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Resumes: One Page, Scannable, Relevant

I recently interviewed a candidate for a position in my company who had a resume that was four pages long. Not only was it four pages long but underneath each job title, the description was not a bulleted list of responsibilities or accomplishments but instead a paragraph of prose describing what he did in the post. Until that day, I never realized why job sites recommend resumes be limited to one page with accomplishments and responsibilities bulleted… it’s to help the reader understand what you’ve done and what you’re capable of without having to digest your writing like they’re taking the SAT.

I think the hard and fast rule of one page isn’t so much as important, especially if you have many years of experience, as the bulleted rule but two pages is really the maximum you can have on a resume. If your resume is longer than two pages then you’re really putting too much on that sucker and no one is going to be able to give it the level of attention they should if pressed they’re for time. While a long resume isn’t a deal breaker, you had better make it easily scannable by using bulleted lists or other visual cues. Please please please use bulleted lists or people looking at your resume simply won’t be able to review it effectively – especially if you’re just one in a stack.

Lastly, make sure you only put things that are relevant. If you’re going for a position doing software development, your experience as a retail sales clerk at Gap when you were in high school isn’t relevant. In fact, it’s a distraction because the reviewer will wonder why you even have it on there and whether you’re just taking up space. If you want to show a soft skill, such as sales experience even though it’s not 100% relevant, you had better make sure your bulleted list of responsibilities highlights those soft skills in a quantifiable way in order to dispel disbelief as to its relevance.

Lastly, look at your resume as if you were going to hire yourself for the position and you only had one shot to get it right. Would you give yourself the time of day or would you move to the next resume in the stack?