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One Page Resume's Work! (IMO)

In a recent discussion, ( http://discuss.fogcreek.com/joelonsoftware/default.asp?cmd=show&ixPost=164045&ixReplies=24 ), 2-3 page resumes were advocated because people didn't think they could say everything on one page, or they were concerned that they couldn't describe their entire 20 years as a contractor on a single page without going to a 3 pt font.

I must view a resume differently, because I don't see it as technical specification. I just see it more as a marketing piece.

When I've been on the hiring side, and I've had to go through those multi-page resumes, it didn't bode well for the candidate. Most of them were an attempt to list EVERY FRIGGIN THING that person did. Boring and mostly irrelevent stuff. Ugh!

When I've got 25-50 resumes to choose from, if you can't capture my interest on the first page, you're sunk.

If you have a resume of two or more pages, IMO, you're not taking the time to tailor your resume to the job you're applying for. Do you really want this job or did you just SPAM your generic resume out to me.

If you catch my interest on a one page resume, and I want to know more about you, I guess I'll have to grant you an interview to tell me more about yourself. Goal of the resume accomplished, you get an interview.

If you send me a multi-page resume, and you catch my interest on the first page, I'll want to know more about you. Oh... there's 2 more pages to read... what else is here... an entire history of each project that they've worked on for the last 25 years... ugh...  Every language and OS they've "touched". Yawn... [interest generated on page one now waning a little as I'm bored with page 2 and 3] Gee, I feel like I know know the candidates entire history. Why bother with the interview. Probably just drone on about all of this all over again.

IMO, the goal of a resume isn't to exhaustively list your skills and detailed achievements. It's to "catch the eye" of the hiring manager and tweak their interest enough that they want to know more and bring you in for that face-to-face where you can do the real sales pitch of yourself.

One page should be enough for the resume. Then there's the cover letter that gives you another chance to catch their eye. (It should be minimal also).

It's worked for me. I've done very well with the one page resume. YMMV I guess.

Oh.  I chose to make this a new topic because if I tacked it onto the end of the last discussion, I figured most people wouldn't have read far enough to notice my reply.  ;-)

Mark S
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Yeah OK it probably depends.

There was one job I really wanted. I put together a two page resume targetted to them. I attached a 16 page cover letter to it describing in mind-numbing detail why they should hire me. The day after I sent it in the mail, I got a phone call from their vice president who said "We just got out of a meeting discussing the resume we sent and it is the most compelling thing we have ever read."

So, sure, a one pager works sometimes.

And other times a 18 pager works.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 18, 2004

did you take that job? how did that work out?

Prakash S
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Yeah, of course! I loved it it was great!
That's where I got my first experience designing chips. It was a blast. Fun people too, though some of them were kind of nuts.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Wow Dennis. 18 page cover letter!?!

You said that you "really wanted the job".

I'd make a guess that on the 1st page of your cover letter, you caught their attention with your enthusiasm, and the remaining 17 pages, you continued to do one hell of a sales pitch.

Congratulations!

I didn't mean to imply that the 1 page was the only way. It's worked well for me. It's what I'd rather see as a hiring manager, and the vast majority of 2-3 page resumes that I've seen were utter failures at catching my interest and didn't translate into interviews as well as the GOOD one-page resumes.

Mark S
Sunday, July 18, 2004

> I'd make a guess that on the 1st page of your cover letter, you caught their attention with your enthusiasm

Yes, absolutely. And put in a bit of weirdness to make sure they read the whole thing out of curiosity.

> and the remaining 1[5] pages, you continued to do one hell of a sales pitch.

You win the prize! That's absolutely correct. I haven't pulled the same stunt again, as that was a unique situation where I was absolutely perfect for that job and I was absolutely the person they were looking for even though they didn't realize it. I was actually rather bold in the body of the letter and covered a number of subjects including ones that had nothing to do with the job but did have to do with me as a weird character.

I guess thinking about it is that I didn't have anything to lose. I didn't have the job and if they ignored the letter I would be right where I was before. The advise I would give here is not to write a long letter but to be willing to take a dangerous risk if you feel inspired to do so.

Sometimes it pays off and again they key thing is 'what do I have to lose'. This advise to take a chance and not be afraid to be original also works in the romantic arena, for those of you out there who are still single.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Dennis, tell us more please. How are you a weird character?

