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Wednesday, December 13, 2006
We Don’t Need a Life History
Resume length is a much-debated topic. Some outplacement firms stand firmly on the old “one page rule” while many job seekers feel “more is better”. So exactly how long does a resume have to be? Before I give you a number, let’s look at the purpose of a resume and how it is used.

In today’s employment market, a resume functions as a career brochure – a marketing document. It is designed to sell a job candidate’s assets to an employer to a degree which causes the employer to contact the job candidate for a telephone interview. Most first interviews are telephone interviews or screenings and it is VITAL to know how to get back that first step of elimination (but that’s a different blog for a different day).

Not only does a resume serve as a career brochure, but it also serves as a technical document that is processed by computers. Gone are the days of pretty resumes printed on nice Crane paper and mailed through the USPS. Resumes are delivered by email these days. They are uploaded into massive databases where they are stored. They are searched by search engines or Human Resource Information Systems (HRIS). They are downloaded and uploaded and pretty much open to anyone who wants to read them.

With these two issues in mind, length of a resume comes into play. I dislike saying a resume is too long or too short. It’s possible for a new grad to have a one page resume simply because he doesn’t have much information to put on the resume at this beginning point of his career. On the flip side, a senior executive with twenty-five years of experience might easily have a three page resume. The rule of thumb is to cover the information, make the persuasion to contact the job seeker, and do it in as short a length as possible. That will vary according to job seeker.

A two page resume is generally considered the average these days but we do many three page resumes for our clientele because we work primarily with executives. That said, someone who brings us an old resume that is six pages long is not accomplishing the rule of thumb I noted above.

Length, in-and-of-itself, is a SYMPTOM of a larger problem – too little information or too much information. A six page resume probably has redundant information and too much detail that will bog down the reader, thus the length problem. A one page resume for a senior executive will not have enough information to persuade the reader to contact the job candidate.

Managing length is most easily done by an objective person like a professional resume writer who is not emotionally attached to the information. A professional resume writer can see what needs to be included and what is not relevant to winning the interview. Making that distinction is very difficult for a jobseeker who is emotionally attached to the information surrounding his career and does not have an objective point of view. That objectivity and knowledge of what should be included/excluded is part of the value of a professionally developed resume.

November 2005 / December 2005 / January 2006 / February 2006 / March 2006 / April 2006 / May 2006 / June 2006 / July 2006 / August 2006 / September 2006 / October 2006 / November 2006 / December 2006 /


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