do not cheat the one-page resume rule by using a tiny font and tiny margins

If you’re early in your career, you’ve probably heard that your resume should only be one page. And perhaps you’ve tried to wiggle your way around that rule by using a tiny font and non-existent margins so that you can cram more text into one page.

If you’re done this, you’re violating the rule in spirit and probably making your resume less effective.

(Before I go any further, let me clearly note that if you’re at least midway into your career, the one-page resume rule doesn’t apply to you. You get a second page at that point. But if you’re only a few years out of school, you do indeed need to stick to one page.)

Anyway, if you’re trying to keep your resume to one page, you can’t do it by shrinking your font to the point that only people with a monocle can read it or by adjusting your margins so that there’s hardly any white space on the top, bottom, and sides of the page. If you do things like that in an attempt to cheat your way into more space, (a) it will be totally obvious what you are doing, and (b) you’ll be doing it at the expense of how easy it is for a hiring manager to read.

And you really, really want it to be easy for a hiring manager to read. Small, crowded text with no white space is hard to read and even harder to scan, which means that hiring managers’ eyes are likely to glaze over when they turn to your resume, which is the exact opposite of what you want. (And some hiring managers won’t bother to endure the eye strain and will just go on to the next resume in their stack.)

Plus, the one-page resume rule for early-career people is there for a reason. It’s telling you what the appropriate amount of information for your resume is when you’re only a few years out of school: the amount that fits on a single page with normal margins. When you try to circumvent that with margin and font shenanigans, you end up looking like someone who can’t or won’t edit.

There are exceptions to every rule, of course — but far more people think they’re the exception to this than who actually are. If your experience is limited, you’re better off being brutal about sticking to one page — with reasonable margins and a legible font size.

What that means in practical terms: Your margins should be at least one inch on all four sides. You can probably get away with going down to half an inch on the top and bottom if you absolutely must, but no smaller. Font size depends on the font, but in most cases anything smaller than 11 point risks being tough for some people to read, especially if they’re older. And line spaces are not your enemy.

And yes, that might mean you have to pare things down. Consider what you really want the hiring manager to know and focus there.

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Snarkus Aurelius*

    My ex was the type of person who knew what he knew and didn’t want to be told any differently.  He -insisted- that his resume had to stay on a single sheet of paper because one time somebody somewhere told him that.  This guy was almost 30, had a JD, and about five years of professional experience yet he insisted on keeping all of his college activities on there.

    His resume had 0.25 margins all around with size 8 font.  The first time I saw it, I asked him why he wanted to ruin my eyesight so much.

    On a related note, the only interview and job that guy ever got was working for a law firm that advertised on late night TV and had a joke of a reputation.

    But, you know, I didn’t know what I was talking about.

    1. Mr. Mike*

      You should see what a very large and well known aerospace company requires…. 10 pt font, .03 margins all around, Calibri style, and very few headings….

  2. ThursdaysGeek*

    That’s related to how I check a dead-tree book to see if I want to read it: I quickly flip the pages and just get a feel for the white space to text ratio and shape. I can tell if a book is something I will enjoy reading with that quick check.

    If I were to see a resume that was filled tightly with text, I probably wouldn’t even scan it. It’s already someone who doesn’t understand how to prioritize, how to make writing (their experience) interesting or applicable, there are better options in the stack of resumes so no need to waste time on this one.

    1. Elysian*

      I think I’m currently 11 Times New Roman with .5″ margins. I think it used to be 10.5 TNR… I’m just awful. But there’s a lot of white space with bullet points and stuff!

      1. Elysian*

        Ooo I went and double-checked and I was wrong! It’s in Arial 11. Totally respectable. I do think it used to by 10.5 TNR though until someone told me that was unacceptable. I forget who told me that… bless that person, though.

        1. Emily, admin extraordinaire*

          Arial takes up more space than other sans serif fonts. If you find yourself running out of room, try switching to Helvetica or Tahoma or even the dreaded Calibri. Much smaller fonts for the point size.

          1. Jack the treacle eater*

            That’s the wrong way of looking at it. You’re trying to make things readily legible, not stick rigidly to an 11 point font.

            Depending on the font, you might be anywhere between 10 and 12 point for roughly the same letter height. Pick point size for readability with your chosen font, don’t pick the font to make you text smaller (and potentially less readable).

