Guy Kawasaki's 1-2-3 Rule of Resumes

In Reality Check Guy Kawasaki urges people to "think of your resume as pitch for you, the product". Here's Kawasaki's 1-2-3 rule of resumes and my comments:
Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging, and Outmarketing Your Competition1 page long. When some job candidates read this, they will think, "Guy is referring to the hoi polloi and unwashed masses, not me. I have ten years of experience at four different companies covering five different positions. My resume needs to be two--maybe even three--pages to adequately explain the totality of my wonderfulness. And the more I mention, the more the company might see things that they like." As a rule of thumb, if you can't pitch your company or yourself in one page, your idea is stupid and you suck respectively.
When you apply to a job your resume is usually uploaded into an applicant tracking system. Most create a short list of candidates based on keywords. Ensure that your resume has the right keywords by including keywords from the job description. Keep your resume short but it's fine to have more than one page. Just make sure the first page of your resume is "eyeball" friendly in case an human being actually looks it.
2 key points. Your resume (and interview) should communicate only two perhaps three key points. Key points include pertinent work experience, applicable education, or a love for what the company does. One key point is too few, and three is on the edge of too much.
Employers also want to know about your accomplishments and results with previous employers. Include 3 to 4 bullets points of your results for each position.
3 sections. "Two key points" means that your resume should have only three sections: contact information, work experience, and educational background. This specifically excludes "objectives" (do you really think that a company cares what you want to be when you grow up?), "references upon request" (duh, of course you'll have to give references if you're asked), and "outside interests" (that Lamaze class training will come in really handy when he company stops delivering software by C-section, but not right now).
If you include an "objective" on your resume make sure it is the job you are applying for. Outside interests are valuable if it's volunteer work or if you were a semi-pro baseball player and the company has a softball team. Your outside interests are conversation starters and may provide a common ground between you and the interviewer and differeniate you from a candidate with similar qualifications.

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Comment by Geoff Peterson on April 7, 2010 at 10:01am
I like Guy's work - I read his blog and have his books, but disagree with anyone that says a resume has to be 1 page, no more. I actually get skeptical if you only have 1 page, thinking you either don't have enough experience or you have something to hide. My current resume is 3 pages long, and I had to work hard to get it to 3. It ain't bragging if you've done it! So put the details in there, because today, with applicant tracking systems and technology weeding you out based on key words, get your skills and experience in that document. Don't skimp on the details. Just know that a 12 page resume will most likely be ignored as no one wants to read a novel.
Comment by Chuck Summerland on April 7, 2010 at 10:05am
Hi Tim,

I agree with your comments. The 1 page long rule does not apply in many industries and if the individual is a contractor you will want to see the last 5 contracts they have been on and if they were successful projects.

For the 3 sections I highly disagree with this one. What about personality fit i.e. the company strongly supports charity and so does the candidate. How about personal development interests such as Toastmasters and other memberships.

I know Guy is a highly successful individual and I have never read Reality Check however I would be interested in learning how he qualifies applicants.
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 7, 2010 at 1:19pm
I disagree with the one page resume unless someone is a new grad. Every one of them with experience i have seen i have had to ask the candidate to redo. Too much information crammed on one page will not be read. If someone has had over three jobs in the past 15 years the only way to get it on one page is to do one of those horrible say nothing functional resumes. At least my clients want to know where your worked, your title and what you did at each job not a long flowery paragraph that does not qualify the experience as to the size of company and what the company does.

The best results i get are when a candidate has a brief summary of career experience at the top that is real stuff and not an objective. The only time an objective is germane is if there is a firm objective with the candidate unwilling to consider anything else. ie; Brain Surgeon with 12 years of experience looking for a position in Arizona only with opportunity to work with pediatric neurosurgery.
Comment by Tim Collins on April 7, 2010 at 2:12pm
Thanks for your comment.

A big key to any resume is readability. A resume that is in bold our without paragraphs is almost never considered. Talking about accomplishments and tangible achievements is key.

I would enjoy seeing how Guy screens resumes as well. Maybe we will have to ask him:)
Comment by PhSharon on April 7, 2010 at 3:20pm
The one page rule depends on industries and the number of years experience. A PHD can almost never have one page.. In DOD one page is unheard of and looks like you just got out of school. A sales professional can make it one page....Resume do not have objectives, it is now summary! The person that said I don't want to brag..You need to brag on what you did for that company and how you impacted the bottom line. It is confidence!:)
Comment by Tim Collins on April 7, 2010 at 3:54pm
Hi,

I agree completely that a resume is not the time to be modest. Your coments about the type of industry that you work within can really dictate the length of the resume.

Thanks for the comments
Comment by Randy Levinson on April 8, 2010 at 11:54am
What I know now is how to get my resume reviewed by Guy Kawasaki. I actually met him years ago when he spoke about the Ten Commandments of a start-up. I still quote some of that today. One of the things he said at that time is, "leadership is like climbing a mountain like Everest - the higher you get the thinner the air and the harder it is to maintain consciousness. That's why you always have to drive to be in touch with your base camp (the rank and file)." I think he is too high up the mountain on this one.

While our ATS parses resumes, I still look at the actual file for every candidate. I need to see the resume, what they did with their hands or how they utilized resources. That's what they believe I am looking at so I like to look at it. It's a way of treating the candidate like a person and not cattle.

So I'm calling #FAIL on Guy here, except in that case where he is the one you are sending your resume to.
Comment by Rosemarie Amodeo on April 8, 2010 at 12:07pm
A One page resume is nearly impossible for the talented enterprise software sales candidates we work with.
We (and our clients) need to know what they sold, their achievment against quota, who they sold to, and how they ranked with the rest of the sales team. Just listing that for 3/4 jobs takes more than one page
Comment by Tim Collins on April 8, 2010 at 12:22pm
I still look at every resume as well. When I am looking for somebody with deep experience, I would be disappointed if it were a one pager for a resume. As an agency we have a few clients that want a one page resume but the majority want to see all the experience.

I like a lot of what Guy Kawasaki has to say and respect his accomlishments but sometimes have to take some it with a grain of salt:)
Comment by Katherine Moody on April 8, 2010 at 7:10pm
Well the idea of a one-page resume clearly causes some lively discussion (and as a recruiter I have to say I would not be able to the executive searches I do with a one-page resume but that's just me). I think another value of this post is to re-examine some preconceived notions about resumes. Even if you come up with the answer you started with, it's a worthwhile trip.
Thank you!

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