One page resumes – does size really matter?

The answer is YES! Maybe size shouldn't matter, but it does. According to a study by Dr. John Sullivan, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening and there is only a 1% chance that a person who submits a resume will be invited for an interview. This means a lot of competition. Knowing that many recruiters only look at the first 50 of their resumes, and they only spend 10 seconds on each one before deciding yea or nay, this situation isn't easy to swallow for job-seekers.

Dear recruiters out there, let’s assume you’re looking to hire a director with 10+ years of experience, ideally more than 20 publications, 3 different companies, and skills and knowledge in what feels like a million programs. If all of this is packed into a single resume, you’re looking at a a lot more than one page. Receiving more than 250 resumes for this opening will be a tough day…

Reviewing resumes is simply part of a recruiter’s job. The length of a resume shouldn’t matter as long as the quality and the information is relevant for the job. But fellow recruiters, let’s not lie to ourselves. There are many of us out there who avoid scrolling down on a digitized resume and who are too fast to put a resume in the “definitely not” pile (virtually of course).

Going off of what I prefer (and I am tempted to say that many recruiters are on my side here), if possible, applicants should stick to the one-pager. First of all, it shows that a candidate is capable of conveying info precisely and concisely. There is no need to pack every work experience, an entire life history and hundreds of publications in a resume. Cutting the resume down to match experiences to the job description makes it easier for a recruiter or a hiring manager to say yes. Reading one or two cutting-edge publications or groundbreaking experiences that are actually relevant for the job will be convincing that the person deserves an invitation for an interview. Everything else can be discussed then (and it will give you more things to talk about).

Sometimes for a candidate, this just doesn’t work without risking not getting the job. If a one page resume doesn’t provide enough substance, clarity or a well-rounded picture, candidates should be comfortable to exceed one page. Especially when the job involves special skills, I’d rather read two more pages than see a list of company names and job titles that would force me to call every single reference to find out more.

Reading resumes is a challenging task that ultimately decides not only the company’s future, but also the applicant’s. It is a skill that takes experience to become good at and it takes a lot of time and effort to interpret a resume in a valuable way.

As a recruiter or hiring manager, do you only look at one-pagers? What is your strategy to separate the wheat from the chaff? Comment, criticize and share your perspective!


Views: 1943

Comment by Angela R. Furbee on July 18, 2013 at 11:09am

Edward, you are so right! Employers should not put themselves in a position to have to review 250+ resumes.  We will identify and present a handful of qualified candidates in a timely manner.  Where did you see information on turnover costs in neighborhood of 5 trillion?  I'd like to share that with my clients.

Comment by David Perry on July 18, 2013 at 11:17am

As Michael says, "size is irrelevant". 

Size matters, but not the way most people think.  A 25 page resume that grabs my attention and never lets go... I will read.  Every word.  But let's be honest very few people are interesting enough or have enough accomplishments to warrant anything near 25 pages. 

But let's not cloud the issue with size. Instead let's focus on content and intent.  Intent comes first. 

A resume's initial sole purpose as a document - is to be read.  If it's not read, no mater the length, it was, it was a waste of time.  And by read I mean by a hiring manager or someone in a position to do something.

The major problem with most resumes, in my opinion, is that they are bland, boring, and banal.  If the goal is to get noticed and read AND called or invited in for a discussion - 99% of them fail to launch. 

I am a proponent of 1-page resumes.  I have been for years.  In my opinion a good 1 page resume grabs a readers attention, focuses on the 'value' they can bring to the reader [because they copiously researched the reader's needs and smacked them with a 2x4 of accomplishments and experience] and provokes the reader in to action. As Randall pointed out, a recruiter only needs 1-page AND often one sentence to decide they want to meet them. 

I believe a resume is a marketing document and it's only goal is to get the writer in front of the reader. 

Many people will disagree with me because a 1-pager doesn't give the recruiter enough information to 'judge' them adequately.  They want an opportunity to show the employer how they fit and that is best done face-to-face.    Here's a link to a book I wrote that covers the subject in more depth for anyone who may be interested:

thanks for the article Mona.

Comment by Edward N. Woycenko on July 18, 2013 at 11:39am


The $5T figure came out of the book called "Topgrading".  A consulting firm called Talentkeepers did the research. By the way, this $5T is annually.  Recent studies have shown that 80% of new hires do not meet the goals discussed during the interviewing process. In the corporate quest to save pennies, companies are tripping over thousands of dollars.

