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One Page or Two?

Jack Mulcahy -- However you create your resume, make sure it contains all the important information you want to convey to the hiring manager, no matter if it's one page or two. Don't cheat yourself over an arbitrary "rule."

Words gain power the more sparingly they are used. If you don't remember your high school or college English teachers emphasizing that rule, I've just done it for you. And it applies to resumes no less than to high school or college essays, term papers, or dissertations.

How, you may ask, does this apply to resumes? And it's a valid question, because a resume is intended to be a brief introduction to you and your achievements. It's not supposed to be your autobiography, nor is its aim to provide a blow-by-blow description of your entire working life. A resume is a quick advertisement for you, a teaser if you will, to pique a hiring manager's interest in calling you in for an interview.

The question applies to your resume when you ask whether that document should be one page or two. You will still see countless advice pages preaching the gospel of one page, no ifs, ands, or buts. Their argument is that the hiring manager won't want to read more than one page, and that if you can't say it in one page, it isn't worth saying at all.

That would be fine, in a perfect world, perhaps. However, this world is not perfect, and some people's histories simply cannot be summed up so neatly into a single page. I'm not talking about someone famous, such as Neil Armstrong or Dr. Stephen Covey when I refer to "some people." No, I'm talking about normal, average people, who through no fault of their own have accomplished more than can fit onto a single page.

I have seen resumes with the print so tiny it could barely be read, because the client believed he needed to keep the resume to one page. This is irritating to read. As a friend of mine says, it's like talking to someone who mumbles. Another colleague reported seeing a resume that was almost completely black, to the extent she thought the client's printer must be faulty, because the client wanted to squeeze two pages of information onto one.

More importantly, I have seen resumes that have completely left out vital information about the client's qualifications and/or accomplishments in order to adhere to that arbitrary one-page rule.

If you have enough information to warrant using two pages, by all means do so. Cut and trim the "fat" from your verbiage, don't use two words when one will do, but don't be afraid to go to a second page if you need it.

There is a caveat here, however: if your second page only contains less than a quarter page of material, you should consider trying to cut down to one page, either by using a slightly smaller font or by slightly expanding your margins. Go through the document again with a sharp blade, cutting and trimming wasted words and phrases. Are there lines that consist of only a single word from a sentence? Those are prime targets for your blade.

However you create your resume, though, make sure it contains all the important information you want to convey to the hiring manager, no matter if it's one page or two. Don't cheat yourself over an arbitrary "rule."

A professional writer all his life, Jack Mulcahy started his career writing articles, corporate newsletters, marketing materials, and short fiction stories for various newspapers, magazines, and other publications. Jack combines expert interviewing, writing, and design skills to develop strong personal branding statements, LinkedIn profiles, high-performance resumes, and attention-getting cover letters that empower clients to showcase their skill set, value, and competitive edge by not only earning interviews through their resumes, but by elevating their self-confidence, interview skills, and ultimate employability and salary potential.

© 2017 Jack Mulcahy

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