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One-Page Resumes, Must it be one page?

Woman holding resume application with pen and coffee
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One of the most-asked questions when I assist people with resume writing is “Can I have a two-page resume?”  The answers vary and it depends on your experience.  While I work with most people to get a one-page resume created, there are times when people I meet need to do a two-page, and in some cases a three-page resume (this is rare). The general rule is that your resume should only go back 10 years and that it should only be one page.  There are some exceptions though.  Perhaps you worked at one place for the last 20 years, then it would probably be okay to put in another place or two that were you were employed as long as it related and relevant to your current experience and the job you are applying for. 

However, if you are applying for a career that you have been working at for a very long time, for example, let’s say Nursing Administration, you may need to go back further with your work history.  I recently worked with a woman who relocated to this area after being away for some time.  She asked for my assistance, and when she came in, she presented me with a three-page resume.  I was taken back a little, and indicated to her that this might be a little too much. But, as I started working with her more, I realized that she needed to have this three-page resume, because the company she was applying to required it. They needed to know everything about her since she was going through an extensive background check.   

So, it is fair to say that in some cases, a longer resume may be needed and that it can depend on the occupation/career and the requirements of any given employer.  But as I mentioned earlier, I generally like to assist people in getting it on one page whenever possible.  I have attached some wonderful examples of one-page resumes that you may use as a guide when creating your own. 

Resume Sample One

Resume Sample Two

Resume Sample Three

Having said all this, aim for one page if you can.  If you need to do two pages, it is best to at least get your information on 1.5 pages (a page in and half).  There is nothing more irksome to Human Resource Professionals or Hiring Managers when one presents a page and only has a few lines of text on another page. (They may see this as you not making the effort to format it so that you could get it to fit one page, and this can come across as not wanting to try and may be construed as being lazy.) 

Note:  If you utilize the resume templates in Microsoft Word, which is acceptable, make sure you pay attention to the following items: 

  • Make sure you delete all of the “Lorem Ipsum” text that is in the template.  What is “Lorem Ipsum?”  Lorem Ipsum is called “dummy” or “placeholder” text.  This nonsensical text is used to give you an idea of how to format your text and shows how the layout of your text should be.  Make sure you delete this text (Lorem Ipsum—all of it) when placing in your own text.  If you don’t do this, the person reading your resume may think that there are spelling errors.  And many professionals frown when they see spelling or grammatical errors.  The applicant tracking system that your resume may be uploaded to may also not recognize keywords.  
     
  • Sometimes Microsoft Word resume templates do not use “Lorem Ipsum,” and you may get a template that will explain and give suggestions on what you should put in each section of your resume.  Don’t leave certain words like “VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE OR LEADERSHIP” in a header section (see example below).  If you are only listing Volunteer Experience, it would probably be a good idea to take out “OR LEADERSHIP.”  If you don’t do this, the person reading your resume may figure out that you used a template, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but the fact that you did not delete “OR LEADERSHIP,” tells them that you may not be able to pay attention to detail.  

Example: 

VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE OR LEADERSHIP 

Did you manage a team for your club, lead a project for your favorite charity, or edit your school newspaper? Go ahead and describe experiences that illustrate your volunteer or leadership abilities.  Did you volunteer and help the community in some way, list all of that experience in this section?  (This italic text above is one example section of a template that gives you advice and suggestions as I mentioned previously.)   So, if you are just going to list your volunteer experience which may not contain “Leadership,” then again delete “OR LEADERSHIP.”  If you have leadership experience that does go along with your volunteer experience, then it is probably wise to list the header as VOLUNTEER EXPERIENCE AND LEADERSHIP.  These are the little details you need to focus on if you use a template. 

  • Another thing to pay attention to is if you use templates from other programs. You may see something like this: 

 <Your Name>
<Your Street Address>
<Your City, State Zipcode>
Home: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
Cell: (xxx) xxx-xxxx
Email: xxx@xxx.xxx 

 <Objective OR Professional Summary OR Profile> 

<Company> • <Position> • <Start Date> ­ <End Date>
<City>, <ST> 
          • <Insert duties>
          • <Insert duties>

These < > signs are actually place holders and should not be part of your resume.   I have seen at times people inadvertently leave them in.   Also note the x’s in the phone and email sections.  Make sure all those x’s are deleted and replaced with the appropriate letters and numbers! 

And as far as the Objective, Professional Summary or Profile, please make sure you pick the appropriate section header.  There is a difference with these headers.  When in doubt, look at what these headers mean on Google or any other professional website that explains them in more detail. 

So, what I am saying essentially is that it is probably better to create your own resume by scratch if you feel using a template may be too cumbersome.  And while using templates is fine, you may find that you are paying more attention to the formatting of your resume as opposed to the content, this is where grammatical and other mistakes may happen more.  Also, it may be tempting to copy and paste from a resume that you may see on Google or some other search engine platform.  You can certainly use the resume as a guide, but make sure you delete information that is not applicable to your resume.  Often times people get so enmeshed with the formatting of their resume, they fail to sometimes see the text that was part of the original template.  And if it gets sent to an employer or human resources professional who recognizes this, you may not be called in for an interview. 

Also recognize that we are human beings and are prone to mistakes.  I have worked with individuals who have noticed minor grammatical and spelling errors on resumes and still brought that individual in for an interview and hired them and were glad they did.  So, it is important to realize that some hiring managers may not be too upset over something like this.   

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