Management material
Sunday, July 18, 2004

You must be new around here.

Dennis Atkins
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Sounds good to me. If you're afraid of what they'll think of you, they can smell it. So just be yourself & go for it.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, July 18, 2004

I've said it before and I'll say it again - the trouble with one page resumes is small font size. I've seen over three thousand resumes in the last four years and I hate the one page ones - the fonts go down to 9.5 and you have to squint.

Use 11pt for Arial or 12pt for Times New Roman (I prefer the latter but preferences seem to vary according to what side of the Atlantic you're on). Leave a little white space. Use bold and tables or tabs.

Everything else the OP says is correct though.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, July 18, 2004

The trouble is that getting past the HR drones and pleasing the hiring manager require two different optimal solutions but you only have one resume with which to do it.

HR drones play buzzword bingo, so the more you can list every project and technology you touched, the better your chances of getting past them.

Ideally the HR person would not be a drone; they would be well informed about the industry and would actually understand what they read on a resume and thus would not play buzzword bingo. But such HR people are few and far between.

T. Norman
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Can you post two resumes? A long and a short version?
- after all, 'there is more than one way to do things'

Michael Moser
Sunday, July 18, 2004

"If you have a resume of two or more pages, IMO, you're not taking the time to tailor your resume to the job you're applying for"

That's the reason I prefer one-page resumes. A three-page dump of everything the caodidate has ever done (even if it's one Stephen received that was crammed into one page by using tiny fonts) shows me that the candidate hasn't taken the time to do a little investigation and update the resume so it will jump out at the person screening it for that particular job.

And Dennis' the 18 page cover letter was the same idea, he didn't send it to every place he applied, just the one where the sales pitch would resonate.

Tom H
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Also remember when not to use a C.V. (or resume) ! Where I work all
applicants have to use a standard application form. It states clearly
that a C.V. should not be attached on any account. However the number
of applicants who attach a C.V. and have their applications discounted
because they can't follow instructions is something to behold.

ITECS
Sunday, July 18, 2004

[T. Norman] The trouble is that getting past the HR drones and pleasing the hiring manager require two different optimal solutions but you only have one resume with which to do it.

Why would you send your resume to an HR Drone? Why not do the research and find out who the person is that you need to get your resume to in the organization and go direct, with a resume that's tailored to that person. Sometimes HR Drones give the resume to the WRONG person in the organization and it quickly goes into the trash... lost opportunity.

Maybe I'm used to dealing with smaller, local companies. I guess in some instances, where you're relying on headhunters to do leg work, or your up against a larger corporate organization, that's a little more difficult (but not impossible).

I used to work for an 80,000 person corporation, but the local division was only 100 people. It would be very easy to call the main phone line, and ask the receptionist, "Can you tell me the name of the Software Development manager at your site?"

Better yet, if you're not shy, "I'd like to talk to the development manager at your site". Then introduce yourself, ask a few questions and tell them that you'd like to send your resume in...

Regarding small fonts on one pages resumes, that's just a degenerate form of the two page resume, IMHO. The point is, don't over-do the information in the resume.

Mark S
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Get a page of letter, allow 1.5 line spacing, columns (using tabs or tables) and 12pt Times New Roman font, and try and squeeze the resume into the number of lines required. Can't be done.

Stephen Jones
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Are there any guides to writing resumes for hard core technology people? Most book and resume examples are for generic office worker or sales positions.

What would REALLY help would be if some kind soul would post tutorial examples of resumes edited for application to specific jobs, with the resume presented side by side with the job ad, RFP or posted requirements. And specifically targeted for development positions.

The problem with generic advice in this domain is that it's, ahh, generic. IE: I had no clue how to pare down my hugely bloated resume to a reasonable (but still apparently bloated) size until a peer kindly explained exactly what I needed to do to create clusters of information and reduce redundancy.

Bored Bystander
Sunday, July 18, 2004

"Why would you send your resume to an HR Drone? Why not do the research and find out who the person is that you need to get your resume to in the organization and go direct, with a resume that's tailored to that person."

Does that actually work?  I've known of cases where a resume finds its way directly to a manager, and the manager directly sends it to HR upon seeing that it is a resume.  Management doesn't want to see it unless it comes from HR, or was referred by somebody they know.

Then again, that's probably not the type of company I'd want to work for.

