At one time, the general rule was that résumés should be limited to one page only. Times have changed, however. These days, there is no hard and fast rule regarding the length of résumés, but there are some common-sense guidelines that job seekers should follow. If you are a recent graduate with little or no work experience, for example, your résumé should not exceed one page in length. If, however, you are a professional with ten years or more of work experience to account for, your résumé can easily extend to two pages and in some cases more. *Note that it is not necessary to have a detailed work history going back more than ten years. If you have been in the workforce for over ten years, use common sense and discretion to determine whether to include previous posts. If you do include them, company/organization name, your title, and dates of employment may be all that is necessary.
There are eight essential ingredients to include in your résumé:
1) Name and contact information
2) Summary/Profile/Objective (including this section at the outset gives you the opportunity to summarize your work history, position yourself as a certain kind of professional, or outline the parameters of your search)
3) Organization Names
4) Job Titles
6) Chronology (positions held should be organized in reverse chronological order with month/year included)
7) Education (include name of institution, degree earned, and date of graduation)
8) Skills (languages, computer programs, etc.)
If you have changed or are changing professions and your previous work history has little to do with the kind of work you are seeking now, take the time and effort necessary to identify transferable skills and include them in your résumé. Highlight these skills by listing them at the top of your responsibilities, and do not clutter the résumé with duties that are unrelated. You have to make it clear to the person reading the résumé that you are qualified for the job. *Note that a well-written cover letter can be a good supplement but will not be enough on its own. The case for your candidacy must be made in the résumé, or you will not pass initial screening.
A résumé is your opportunity to introduce yourself to a prospective employer. It is your first impression on paper and has the potential to earn or lose you an interview. Here is a list of some common mistakes along with notes about each critical error.
1) Typographical errors/general sloppiness. Whether you misspell a company name (it happens!) or have formatting inconsistencies throughout, a sloppy résumé signals a lack of attention to detail. Always proofread your résumé before you send it; better yet, ask a trusted advisor or friend to proofread it for you.
2) Providing old or otherwise incorrect contact information. This problem is obvious: it will be difficult to get in touch with you!
3) Failure to include titles or dates. Any vagueness on the résumé raises questions on the part of the employer. Is this candidate trying to hide a poor work history or lack of qualification for the position? Be as specific as possible to avoid the appearance of hidden flags.
4) Not enough information. Do include bullet points to explain responsibilities in previous posts, especially as they relate to the positions you are targeting. A résumé that is too general does nothing to help you stand out in a field of candidates.
5) Too much information. It is unnecessary to give a detailed work history of more than 10 years and may actually clutter the résumé. See related questions on length of résumé and changing professions.
There is no one recommended résumé style. The best strategy is to create a professional, clean résumé that is pleasing to the eye and has solid content. There are free templates available online, and you can also ask friends for copies of their résumés. Most important is to make sure your contact information is clear and easy to find and that the résumé looks business-professional.
Finding a new position is hard work. Generally speaking, you should receive one follow-up call or interview for every 10 résumés you submit. If you are not receiving any response, consider one of the following:
1) Your résumé does not provide enough detail regarding your experience.
2) You are applying for positions for which you are not qualified.
3) You are not being aggressive enough about submitting résumés.