Does your résumé have to fit on a single page? Roger Ebert has the answer.

Every time I speak to a group of people, and people talk to me afterwards, the topic of résumés always comes up. And every time people ask about résumés, someone always asks “Does my résumé have to only be one page?”

Your résumé does not have to be limited to only one page. It just needs to have nothing irrelevant and uninteresting in it.

I refer to film critic Roger Ebert‘s rule about how long a movie should be:

“No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough.”

You should apply the same rule to your résumé.

As long as what’s in your résumé is relevant to the reader, and the reader finds it interesting and it helps show how you’ll be a valuable addition to the hiring manager’s team, you can put in whatever you want, and your resume can be as long as you need it to be.

This means that when you apply for a job as a network engineer, you don’t bother mentioning your job at a pet store back in college, unless it somehow relates to the job for which you’re applying. If the job for which you’re applying is at PetSmart corporate headquarters, then by all means, include it.

Is anyone reading your résumé going to care about your “hobbies and interests”? Probably not. I guarantee they won’t if your hobbies and interests are “music and reading.” On the other hand, if you’re looking to do web development for Guitar Center and you play an instrument, then definitely put that in your résumé, perhaps even in your professional summary.

This also means that you have to tailor every résumé you send out. You have to go through every line and think “Will someone reading this résumé care about this?” You have to figure out if some bullets in your work experience should be expanded.

From today forward, don’t ask “Is my résumé too long”. Instead, inspect every word to see if it is of interest to the reader.

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3 Responses to “Does your résumé have to fit on a single page? Roger Ebert has the answer.”

  1. Tweets that mention Tech Work Love » Blog Archive » Does your resume have to be one page? Roger Ebert has the answer. -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Lester, Gaurav Vaidya and Cade Roux, Andy Lester. Andy Lester said: Does your resume have to fit on a single page? Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) has the the answer. http://xrl.us/bh6gyk […]

  2. HR Uncovered Says:

    Really good advice. When seeking resume writing advice, one so often sees things like “a resume MUST be just one page” and “a resume should ALWAYS be two pages.” Your correct that a resume needs to be long enough to communicate your key strengths and achievements, and as short as it can be without compromising your information.

    This is not the kind of answer that makes it easy for people who are struggling with writing their own resumes, but it is absolutely the truth.

  3. Piddles Says:

    Should I change my resume to a different format than the traditional chronological style? I have 25 years experience doing mostly contracting and consulting. Mine is 9 pages long.

    Sometimes I am tempted to make it half a page with the headline, “Walks on Water!”

    Jokes aside, most of my gigs are by word of mouth but still people want to see a resume.

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