            The exception might be a font which is very wide as well as high, in which case you will get less on the page; but with a large font you can go a point size or two down and still keep it readable.

    2. Nikki T*

      I double-checked my font size in a near panic. I *JUST* applied for a job… 11pt, whew. The font size on my monitor is just (annoyingly) tiny…

      1. Natasha*

        Hey Nikki T,
        You can change your computer settings, just google your OS + increase font size. I had to do this on my work computer to avoid strain.

    3. Artemesia*

      Eyesight gets worse as one ages. Tiny print is likely to totally put off someone wading through a bunch of resumes.

  3. Blossom*

    I know Alison’s advice is US based, but I thought I may as well throw in for my fellow UK readers that I don’t think this is really a thing on our side of the pond. I mean, I don’t think mine was much over one page when I was straight out of uni, but I would have felt like just one side of A4 was weirdly short. Or do other UK readers disagree?

    1. UK reader*

      I agree with that. I think UK CVs and USA resumes have different expectations held to them and that previous jobs need a bit more beef on them in a CV vs a resume!

      1. Blossom*

        It’s interesting, because my impression is that the same principles apply, e.g. being concise. I would generally follow Alison’s résumé advice for my CV and normally consider the two terms interchangeable. It’s just this one page rule that’s foreign to me.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          In the US, CVs are used in academia, and the one-page rule does not apply. However, you are still expected to be concise. (There’s just a lot more information that’s supposed to be included.)

          1. Blossom*

            Yep, but I gather that the CV of American academia is different to the CV of British everyday job applications. They just confusingly share a name. ( I actually have no idea what British academics call theirs, come to think of it!)
            (p.s. Is your username a JA reference… Has the pig got into the garden again? ;) )

            1. Charlotte Collins*

              It does make one wonder if they’re all called the same thing, but I have the impression that the UK version has elements of both – not as long as a US CV, but more complete than a US resume.

              (Yes, the name is a JA reference. You have to admit that Charlotte would have been an effective manager – look at how she managed Mr. Collins!)

            2. Claire (Scotland)*

              UK academics still call it a CV, in my experience. But like the US version it is typically longer – the two page maximum doesn’t apply. My best friend works in a university lab, has a PhD in biochem, and her CV (eight years after receiving her PhD) is five pages long.

    2. IrishGirl*

      I’d agree with this (coming from ROI) – once someone has graduated from uni I’d expect to see a 2 page CV.

    3. Claire (Scotland)*

      I think that’s pretty true. The advice I’ve seen before is “no more than two pages”. Being concise and clear is still important, but there is definitely a feeling that a single side of A4 is weirdly short.

      1. misspiggy*

        Yes, particularly as early-career people in the UK are expected to put post-16 education and professional training accomplishments on their CVs.

    4. Fried Eggs*

      As an American living in Germany, I have a one-page resume I use for American stuff and a two-page CV I use here. I’m a recent grad from an MA program.

      I have to say that once I tailor each to a specific position, I think my resume sells me better than my Lebenslauf, where I feel like there’s a expectation to put everything remotely career related I’ve ever done (admittedly I cut a lot out anyway). The most relevant experience gets buried, despite my efforts to highlight it.

    5. The RO-Cat*

      My experience (Romania) is quite similar: you’re supposed to list *everything* in the CV (in some sort of chronological order – direct or reverse, I’ve seen both). More, no stint can be absent – not listing a job can be construed as lying (except maybe for very short ones, 2 – 3 months, especially if those were under the table). You can list, for the non-relevant jobs, only the title, period and employer, but you have to expand it for the rest. I’ve seen 3- or 4-pages CVs of people with 10 years or less in the workforce – and I’ve had to read it all.

    6. Mittens*

      Agreed, it’s not a thing in many European countries – in fact, I don’t know of any European country where a graduate can’t have a 2 page resume.

    7. Short and Stout*

      Disagree. With the exception of acadmeic CVs … but academia is weird and always the exception.

      Advice from UK uni careers services *does* tend to suggest that two pages is normal as a receny grad but the examples I see like this are not good.

      I used — and was praised for using by interviewers — a one page highly tailored CV.

  4. BRR*

    I always find it funny that in school I tried to making everything longer and now I try to make everything shorter.

    Keep in mind that a resume is an example of how you convey information.

