Kawasaki's “1 Page Resume” Rule Revisited

What is the ultimate length for a resume? It depends. A one-page resume might be appropriate when you’re a junior candidate. But if you’re more experienced you’ll need several pages to show your stuff.

In my controversial blog, “My Take on Guy Kawasaki’s 1/2/3 Rule of Resume Writing,” I quoted Kawasaki’s resume rule #1:
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. (Ref.: Guy Kawasaki, Reality Check: The Irreverent Guide to Outsmarting, Outmanaging and Outmarketing Your Competition (Hardcover), page 327)
With great respect and admiration for Guy Kawasaki, I must admit that the last sentence in this quote is a tad harsh. The 1 page rule seems a tad unrealistic too. Well, maybe more than a tad.

When I was in my final year at Waterloo University I was advised to aim for a 1 page resume. That made sense at the beginning of my career. I landed a job with Quantum Technology Recruiting for my first post grad placement and the rest is history. But now that I’ve been in the industry for nearly 20 years would it be advantageous to squeeze my qualifications into a one page resume? Not likely.

Kawasaki was writing with Silicon Valley in mind. In my neck of the woods (Toronto, Canada) employers and recruiters expect see more detail than you can fit comfortably on one page. Still, I do prefer to read resume that doesn’t require me to dig deeper than a page or two to figure out if the person is qualified.

The power of Kawasaki one-page rule is that it reminds us that a resume is a sales document. Have respect for the reader. Be concise and focussed. Use active language and concrete examples to prove your qualifications. Put your human reader ahead of the resume parser algorithm that scans for keywords.

Maybe you can trick the parser into putting your resume at the top of the list by padding your resume with keywords. But when the recruiter sees that your entire first page consists of lists of keywords and no real experience some red flags will go up. Remember, it’s a human reader, not a computer, that decides whether the pick up the phone and give you a call.

Views: 236

Comment by Chris Brablc on April 13, 2010 at 10:11am
I totally agree with you, Tim especially that your resume is a sales document!

Length is not overall a concern if the quality of your experiences is great. The one lesson you can take from the 1 page rule is that you want to lead with your best. It's a great benefit to most to go through their resume and look to shorten it. This forces you to prioritize what experiences are important and what aren't and helps you tighten up your language. As you go forward, you'll start to think about if an extra line on your resume actually adds value.

Overall, quality is the goal in a resume, whatever length it is!
Comment by Tim Collins on April 13, 2010 at 2:57pm
Quality is the key as you say. I agree you must have the "hook" that is going to get the person interested in your profile on the first page. As most business writing courses will tell us less is better.

Thanks for the grreat comment
Comment by Martin H.Snyder on April 13, 2010 at 3:35pm
Can't fool the parser with just keywords (per se). Matching a job title or geography helps too.

Skill, Skill Level, Geo are still the lodestars of recruiting.
Comment by Tim Collins on April 13, 2010 at 4:01pm
must have the skills...one can write the great resume but people are not hiring great writers they want to see the skills. As I say"show me the real experience
Comment by Katherine Moody on April 14, 2010 at 11:52am
Great post about a question so many jobseekers have!

Length question notwithstanding, resume a) needs to support candidate's brand and b) isn't necessarily what gets you the job. Strategic and consistent networking can get the job and the resume is just the document that helps the hiring manager justify the decision already made. It's an important document, though at some point I'd rather see people networking than spending an hour to create yet another "customized for the job" resume.
Comment by Tim Collins on April 14, 2010 at 12:05pm
I couldn't agree more Katherine. I have been fortunate in that I have not had to use a resume for my last 4 jobs. they all came about from networking. In today's economy especially a person that attends networking events and gets to know people in their field at a networking event has a much better chance of getting an interview than sticking a resume into a massive applicant tracking system. I think people need to realize they may need to join associations and go to meetings on a regular basis. Networking is not a one time thing:)

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