T. Norman
Sunday, July 18, 2004

"Most of them were an attempt to list EVERY FRIGGIN THING that person did. Boring and mostly irrelevent stuff. Ugh!"

Yeah, that whole "experience" thing is *completely* overrated. Glad you don't like hearing about it.

In all seriousness, my resume is two pages - contact info, education (to pass the "must have a degree" hurdle), bullet points about experience (must... have... keywords...), then my experience, most recent on back. I make certain that my last three jobs are on the front page.

Therefore - one page that should give you enough for a go/no-go, and second page to show that my nine years of IT experience isn't one year nine times, and also why my six years on ships might just matter to you after all.

I guess I just hate absolutes. One page may work for some people, nineteen pages may work for others (though not as many). Keep it short, try to make sure the first page is a "grabber", and remember your resume is living on borrowed time when it's being read.

Philo

Philo
Sunday, July 18, 2004

I don't know what's wrong with a 1 page resume. If my resume was HTML it would look something like this:

<font size=3000>I ROCK!</font>

Well, that might be 2 or 3 pages after all.

The Adams books are filled with "real resumes & cover letters that got people jobs." Some of them have tech sections.

IMHO you can't give generic advice on writing resumes. On some level you either have the skills or you don't. On another, you just don't want your resume to look like everyone else's.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, July 18, 2004

Some people demand a one page resume. Some demand a detailed listing of one's experience and skills. The solution is obvious: buy a roll of fax paper and have one really huge resume on one sheet of paper.

Alternatively, accept that "I hire people and I won't give you an interview unless your resume fits this arbitrary critera" is not a good basis for another rewrite of your resume, particularly as the next manager along will have an entirely different set of prejudices.

Oh, and anyone who seriously says "I hire people and I'ld love to have 500 people call and ask what I want in a resume instead of just skimming through 500 resumes that may or may not fit my personal prejudices precisely" obviously has a weird view of management.

Some people insist on advising job seekers to personally call the senior person in charge of hiring and irritate them just to find out what their personal preferences are, but in the real world this is quickly going to stop being "an impressive display of initiative" and start being "a serious irritation leading to the phone being damaged beyond repair."

They've apparantly never considered adding the text "one page resumes only" to their job ad. I guess that's too complicated for them. At least then the problem would become "unable to follow simple instructions - no hire" instead of "not telepathic, and realised that I'm actually busy doing real work as well - no hire."

Here's some good advice, though: learn to tell the difference between useful advice and demands that the world caters to one person's personal preferences.

managers are all wonderful people
Sunday, July 18, 2004

> If you have a resume of two or more pages, IMO, you're not taking the time to tailor your resume to the job you're applying for

Correct. Either my experience fits or it does not. I'm not going to waste my time "massaging" the facts to suit you.


Monday, July 19, 2004

----"Correct. Either my experience fits or it does not. I'm not going to waste my time "massaging" the facts to suit you."-----

The whole point about tailoring your resume is so that you can make it clear to the hirer that your experience does fit.

Your way you are faced with two alternatives - either you make the resume too long, in which case it is probably junked before you get to the relevant part, or you run the risk that all the parts that fit aren't on the resume.

If you think presenting your case clearly to a hirer is a waste of time, then you deserve not to be hired, since you will probably think the same about presenting any work related matter.

Stephen Jones
Monday, July 19, 2004

> The whole point about tailoring your resume is so that you can make it clear to the hirer that your experience does fit

I'm aware of what the "point" is.

> Your way you are faced with two alternatives

Nope. My way there _is_ no alternative. Everybody gets the same "resume", I don't make it any shorter or longer or anything else.

> you run the risk that all the parts that fit aren't on the resume

If the experience is too "old" then it "falls off the end". If I haven't used some skill for ten years then I'm highly unlikely to apply for a job doing it. You would prefer that I highlight that experience? That would make it appear that the knowledge is current and would be dishonest.


Monday, July 19, 2004

So, what is the work of one page resume?

Seriously, one thing that will often sink your chances is using an apostrophe wrong in your resume or cover letter.

Ethan Herdrick
Monday, July 19, 2004

So, what is the work of _a_ one page resume?

Seriously, one thing that will often sink your chances is using an apostrophe _incorrectly_ in your resume or cover letter.

HTH
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

"apostrophe wrongly" would probably have been OK.

Ian
Tuesday, July 20, 2004

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