Genesis of the 1-page resume
Back in 1960’s, 70’s, and 80’s, it was common to see one-page resumes. Candidates frequently were told something like, “if you can’t say it in one page, don’t bother.” What was the point? Could it be possible that people back then didn’t want to read anything lengthy? This is possible but not likely when compared with today.
No, in this era, hiring tended to be more about character and communications. Recruiters and companies wanted candidates to convey their essential qualities and experiences quickly and effectively. Of course, these experiences were important in determining which candidates to pursue. But the quality of a person’s character was highly valued. Who you knew and who vouched for you were critical, so listing all the great things you’ve ever done in a resume wasn’t as vital.
When did this change?
In the late 80’s and early 90’s, a shift in the hiring and recruitment landscape emerged. With the advent of technologies, many new types of jobs were created. In addition, the frequency of mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, bankruptcies, and layoffs coupled with an increased mobility of the workforce resulted in a large increase in job changes. To meet growing demand, companies had to increase the volume of candidates hired outside of the networking and referral channels that provided them with insight into the character of each person.
So the emphasis began to shift to longer resumes that contained more details about duties and achievements. As such, the ability to communicate the essentials in a one-page resume become more difficult, and longer resumes become the norm. Of course, exhaustive CVs were always out there, particularly in fields like medicine, R&D, and academia.
Who wants a one-page resume today?
The answer is that very few people (less than 3%) actually demand a resume of one page. So don’t get locked into that myth. However, don’t also get caught believing that this means you cannot have a one-page resume. The length of your resume should be dictated by the type of role and industry you want to pursue, the number of job entries you have, the quality of the content you need to convey, and your education, training, etc. That said, unless you’re in a credentials-based field like academia, I would recommend keeping the resume to three pages or less. But if you can effectively communicate your brand message, career highlights, education, and so forth in one page, great! Just don’t believe the lie that you have to or that you can’t.
How long is your resume?