Busting the One-Page Resume Myth

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Busting the One-Page Resume Myth

Recently I volunteered at the Melbourne Career expo, where I conducted professional resume reviews and career counselling sessions with the general public. I was fortunate to meet many diverse people from different backgrounds, industries and professional levels.

After completing several resume reviews, I noticed that many people had a one-page resume. Their resumes were all very similar. They contained the smallest size font (which was barely readable) and the majority were formatted into two columns. Some were a combination of the two.

I honestly didn’t know where to start with these resumes! They were confusing and overwhelming, and lacked an effective flow. I was, however, curious to know why these individuals were using a one-page resume?

Why people use one-page resumes

During my conversations, I learnt that these individuals had been given incorrect and detrimental ‘advice’ from well-meaning friends, family and sometimes teachers.

The advice all seemed to go like this: “companies only want you to send a one page resume” or “they won’t read a resume more than one page” or my favourite “you are not allowed to have a resume that exceeds one page”

They would then pass on this ‘advice’ to their family, friends and network and this huge misconception of a one-page resume seemed to spread like a wildfire.

As a Career Practitioner and a Professional Resume Writer of 15 years, I don’t believe I have ever written a one-page Resume in my career.

This misconception also really worries me as a one-page resume can negatively impact a jobseeker’s chances of securing work. When I asked these jobseekers if they were receiving any feedback from their applications, the majority advised me that they had little to no feedback from employers and recruiters.

The problem with a one-page resume

A one-page resume is rarely effective in telling your career story or positioning you appropriately in the job market.

In addition, overwhelming the reader with too much content on one page, that is too small to read and too hard to follow will guarantee that your Resume is passed over and not given the attention it deserves.

Furthermore, a two-column resume format will compromise your content if it is being scanned by an applicant tracking system (ATS).

What to do instead

My professional advice is to keep your resume as simple as possible.

Images, graphics and fancy fonts all look nice, but they are not best practice in Australia and they could compromise your application being passed through ATSs.

Instead, I recommend you:

  • Make it as easy for the reader to follow by using a clear and simple format that reads across the page from left to right (no need for columns)
  • Use a font such as Arial, Calibri or Garamond and ensure the font size is no smaller than 9.5
  • Ensure there is lots of white space on your resume
  • Use clear headings to separate and group content, making it easier for the reader to follow
  • Avoid fancy graphics or images. Although these may look appealing, they are not necessary nor recommended for resumes

What about resume length?

There is also no hard or fast rule when it comes to resume length. As long as the content is relevant, value adding and tailored to the role you are applying for, then a two to three page resume is perfectly fine. Four to five pages is often acceptable for more senior professionals.

There might be instances where an application will ask for a one page resume and it is important to follow the application requirements, but in these situations, ensure you are only including relevant information tailored to the role and keep your content simplified.

Seek professional advice

While your friends and family may have well-meaning resume ‘advice’, I would err on the side of caution about implementing their suggestions.

If you are unsure about current Australian best practices, consult with a Professional Resume Writer or Career Practitioner who is actually trained and experienced in industry best standards. You can research and find these professionals on LinkedIn or on the CDAA ‘Find a Career Specialist’ directory.

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