get focused.

When space is a hot commodity, you can’t rattle on with long-winded prose or paragraphs. You have to get real specific real fast; every item you put on that resume needs to be valuable. There is no room for anything else. It forces your hand, which for most people is the only way you can get them to cut the BS. By leaving duties, and other excess filler on the cutting room floor, you automatically cut to your best stuff. Your unique brand becomes crystal clear which creates a much more persuasive and compelling resume. By default, this rule forces you to write a stronger resume. How can you be mad at that?

Millennials that think this is a rule to rebel against, I challenge you to do the opposite. Be so bold as to embrace the single page and make it exceptional. Be the generation that knows their value, what it means to employers, and how to pitch it to them in a way that makes you stand out rather than get lost in a sea of sameness.

Embrace the simplicity of focusing solely on your distinctive talents and you’ll never worry about the length of your resume again.