The Importance of a One-Page Resume

pascal3I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting and hiring recently. It’s a time-consuming process, and over the years I’ve developed my own methodology for finding candidates that I think will be a good fit at Punchbowl. One important characteristic I look for in potential employees is the ability to express their thoughts concisely. One way I screen for this ability is to ask candidates to prepare a one-page resume.

In fact, in every one of our job postings, we ask candidates to send us a *one-page* resume (and we include the asterisks to make sure they don’t miss the instruction). We consider it the first test to see if the candidate has the ability to take a lot of information and distill it into only the parts that really, really matter. Regardless of how much experience you have, I believe that you should be able to highlight the important part of your experience in a single page. As far as I’m concerned, everything else is just color commentary.

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time.”

Blaise Pascal, French philosopher and mathematician

Look, I understand that you have lots and lots of experience. That’s great. Maybe other employers want to know where you went to high school, every camp counseling job you’ve held, and what you like to do on the weekends. I don’t need to know all of those details right now. At this point in the recruiting process, it’s way more important to me that you know how to take a lot of information and deliver a succinct summary of who you are and why you’re a fit for the position. I ask for a one-page resume because I want to know if you have the skill of brevity and the ability to communicate an executive summary. Do you truly understand the job you’re applying for and which part of your experience you should promote? Bottom line: can you get to the point quickly and help me to see why you’re a fit for the position?

One-page resume advice: It may seem daunting to you to whittle down your resume into only one page, so here’s some advice. First, get rid of the fluff. Remove all of the unnecessary language and use action words to describe your experience (managed, led, analyzed). Think about structuring the information on the page to make it very easy to read. Use bolding, bullets, and clear formatting to make it easy for someone to quickly scan your resume. Some of the best resumes I’ve read use the sidebar to highlight pertinent career details. Still struggling to keep your resume to one page? Then make sure you don’t tell me that your skill set includes Microsoft Word and the Internet. In this day and age, it’s like telling me that you know how to tie your own shoes. And please, oh please, I don’t need to know that you worked at a pizza joint when you were in high school. Only include relevant experience on your resume.

Exceptions to the one-pager: There are occasions when more than one page is warranted. For example, if you are in the medical or science industry, CVs are the norm. It’s expected that you will list all of your publications, presentations at professional societies, your teaching history, etc. More than one page is expected.

Other suggestions: Instead of listing every detail of experience on your resume, concentrate on your online brand. Spend a lot of energy on your LinkedIn profile, because it’s the first place that most recruiters will look. This is the place where you can list all of your experience with excruciating detail. If you have a Twitter account, make sure to update your profile with a little information about you. Along those lines, most hiring managers are going to Google the crap out of you, so do this yourself and address any issues you see. For example, be sure to get rid of any inappropriate photos (because I will find them).

SWAMI SAYS: I always ask for one-page resumes, so take the time to create and send us a one-page resume. Show me you are smart and skilled enough to communicate your value in a concise manner. That’s the first step to showing me you’re the right candidate for the position.

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One comment

  1. Demanding a focused one-page resume also requires the potential employee to spend time thinking more specifically and introspectively about the position and his or her personal qualifications and goals before merely firing off an application with a pre-fabricated resume. One size just doesn’t fit all – you may as well find that out before wasting your time applying.

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