Your one-page resume may be killing your job search

Artificial intelligence is transforming the world; is it also coming for your job?

Job-seekers are used to hearing the same advice, on repeat: Always send a thank-you. Don't lie on your resume. Oh, and that resume -- make sure it's no longer than one page.

Except … that last one might not be so true anymore. As more and more hiring is done online, the one-page rule seems to be going out the window, according to hiring managers and several surveys.

"Anyone can dash off a single-page resume," said recruiter Donna Svei. "A one-page resume didn't have the information that I wanted, and it made me feel like the person who sent it didn't want to make much of an effort to apply for the job."  

Longer resumes are a given for executive-level searches, which are Svei's specialty: It's hard to fit decades of experience into a single page. But they're increasingly common for middle- and entry-level jobs, too.

A survey from staffing firm Accountemps last year asked managers what the ideal resume was for a staff-level hire. Nearly the same portion of respondents said two pages was ideal as chose one page: 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Twenty years ago, respondents preferred one-pagers by a three-to-one margin.

ResumeGo, a resume writing company, recently ran an online simulation of a hiring process among 482 hiring professionals. It found that hiring managers chose two-page resumes at twice the rate of one-page resumes -- for entry-level as well as experienced hires.

A sample one-page resume from ResumeGo's experiment ResumeGo
A sample two-page resume from ResumeGo's survey. The 482 participants in the survey chose two-page resumes at more than twice the rate of one-page resumes. ResumeGo

Tech recruiter Brianna Rooney almost never receives a single-page resume these days, she told CBS MoneyWatch, and when she does, she goes back to the candidate to ask for more.

"I've had companies pass on people because there's no detail. To them, they're thinking, there's no detail, therefore there's no passion," Rooney said.

More detail is required because the hiring process now involves many entities -- a computerized application system, staff and external recruiters, and one or more screeners in HR, in addition to the actual hiring manager, Rooney explained.

Applicants could once omit basic job descriptions since that would be familiar to an industry-savvy resume reviewer, but they now need to write for a more general audience, which usually requires more words and more space.

"People need to realize that they're no longer writing their resumes for their hiring manager. There needs to be a balance between high-level and low-level writing, and I just don't think you can do that in less than two pages," said Rooney.

For workers in a specialized field like health care or technology, education and technical knowledge alone can take an entire page. In IT, resumes can stretch even longer than two pages.

The use of applicant-tracking software, which evaluates resumes and scores them according to how frequently certain keywords appear, has added another incentive for length.

"These technologies are actually ranking you, so if you don't have the appropriate information in your resume, it's ranking you lower," said Brandon Seigel, a recruiter who runs the consulting company Wellness Works Management Partner and regularly gives presentations to medical schools on resumes.

Seigel estimates that 70 percent of the hires he recommends have two-page resumes, and he has a simple explanation: Most people aren't good enough writers to handle a one-pager well. More often than not, a single page shortchanges the candidate.

A sample two-page resume Brandon Seigel uses in presentations Brandon Seigel

Seigel does have some examples of effective single-page resumes. But when he shares them with candidates, he said he often gets pushback. "Seventy-five percent of the time people say, 'It's a menu.' It doesn't feel like a resume," he said. "Some people like it, because they see the creativity of it. But it's polarizing."

A one-page resume that gets strong reactions from job candidates Brandon Seigel

But while the resume of two pages (or more) may be rising, the one-pager isn't yet dead. People with less than five years' work history never need a second page, recruiters agree (though some extend the limit to 10 years' work history). And no matter how long the resume, be careful with extraneous information. Introductory "objective statements" and extensive volunteer experience usually do more harm than good, as can excessive personal information.

"Be economical with your words, and resist the urge to overshare," advised Yasmin Sahami, senior talent acquisition manager at the hiring marketplace ZipRecruiter. "Your recruiter doesn't need to know how many kids you have."


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