Saturday, Apr 21, 2018
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Just the One?

To every job seeker who has struggled to cram a r sum onto one page, give it a rest. I hereby give you permission to exceed that limit.

In my view, the one-page caveat is outdated and unnecessary. If you don t have enough experience or accolades to spill onto a second page, one page is sufficient. R sum s of senior executives can and often should run three to five pages to sufficiently communicate the depth of their experience and skills, both tangible and intangible.

Then how long should a r sum be? Remember, a r sum is a document that sells you as the product, so it needs to appeal to the buyer from the buyer s self-interested point of view. It needs to be tightly written with bulleted accomplishments that answer the company s question: What s in it for me? Don t compromise on presenting your abilities merely to save space.

Consider this possible r sum line: Completely overhauled sales department by hiring entirely new sales force. It s brief, but it does not work hard on your behalf. It does not tell the hiring authority how adept you are at running a profitable sales department. It does not say how many people you hired, how you did it, what the previous numbers were, what the percentage of increase was or any other details that might demonstrate what you re capable of and generate excitement about hiring you.

Two other methods people use to keep a r sum to the supposed one-page required length are block paragraphs, which can make for too much solid text, or a microscopic font no one likes to squint.

A r sum should not leave the reader in doubt or with questions, and it should be inviting to read. When the type is condensed, the document is difficult to read. Why would an employer want to continue to read to the end? When your computer skills are sprinkled throughout your employment history, how does that answer the question, What computer programs does this person know? If companies listed in your work history aren t clearly defined by spacing, font and typeface, for how long is the employer going to put effort into trying to figure out where you ve worked? If it takes two seconds, that s two seconds too long.

Details of your accomplishments are what tell your story and help sell you to an employer. Let those details, not an arbitrary rule, dictate the length of your r sum .

One place you don t want to cut short is the section before your employment history. Your profile/summary is the most important part of your r sum . It tells the reader what s to come and sometimes determines if the rest of the document is read, skimmed or ignored. Even if you write this section in fragments, focus it on your talents, skills and what you bring to the table. It can vary in length and wording depending on what job you re going for and the extent of your professional background.

The further back you go, the less detailed you need to be, depending on how your past relates to the position you re seeking. Let s say your first job out of school was a retail sales clerk in a local boutique, working on commission. Eventually, you became the top salesperson. Soon you were promoted to assistant manager, then manager. Now, 25 years later, you re a regional vice president for a department store chain. As you grow in age and experience, the details of all the sales contests you won may dwindle to a simple Consistently outsold other salespeople. Two separate management titles might become one bulleted accomplishment.

Write your r sum concisely without sacrificing detail or depth. Pay attention to the graphic design to make sure it is inviting to all readers. The words must reflect you; don t copy generic phrases from r sum templates to simplify this time-consuming task. Put serious thought into it what you ve accomplished and how to best present that to a future employer. It s easy to try these shortcuts if your main goal is to stick to a regimented length. They compromise the benefits of the product which is you, after all and don t give the buyer enough information to make a decision.

Recruiters tend to screen candidates based on a r sum . Hiring authorities do the opposite. Even if your r sum is appalling, if your experience looks applicable to a recruiter s search they ll likely call you anyway. Companies won t.

So how long should your r sum be? Long enough to tell what you ve done, sell what you can do and be inviting enough to the eye to get a complete and thorough read. If the employer has any trouble with your r sum for any reason at all, then it s difficult for the company to make a decision. And if the decision isn t a definitive yes, it s usually a no.

Judi Perkins, owner of Bethel, Conn.-based VisionQuest, has been a search consultant for 25 years. You can sign up for her free newsletter at

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