Mark submitted a two-pronged question. We’ll answer the first part next time; but this part of the question is worthy of its own topic: I’ve worked many years in several positions and I know that it’s good to keep the résumé short to one page and to the last 5 years what should I do? Many of the jobs I’ve held have been 10+ years or more!
Oy, the dreaded moment when reality meets the rules. Guidelines are great, as we’re proponents of them ourselves, but they don’t lend themselves to all situations. For example, sometimes you shouldn’t wear a suit to an interview. You know, the exceptions to the rule.
Mark’s dilemma with his résumé is one many professionals face once they’ve gathered substantial experience over the course of their careers. In short, you can exceed the one-page rule. There are pros and cons to doing so, and I’ll break down each side:
When you should go beyond one page:
- The position demands a wide skill set.
If you’re applying for a position that requires a variety of experience and expertise in several fields, of course you want to include all relevant information. Don’t leave off important parts of your work history that could seal the deal just because you want to keep it to one page.
- You have the right experience.
I don’t care how important you think your childhood lemonade stand was, it doesn’t qualify as an entrepreneurial characteristic. If you’re going to make the hiring manager turn the page, make it worth his or her while. Your experience must be relevant to the position, not just any experience will do. If you’ve been in the work force for 20 years, your high school job is probably not worth mentioning. That means relevant experience that began 10 years ago is still worth mentioning. The rule with keeping experience only to the last five years is often to remind applicants to keep their information fresh and updated. Sometimes that works, but other times it’s worth expanding.
- Everything’s digital anyway.
This is a generalization, so keep that in mind: With so many employers only wanting online applications, concern about reading more than one page of writing isn’t as important. You just keep scrolling on an online application. The rules about relevant content don’t change, but the stigma toward turning the page is dwindling.
- Lengthy résumés are the norm for my industry.
I know people who have been in management and sales for decades and their résumés are two pages. On the other hand, I know people in education who have been working for a decade and have four pages. Their résumés, or more commonly CVs, tend to be longer for a number of reasons. It’s the industry norm and getting everything to one page would probably not be a good career move. Know your audience.
When you should keep it short:
- You’re just starting out.
I’m not saying young people don’t have experience, but most graduates straight out of college don’t have a strong enough work history to warrant two or three pages. At that age, the bulk of your résumé concerns your course work and maybe internships. It’s not uncommon for new graduates to have a tough time filling a full page.
- Most of the space is taken up by wide margins and borders.
You want to present yourself as a professional, not as someone trying to pad the page and force multiple pages. If you have colorful borders (BALLOONS! SOCCER BALLS!) and absurdly wide margins (like the one you used to meet the 5-page minimum on that history report), edit yourself. Get rid of the clutter and see how much actual content is left.
- The experience doesn’t match up.
This is the flip side to that second bullet point at the top of the page. Who cares about experience if it doesn’t have any relevant to the job posting? It’s great that you were a line cook, but it doesn’t have much to do with your desire to teach a communications class at a community college, does it? (If you can draw a compelling connection between the two, then be my guest.)
Don’t forget that there are also different types of résumés. You’re probably most familiar with the chronological type, which lists your experience from most recent to oldest. You can also use functional, which means you group experience by skill set rather than in a timeline.