Comment by Mona Berberich on July 18, 2013 at 11:43am

@Edward: Great insights.Thanks for sharing. I'd love to hear more about the reasons why new hires do not meet the goals discussed during the interview process. Feel free to connect with me!

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on July 18, 2013 at 11:57am

Just popped on quickly as several comments included my name. I have no issue with anyone disagreeing with my point of view. Have at it. But, please don't attribute another person's comments to me.

I'm comfortable that my opinions and methods are based on sufficient comprehension of modern employment practices and continuous research and interaction with all parties involved. Won't describe specific techniques, but I do take it upon myself to remain intimately familiar with the hands-on aspects of job searching as well.

The majority 95%+ resumes I've written originated from referrals, recommendations and repeat clients. Again, I wasn't referring to to anything related to CVs - only traditional US business based resumes. That said, I've never met a resume that needed to exceed two pages, regardless of how much experience the person has. I've also had people with similar amounts of work experience as I have (plenty) or even more than that request one page resumes. In some cases that is appropriate and quite effective and in other cases, a second page makes more sense. All that really matters is that person being satisfied that the content accurately represents the career marketing message they can be proud to distribute - AND - they get invited to interviews. 

Obviously everyone has their own perspective and preferences on what type or length of resume "works" best. Personally, I wish articles like this would not be posted on RBC as they tend to become a distraction from core content that many visitors come to the site to find. 

~KB @TalentTalks 

Comment by Stephanie McDonald on July 18, 2013 at 4:37pm

First, haven't we gotten past this one page resume crap? UGH, I'm going to get a tattoo "your resume can be over one page!!!"  You have your proof, three pages of recruiters who disagree. Can we stop now? Entry level, fine. If you can fit your resume with 15 years of experience on one page, you won't get a job cause you haven't accomplished anything.

Second, Animal - <eyeroll> you just had to go there, huh?

Comment by Sandra McCartt on July 21, 2013 at 12:13pm

Stephanie, made me laugh.  Totally agree.  This was boring in 1976 so i wasn't going to post but your response begs for me to relate what i tell people who think they have to have a one page resume.  My response: "If you are comfortable using one piece of toilet paper, by all means use a one page resume."  "If not use enough paper to get the job done."

The first rule of advertising is to leave enough white space on the page that the readers eye is not overcome with too much information.  When i get a one page resume from an experienced person there is so much crammed on the page that it makes me tired to try and read it.  Write for the eye of the reader or go ahead and use one piece of toilet paper.

Comment by Jeanna Zivalich on July 21, 2013 at 5:48pm

Sandra, I always enjoy reading your posts. Always makes me chuckle. @Stephanie, how did your tattoo turn out? ;)

Comment by Ivaylo Chividzhiyan on July 21, 2013 at 10:45pm

Let me represent candidate's point of view particularly in the Yachting Industry where all recruiting agencies scream for 2 pages Max CV with all must-have info below as a minimum:

- head-and-shoulders photo,

- career goal,

- education and experience summary (like water crafts size sailed on and areas cruised),

- core competencies and extra yachting certification (all with expiry dates needed in view of long and distant assignments away from the shore issuing administration),

- it is a professional standard including in the seaman's CV header the present location, best contact points, nationality (in view of visa particulars), health, visible tattoos, valid USA/Shengen Visas with expiry dates and driver's license.

I need to mention that I have listed 23 certificates with their expiry dates (most of which names take almost the whole row). Then squeezing a brief summary of my professional achievements + professional references fills my first page keeping the font on the very limit for a good readability :)

Further to that I am 13 years sea-going experienced worked across 3 industries and in view of my career goal I emphasized on my yachting (last 5 years) experience down to duties and skills developed and shrunk in the end my first 5 years of my experience in the commercial fleet (in a way not much relevant to the yachting) comprising of 7 ships average 6 months each, in 3 lines !!!

Referees .... well couldn't ditch them into the indent spaces of pages No.1 and 2. They sit on the page No.3 and take just 1/3 of it (9 pcs with contact points). I wish I had a 3D paper type ... LoL

I seem to be a violator of that 2-pages-Max rule! Help!


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