The Help Files’ November Special: Does (Resume) Size Matter?

Metre_pliant_500pxSize really doesn’t matter that much now. Or does it? When asked how long a man’s legs should be, President Abraham Lincoln now-famously replied: “Long enough to reach the ground.”

Lincoln’s homespun wisdom can be applied to many things, especially when shortened into something like, “Long enough.” Resume length seems worthy of much debate, as evidenced by how often I’ve seen the question raised. On one side, the argument goes that one page can’t possibly convey the depth of experience that someone 40+ might have to offer. Makes sense.

On the other side (the side I align with), you have the argument that a harried recruiter or hiring manager, will spend all of six seconds (yes, just SIX seconds!) skimming – not reading – your resume, and simply won’t proceed to any additional pages out of time constraints, if not sheer fatigue. Moreover, if a hiring man manager is going to spend six short seconds on your resume, and you offer her two pages, then the manager is going to spend only THREE short seconds glancing at each page. Not even Shakespeare could make an impression in three seconds.

So, just how long should YOUR resume be? Fear not, as  this edition of The Help Files will help you answer this age-old question.

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

Over at TheLadders.com, Marc Cenedella says your resume should be two pages at the most. In extreme cases, such as midlife career changes, you could go to three pages, but try to shave it down to two. He also gives advice on what text size and font you should use. I’m tempted to use a BILLBOARD SIZE font myself. Easier to see after a long day of staring into a computer screen. Just kidding!

How to Decide on Resume Length

Kim Isaacs, Resume Expert for Monster.com, offers a number of deciding factors, including the number of employers and your scope of accomplishments, that you should take into account when creating your resume. Refreshingly, Isaacs says you should use the length that works best for YOU.

How Long Is Too Long for a Résumé?

In the US News On Careers Blog, author Marcelle Yeager says your resume should be tailored for, well, YOU. She also offers her opinions on what sections you should include on your resume, what you should consider removing, and what you should reserve for LinkedIn.

How Long Should Your Resume Be?

This post on the Careerealism.com says you should stick to a one-page resume if you’re an entry-level job seeker. Makes sense. Take note, college grads. After gaining a decade or so of experience, you might think about expanding your resume to two pages to cover everything. Make sure you include enough information, but not too much.

How Many Pages Should Your Resume Be?

This post by Katharine Hansen, Ph.D., on QuintCareers says resume length should be dictated by an individual’s situation. New graduates should aim for one page, while those with more experience should stick to two pages.

15 Things That Make Your LinkedIn Profile and Resume Look Really Unprofessional

I’ve read so many conflicting pieces of advice on resume length, often from people in the same industry, that my head’s about to explode. Anyway, read this piece and pay special attention to #8 in the list. The argument is persuasive, in my opinion. If you have a different viewpoint, let me know in the comments.

And Just For Fun: James Bond’s Top Secret Resume

With “SPECTRE,” the new James Bond film, coming out this month, I thought it might be fun to show you the resume of the most famous famous, and least “secret,” secret agent of all time, 007 himself. If you know what SPECTRE stands for – NO GOOGLING ALLOWED – tell me in the comments.

Have some tips or tools to share with your fellow technical communicators, information developers, and content creators? Let’s network!  Drop me a note: HelpFiles@TechWhirl.com. Follow me on Twitter, connect with me on LinkedIn, circle me on Google+, or email me at craig.cardimon@gmail.com. I enjoy connecting with others in the industry.

Craig Cardimon

Craig Cardimon wears many hats and loves all of them -- technical communicator, content curator, and freelance copywriter. In his not-so-copious spare time, he reads, writes, runs on the local trail, and watches way too much "retro" TV.

Read more articles from Craig Cardimon