The #1 Question My Clients Ask Me About Resumes
Since I started writing resumes, I’ve been asked this question over a thousand times. I’ve had it asked to me from students all the way up to CEO’s. I’ve been asked this question in many different ways, shapes and sizes; but no matter the exact words, the question boils down to this:
Is it true that a resume should only be two pages in length?
The answer… drum roll please… FALSE! It is absolutely okay if a resume is less than two pages just as it is okay to have a resume that is more than two pages.
I’m not sure who came up with the arbitrary “two-page maximum resume writing rule”, but you see that advice littered across the internet. Some resume writers even put the fear of God into people advising people that “if your resume is more than two pages, recruiters won’t even read it”. That’s such baloney. You want to know why it’s okay to break this stupid rule?
Quality Over Quantity
1. Great resumes ensure “quality” of information (versus restricting yourself to “a certain amount of pages”). Imagine telling J.K. Rowling, “We’ll publish the next Harry Potter book, but it can only be 200 pages”. I think it’s a good bet that she’d find a new publisher. Quality of information in a resume means “placing all the necessary words that will fully support and strengthen your profession”. If all the words add up to one page, break that stupid rule! If all your words become three pages, break that stupid rule!
All Does Not Mean Everything and Anything
2. In point #1, I wrote: “…placing all the necessary words…”. All is a reminder to not forget OR delete something that matters. I had a client once who told me she had a degree in economics. I asked her why it wasn’t in her original resume. She told me that because she didn’t have room to include it. (Plus, she added, the degree was from so long ago, it probably wasn’t relevant anymore.) This client was applying for Business Management positions! Yes, a degree in Economics matters! Yes, break that stupid rule because employers need to know your expertise- all of it! What’s also true, is that if you have taken over twenty courses of professional development, it would be very wise to only include the Top Five courses that best support and strengthen your profession. Writing a resume is about finding that “balance of quality”… all the words that matter to enhancing the quality of your application… but not all the words that may distract the reader from evaluating the main requirements necessary to get an interview.
Answer the Job Ad
3. In my fifteen years as a Human Resources Recruiter, I have never, and I repeat never, thrown a resume in the garbage because it is more than two pages. Finding the best person for the job was my job- and it was just unprofessional and unethical to overlook a person because of the length of his/ her resume. What I did was this: if the information in a person’s resume met the stated requirements of the job, I brought the person in for an interview. I get why that stupid two-page rule is popular… it’s because the more information to read… the harder it is to find the “information that matters”. I tell my clients that “there is so much info here that you’ve created so many haystacks and have hidden all of your great knowledge and skill needles”. Don’t hide your quality! Answer the job ad with your resume by ensuring that you clearly and easily inform the reader that you meet the qualifications of the job. If you can do this in one-page, break that stupid rule! If you need three pages, break that stupid rule! If you need ten pages- I’d tell you that you should probably edit it because now you’re just getting silly.
A resume is about quality, balance and targeting the job in question. After you’re written your first draft, use some common sense! Evaluate it as if you are the hiring manager. Does it clearly tell the reader who you are? Does it capture interest? Does the information make sense or have you muddied the waters? Are you yawning by page four?
In the end, do not let the stupid, two-page maximum rule limit you. Your job when seeking employment is to begin the process with a document that tells someone (a) your profession, and (b) all the information that the profession requires to do the job.
If you’d like a free evaluation of your current resume, email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Take care, happy job hunting, and may I wish you every success in your career.
Founder of WriteMyResume.ca and AlbertaResumeWriter.ca