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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Good Riddance to the One Page Resume

Most high school graduates hear it.  Most college students are told the same story.  What is it that they are taught and what is so bad about it?  The high school and college experiences have several noble purposes...learning basic skills, maturing meeting new people and learning about other cultures, and one more very important purpose...to train graduates with the skills they need to get a job that is the best fit for their skills, talents, and interests.

The way that students are the most ill-advised during their school years in preparation for their career is that their resume should be a one-page summary of their experience, skills, and education.

As a recruiter, I see the same practice in job seekers who have been out of school for several years.  For reasons that have no basis in fact, students and anyone else who is in the job market have heard that their resumes should be limited to one page.  By following this advice, what these job seekers are really limiting are their chances of getting the interviews they want for the jobs they seek.

There have been many reasons, none of them valid, that seek to justify the one-page resume model.  One of the most common reasons is that recruiters and hiring managers are busy people and they want everything summed up on one page.  Reality paints a much different picture.  Recruiters and hiring managers are focused on finding the best candidates for the position they are trying to fill.  It is true that they are busy people, but that fact is really why they want to know more than what a candidate can put on one page.   Businesses often have several objectives, but one that is common to all of them is that they do not want to waste time interviewing job candidates who are not at least reasonably suited for the job, and a one-page resume does not give them enough information to make a good decision about bringing someone in for an interview.

The hiring decision is really a buying decision.  Assume that this weekend you are planning on purchasing a new car.  You go to several dealerships to look at various models, and as you leave each one you ask for some information that you can take home with you to help you make the decision.  Car dealers produce booklets of several pages show the vehicle in various settings.  They have pages about the various colors, the power train, the interior, and even the safety features.  But what if when you asked for this material, the sales person said "I can give you this one page handout that has a lot of information on it...I hope it's enough to help you."  If you are about to spend tens of thousands of dollars on this car, doesn't it make sense that you would want a publication that gives you all the information you could possibly want to help you make your decision?

Organizations today operate in a fashion similar to the example above.  If they are going to spend tens of thousands of dollars to hire, train, and employ an individual, they want to know as much as possible about that person...and a one-page resume will not give them what they want to see.

In the late 90's and for the first seven years of this century, a brief document that provided only your name, education, work experience, and contact information was enough to get you multiple interviews.  That was when were in a strong seller's market. That market does not exist anymore.  Today employers are incredibly selective for one simple reason...they can be!  We are now in a strong buyer's market where the number of great jobs is much less than the number of skilled, qualified people to fill those jobs. If your job hunt is to be successful, you must separate yourself from the crowd rather than blend into it.

Hiring managers today want much more than just the basic information found on a one-page resume.  They want to know as much as possible about the person behind the resume and the specific skills that the candidate can bring to the job.  One of the most important priorities that employers focus on in today's job market is whether a candidate will be a good fit into the culture of the organization. 

The point to remember is this: If the best you have to offer can be summarized on one page, you have not done enough.  If you make the first page good enough, the recruiters and hiring managers will read the other pages as well.

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