Creating fresh starts
and new directions since 2007



Focus on value first, length second

Submitted Saturday, June 21st 2014 7:57 am

How long should a resume be? One page? Two pages? In my experiences in working with job seekers, length is the area of resume preparation that is most often asked about, and it is might be the most misunderstood. In preparing a resume, the first and foremost goal is to present a clear, compelling picture of value to employers to generate interest and interview opportunities. Given this objective, I always recommend to clients to focus first on getting the essential information down and then after that to consider length as the document starts to come together.

If in preparing your resume you are mainly guided by length in making decisions about content, it is possible that you may compromise your ability to project sufficient value and to compete successfully with similarly qualified candidates. Whether your resume is one, two or three pages long (I do not recommend going beyond three pages), you want to create a document that has enough information so it communicates an optimal level of value to enable you to compete effectively for the positions you are seeking.

Regarding two- and three-page resumes, the good news is that there is more acceptance today of documents of these lengths by hiring managers and recruiters. They understand that experienced workers simply need more room to adequately present their background and skills, even after allowing for content that is focused and well-edited.

As a very general rule of thumb, a one-page resume will often suffice for traditional students just out of school or for individuals who have worked for several years. For mid-career individuals or those with 10 or more years of experience, often a second page is needed to adequately document their background and skills. Senior-level candidates and executives frequently require a three-page resume to properly capture the breadth and depth of their experiences and capabilities. Keep in mind that these are general guidelines and there are all kinds of exceptions. Again, bottom line: When creating a resume, focus first on creating value and generating excitement in presenting the best things about you. After you have done this, then look at length.

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