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One page, two pages or four pages -- how long should your resume really be?

A one-size-fits-all resume will not work for all job applications. Don't go by social media posts to restrict your CV to merely one page if you have relevant skills and work milestones to highlight.

September 26, 2020 / 11:36 AM IST
(Image: Reuters)

(Image: Reuters)

A social media post on how one should not write their resume has gone viral. In the post, the author described how she had to go through over 20 resumes to shortlist just one candidate, highlighting that it is a bad practice to have a resume that exceeds one page.

The post triggered a series of debates among human resource practitioners on whether lengthy resumes could kill the chances of landing that dream job. The inference? Don’t fret if your resume does exceed one page. It does not need to be static either.

Depending on the stage in one’s career, the resume could be between one to three pages. Human resource consultants believe the ‘one-page resume’ mandate is no longer a reality.

In fact, trying to cut down too much on your work experience would mean a potential employer could miss out on relevant details that would aid their hiring decision. For instance, you may think that handling a data leak incident may not be important to be mentioned, but for a chief information security job, this will be a crucial detail that shouldn’t be left out.

Having said that, organising an office picnic or planning a colleague’s birthday party is not a skill that is particularly relevant in your resume. So, it is necessary that you pick and choose. Only core work-related skills must be mentioned in the CV, and of course awards/national recognitions.

This means you can skip listing football as a 'hobby' in your resume, but definitely mention it if you are a national-level football player.

Even if the resume extends to two or three pages because of work achievements, don’t worry. Hiring managers suggest a resume doesn't get ignored just because it is two or three pages long. A one-page does not offer any advantage over a two/three-pager CV.

The resume is a reflection of your career and work experience. If important work milestones are missed out, there are lesser chances of getting shortlisted. A good human resource manager looking for quality talent is not bothered by the number of pages on a CV.

However, do not stretch the resume to multiple pages in case you are a fresher or don’t have relevant work skills to portray. Keep it concise but relevant to the position.

For freshers, volunteering experience at recognised non-governmental organisations would count and should be mentioned in the resume. Companies look for well-rounded individuals. So, if you have worked for grassroots organisations in rural and semi-urban areas for at least six months, do mention it in your resume.

Another factor that is often ignored is the fact that the resume needs to be dynamic and be altered as per the job opening or the company. For instance, a marketing role in an insurance company would require a greater knowledge of the sector in past roles. Hence, it is necessary to highlight the relevant work milestones pertaining to this segment.

Similarly, the same position in an entertainment company would require a different personality and work culture knowledge. The same candidate would then require to tweak the CV accordingly to highlight relevant areas to this sector.

An allied point to remember is that the resume needs to be updated every year to add/remove details that may not be relevant in the employment market.  For instance, during the lockdown skills related to cyber risk and data security are of key focus for recruiters. Candidates proficient in these skills must mention these in the resume while applying for related jobs.

The bottom line is simple. Do not rely on viral social media posts for tips on creating a resume. Each job role is different and a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach will not work. The best solution would be to either contact the HR manager of the firm you are applying to or talk to current employees to find out what are the work skills that the organisation is looking for. That way you can frame/tweak your resume accordingly.

M Saraswathy
M Saraswathy
first published: Sep 26, 2020 11:09 am