The Dreaded One-Page Resume Rule

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You've probably heard it since you were in college, writing your first resume:

"A resume should be only one page. "

Nope. Wrong. Dead wrong.

Having said that, the one-page rule IS a good rule of thumb for most resumes. But once you've been working for a couple years or more, one page simply isn't enough to market yourself effectively. That's what your resume is supposed to be about.

If you're straight out of college and don't have lots of experience yet, stick to a page. If you're an experienced executive, one page is a joke. It's time for a new rule:

"Make your resume long enough to cover everything, but short enough to be interesting. "

This is a general rule for writing (it's called The Miniskirt Principle, actually), but it's particularly important for resumes. And here's a rule of thumb to go along with it:

"Limit yourself to two pages. . . unless you can't. "

For most people, even executives, I recommend you do your best to fit the goods on two pages. You might not be able to. Trying to, though, forces you to be as concise as you possibly can without sacrificing marketing effectiveness.

That resume austerity plan is based on simple resume economics. When it comes to resumes, each word costs something, and your budget is low. The people who look at your resume probably have to look at LOTS of them. If yours is too long, it costs too much time. So keep it as short as you can.

There's one exception. If limiting yourself to two pages will hurt your chances of getting an interview, add another page. But I'd be EXTREMELY wary of going beyond three pages.

Maybe there are some 70-year-old super-candidates that require more space than that, but very few. If you can't present a compelling picture of the targeted highlights of your career in three pages, you've moved beyond the targeted highlights.

The one-page rule is bunk, but I recommend following the two-page rule strictly.

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