      1. Big10Professor*

        I expect my students to submit all written work in a single page, because they need to practice in school how they should be writing in the business world.

        1. BRR*

          There should be more professors like you. My husband hopes to be a professor as well as had his own classes as part of his assistantship in the humanities and I frequently tell him he’s training students wrong.

        2. Honeybee*

          I was planning on being a professor for some time and I vowed that my introductory classes would all have shorter writing requirements. I’d save the long literature reviews and papers for the upper-level classes where the students were majors and potentially needed to know this skill in order to do well on the graduate level and in academia, but remember to recognize that the majority of students taking intro psychology are 1) not going to major in it 2) not going to become professors and 3) are probably just trying to satisfy a GE requirement.

        3. AnonAnalyst*

          This was hugely helpful for me when I was in business school. I still have a tendency to give too much information in my written communications, but having the strict page limit for my assignments in that program made me much better at paring back and making the key points more easily digestible.

          And yeah, I partially blame the “must be at least” page counts for assignments when I was in undergrad, because seriously, I often got to about half the number of required pages and had said everything that needed to be said. So all that trained me to do was go back and repeat my point in multiple ways, and add in extraneous detail.

        4. Artemesia*

          I did that as well. when I taught policy I required very short ‘briefing memos’ in which in two pages they had to bring a twit up to speed on an issue with a reverse funnel and clear bullets for supporting info.

          And for doctoral students, I would not speak to them about a dissertation topic until they had written ONE page which stated the question they were trying to answer, how they thought they would go about this empirically and why anyone should care. If you can’t do that, then you don’t have a clear enough idea to even gather feedback.

          Less is more. (and no adjectives.)

        5. Kathryn T.*

          I joke sometimes that the most valuable thing I learned in high school was how to write a cogent, coherent five paragraph essay in 20 minutes. I learned it in a class (US History AP) in which I got a totally legitimate C (and a 3 on the AP test, so, yep), and I use it all the time — it’s the basis of almost every information-transmission-type email I write. I have a stripped down version that’s only five sentences long that I use a lot too.

          I wish more people entered the working world with a solid understanding of how to communicate in writing, because now that we all use email, it’s a pretty vigorously critical skill.

            1. Kathryn T.*

              YES! That is such an important skill, for EVERYBODY. It makes me so sad that teaching about it appears to be restricted to AP liberal arts classes.

        6. Charityb*

          Great policy!

          The truth is concise writing is more difficult than verbose writing. We usually think the opposite, but the truth is that it takes judgment and precision to pare down everything we have to say into what the other person needs to hear.

          I can’t figure out who said this quote about speechwriting but I think it’s applicable to all writing:

          “A member of the Cabinet congratulated Wilson on introducing the vogue of short speeches and asked him about the time it took him to prepare his speeches. He said: “It depends. If I am to speak ten minutes, I need a week for preparation; if fifteen minutes, three days; if half an hour, two days; if an hour, I am ready now.”

            1. Charityb*

              I thought so too but I tried googling it and it was attributed to pretty much every famous orator in the past 150 years. For all I know it was around before Churchill was born.

    1. SevenSixOne*

      I think this is why so many young people struggle with being concise on resumes and cover letters– we spend a decade or more bloating our school essays and papers to meet a minimum word/page count, and it’s a hard habit to break!

      1. Anx*

        This is so strange to me. I remember most assignments had an upper limit for page numbers as well. I can’t remember ever struggling to hit the minimum, but spent a lot of time trying for find alternative block quotes that were shorter for my quotes.

        I do struggle with brevity though, moreso as a reader than a writer. I’d much rather read a 2 page resume with a lot of formatting cues than a 1 page one or a 5 page paper with smooth transitions and colorful language than a 3 page paper without much of a voice, because there more is less (it reads faster) to me.

    2. Afiendishingy*

      So true. I went to a liberal arts college and took lots of social science and humanities courses and wrote a lot of 10+ page (three of them were around 30 pages each) papers. I graduated 9 years ago but I’m still too wordy.

    3. CV*

      I had a prof whose directions for assignments were “I just want a nice little essay”. And requests for clarification were met with “I just want a nice little essay”. Stressful at the time, but afterwards it was nice to just say what needed to be said and not have to mess around with meeting word requirements! (and I got an A!)

