With Resumes, Shorter is Better, Unless It Isn’t

Confusing title, right? Stick with me for a minute and I’ll explain.

By now everyone has heard the rule- make sure your resume fits on one page. I have said it myself more times than I can count. One of the most common client questions is about how you can manage to fit you life story onto one page.

The first thing I tell them is- you don’t. You don’t write your life story that is. A resume is a targeted advertisement with just one goal: to convince the reader that you are the one who can solve their problems. In order to do that, and do it well you need to be concise.

  • Bullet points, not paragraphs.
  • Soundbites not sentences.
  • Strong verbs, not lists of adverbs.
  • Kill all your “the”s and “a”s.
But sometimes this advice just doesn’t work. Sometimes you’ll need more than a page to really sell yourself. No matter how tightly you craft your soundbites, no matter how ruthless you are with the excess adverbs, you are still going to need more space. 

It’s OK. It happens. Something we resume writers need to do a better job of communicating is that while there are rules in this game, sometimes those rules need to be broken. There are exceptions.

The bottom line is that everyone is unique and their resume (or LinkedIn profile) should reflect that. As long as you are targeting your document directly at a specific job opening and are not including a lot of non-relevant detail, then you’ll be fine.

So, should you keep your resume to one page?

Yes, until you shouldn’t.