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:
1 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.