What's the Right Size for a Resume?


Writing a winning resume is a lot like Goldilocks and the three bears. You have to try out a few before you find the one that's "just right."

Many recruiters complain that some resumes are too long. They find it difficult to sort through all the information, given the volume of resumes they receive on a daily basis. "By the time I get to the bottom of the first page, I should have a good feel for what a person has done," stated Joyce Heiss, director of human resources for the Sikich Group.

Even if you have several years of experience, it's best to condense your message down to two pages. Most recruiters agree that three or more pages are only acceptable if the person is at a senior executive level or if a candidate is heavily credentialed, like a scientist, writer or educator whose work has been published.

On the other hand, some candidates' resumes are too short. Seasoned workers who try to cram all their experience into one page often leave out vital information about what they've accomplished. Or worse, they use a tiny font, expanded margins and little white space. Not only are these resumes hard to read, they also show a lack of good judgment.

Most recruiters recommend using a common font like Arial, Times New Roman or Garamond in 10 to 12 point type. Side and bottom margins should be set at no less than one inch.

A one-page resume is best for someone at an entry level. If you are just beginning your career and have only held one or two positions, or if you've worked for one company for less than four years, it should be easy to construct a one-page resume.

Ideally, the first third of a resume should include enough information to give a recruiter a solid understanding of your most recent work experience. The second third should be a summary of all previous jobs. And the last third should provide information on education, accreditation, career-related memberships or recognition and any relevant volunteer work, such as serving on a board or committee for a business, non-profit or trade organization.

Most recruiters will agree that candidates shouldn't waste precious space to state "references available upon request." Recruiters know this already and don't expect to see references included in a resume. These will come later, after the candidate has made the first cut.

You should also keep hobbies and social activities off your resume. These take up valuable "selling" space and are generally not of interest to a recruiter. The only exception to this is if your outside activities are very closely related to the position for which you are applying. For example, if you are in the desk-top publishing field and you dabble in photography as a hobby, this might be relevant information for a job as a newsletter designer. Or, if you run marathons and are applying for a personal fitness coach, you may wish to include this at the end of the resume. But if your hobbies include canoeing, bicycling, water skiing and camping, share this with your friends, not a potential employer. One human resources executive recalled seeing a resume that had so many hobbies listed that she wondered when the candidate would ever have time to do his job!

And finally, unless you are applying for a job as a model or actor, keep personal information like height and weight off your resume. Recruiters are perplexed why some applicants include this type of personal information on resumes.

Next: Embellish Your Resume Without Lying >>

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