The One Page Resume: Outdated or Essential?

Many people agonize about getting their resume under a single page. They may mess with fonts, use fancy layout tricks and condense their text. But here's the plain truth: the one page resume came from a time when the world was very different. It's a pervasive myth which often reduces readability and leads to important information being left out. Many professionals actively advise against a one page resume today.

The Allure of the One Page Resume

The history and rationale behind a one page resume is easy to understand. It's sharp. It's concise. And, more importantly, it doesn't overly fatigue recruiters. The one page resume presupposes that the individual will be looking at dozens -- if not hundreds -- of resumes and may not give the time of day to a resume that demands too much. But a one page resume has been the advice for decades. There are a few problems with that rationale in the modern world.

In the modern world, most individuals have held quite a few positions. It's not like the old days, when an individual could be expected to stay with one or two companies their entire life. Further, in the modern world, recruiters usually don't go through resumes manually. They filter them first using computer software. In fact, any time hundreds of resumes are being sorted, it's almost always going through some sort of digital filtering. A shorter resume is not only not advantageous here, it's actively harmful because it will not contain as many of the necessary keywords.

But Don't Go Overboard With It

That being said, there's no reason to hand in an eight page tome. In fact, anything over two pages is probably overdoing it. A simple answer to the length question: your resume should be whatever length it needs to be. It should cover everything relevant from your experience, education and background. It should be concise and well-written, but you shouldn't have to resort to fancy trickery or formatting magic to get it down in page count. Further, you should focus on landing specific keywords in your resume text -- relevant keywords that will make your resume appropriately searchable to recruiters.

A one page resume is still a must for recent graduates and those with limited work experience, but in the modern era most people will have a resume that runs at least two pages -- and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

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