One Page or Two? The Visual Aspects of a Good Resume.

One of the most frequent questions I get is, “how long should my resume be?” Gone are the days that dictated a resume had to be one page. However, that doesn’t mean you should go hog-wild and produce a 5-page document listing everything and anything in regards to your work experience. Remember, the shorter the resume, the more likely someone will want to read it.

The sad truth is, you have about 10 seconds to make an impression with a resume. Don’t ever go longer than two pages. First of all, it shows that you are unable to filter yourself or effectively communicate on paper, which doesn’t bode well for your skills if someone does in fact choose to hire you. Your resume is a teaser that’s meant to encourage someone to meet you. You can cover the rest in the interview.

Think about the “K.I.S.S. principal” when it comes to the design and layout of your resume. “Keep it simple stupid.” Use a simple font, without too many flourishes. Keep your font size at 10-points or larger. Any smaller and your resume will be too difficult to read. Have your name big and bold at the top of the page and make sure that your contact information is in close proximity to your name.

Let’s talk about paper. You’re probably wondering why the hell I’m even going to bother discussing paper when resumes have gone completely electronic. I’m all in favor of saving the trees, but I also know that you need to get a job. If you send your resume electronically, it’s going to hit e-mailboxes alongside hundreds of other resumes, waiting to be opened. If you really want to stand out, send an old-fashioned snail mail version as well. When doing so, keep the paper and the design simple. I still remember the resume that came to me on bright orange paper. Everyone who walked by my desk wanted to know who sent me that horrible colored paper. Sure, her resume stood out, but not in a positive way. If you want to be different, choose a professional paper that has texture to it, vs. color. I personally prefer and recommend a 28-lb vellum (translucent) paper.

Times have changed. Most people don’t stay with the same company for 25 years. With the Web 1.0/2.0 bombs, most resumes that come across my desk are from people who have held multiple jobs in a short time frame. Always put dates of employment, using months and years. If you are evasive, you will send up a red flag. The reader will wonder “why is there a hole here?” If you are up front, it will work to your advantage.

A resume reflects an awareness of order and aesthetics, attentiveness to detail, an ability to communicate, and an overall sense of confidence in who you are. Therefore, your resume is a direct reflection of your conscientiousness and work ethic. If you do it right, doors of opportunity will be opened to you. Remember the following:

• Be accurate and concise.
• Use bulleted sentences.
• Avoid using a conversational tone and pronouns to describe your accomplishments.
• Use powerful action words to draws the reader in.

Again, recruiters and hiring managers only spend a few seconds scanning each résumé. If your résumé is inviting enough to read, you’re guaranteed to get more interviews and, ultimately, a job.

Carpe diem

1 Comment

  • online resume
    August 27, 2009

    I’ll definitely keep in mind the things mentioned in this post while preparing my next resume. Particularly liked the K.I.S.S. principle. SIMPLICITY is the key.
    Thanks for the post.

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