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Should I Follow the One-Page Rule on My Resume?

It’s the million dollar question: Should my resume fit on one page?

There’s no doubt about the benefits of a one-page resume. Your resume is prime real estate for showcasing your value and it’s key that you’re strategic in how you utilize it. In fact, we surveyed hiring experts and found that the typical resume is between 386 and 896 words long, with a median resume length of 578 words — which usually fits on a single page.

This isn’t about a rule that everyone has to follow because not every job candidate has the same experience — and every field has different requirements for how a candidate should present himself for a position. This is about the value of your resume and how to make it work for you in the best way.

If you follow the 6 Commandments of Resume Writing, then it’s likely that your resume will be able to fit on one page. If you’re planning on spilling over to a second page, be sure that it’s for important information that could, essentially, make or break your candidacy for the job. Is it because your formatting was off and it spilled over to a quarter of the page or do you have relevant accomplishments you need to highlight for the job?

Fran D’Ooge, president of the recruiting firm Tangent says that it’s now the ‘norm’ for applicants to exceed the one-page but that “the thrust of the one-page rule is still important, which is, keep it as short as humanly possible.”

So, what’s the answer? It differs for every candidate, but here are a few key rules:

  1. If you have less than 5 years of experience, your resume should be one page.
  2. If you are spilling over into the second page, and it’s more than half the page, fill out the white spaces to fill the second page. Give your accomplishments more room to breathe. Just don’t break any of the commandments.
  3. Make sure your name is on both pages of the resume and that the pages are numbered.
  4. Your resume should highlight your strengths. Your cover letter is where you elaborate — so don’t take up precious real estate on your resume with explanations.
  5. Don’t forget your audience.

What do you think? When should your resume spill beyond the first page?

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