  5. Meg Murry*

    Yes, I used to commit this sin. I used a small-ish font, and kept cutting my margins little by little. I also did things like only having a 4pt break between sections (1/2 a line) instead of a full blank line. And I used the “full justified” option on Word, and a font that was pretty but not super easy to scan quickly.

    What resulted was basically a giant wall of text, with almost no white space. And now, having paid attention in interviews, I notice that a lot of interviewers tend to make notes or highlights in the margins of resumes – which they can’t do if you have no white space.

    My resume now is 2 pages (because I actually have 2 pages worth of work experience), but its also in a standard font, with normal (1 inch) margins, no more full justification and appropriate line breaks. It’s not as pretty at first glance, but it’s so much better overall.

    The only thing I can add is that a lot of the older resume templates that came with previous versions of Word, etc had your name absolutely giant, and that plus your address could easily take up 1/4 of the page real estate. There is no need for your name to be 27 times larger than the rest of the text – you can cut that down and gain a line or two of space there.

    1. OhNo*

      This is very true. I’ve seen quite a few resumes (from friends and classmates, mostly) where their name is absolutely giant compared to the rest of their text. That’s really not necessary, and it takes up space that would be better employed making the rest of your resume a readable size.

      Why is that such a thing, anyway? Is it some kind of “trick” to get the hiring manager to remember your name, or do people legitimately think it looks good?

      1. Blossom*

        I do this. Well, not “giant”, but probably what the Word templates give you. I just think it looks better and clearer. It’s not meant as a nefarious trick. I know when I’ve been recruiting, I’ve appreciated CVs (aka resumes) with a spacious layout and clear headings.
        But then, I live in a country where 2-3 pages are the norm, and I’ve never heard of anyone trying to cram it all onto one page just for the sake of it.

        1. Charlotte Collins*

          I think the name in large font has to do with when all resumes were hard copy. It makes it easier for the employer to find the resume when leafing through a pile if the name is clearly and obviously listed. As someone whose name IRL is only 9 letters long (first and last), I’ve always felt for the people who had to cram really long names onto their resume…. On the other hand, I feel my first name sounds like my parents thought I’d stay a 5YO girl forever, so I lose out on professionalism to all those Elizabeths and Cassandras.

      2. Liza*

        I do that (have my name bigger on my resume) and now that you ask, I’m not really sure why. I do like how it looks, though. And I have it beside my contact info rather than on top of it, so it doesn’t take up much room. (I had to fight so much with Word to get it nicely side by side!)

      1. College Career Counselor*

        In my opinion, it’s okay to have your name larger for a little bit of visual emphasis. But you don’t need to go CARTOONISHLY larger. If you’re working in TNR 11pt, I wouldn’t take it up past 16pt. type. While I’m opining on resumes, people should pick a font they like and stick with it. Don’t use Garamond for your name, Arial for your contact info, Helvetica for your section headings, etc.

        1. Meg Murry*

          Yes, this is what I meant. The largest thing on the page? Yes, absolutely, go for it. Size 36? No.

          I also prefer the newer templates that put your address, phone number and email all on 1 or 2 lines – there is no need for that to take up 4 lines under your name, especially since most people are not going to use your street address for anything except a thanks but no thanks letter. Or like Liza suggested, name next to contact info so it doesn’t take up as much room.

          But I am also +1 ing the comment about varying fonts. I don’t know why Word started doing a thing where it used different fonts for headers than for body text, but don’t do that, it’s annoying. Pick a font and go with it.

  6. Elizabeth the Ginger*

    I feel like the people doing this were the same ones who would turn in essays in high school in Verdana font, size 14, with 2.2-line spacing, extra-wide margins, and a big 36-point title at the top. “What? You said three pages, and this is three pages!”

      1. LQ*

        Hm. I think people who want essays of a certain length should reconsider why they want length over conciseness. Focus on making sure that someone met all the requirements of the assignment. (It’s much more real world friendly that way.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I can’t help but think of the Harry Potter books, where they get essays literally assigned by length because they’re on parchment scrolls. Hence all the moaning about Snape wants a foot on the properties of wolfsbane by Tuesday, and McGonagall wants eighteen inches on the use of nonverbal spells in Transfiguration by Wednesday morning! etc. etc.

    1. the gold digger*

      I bought a typewriter before I started college and realized once I was there that I had made a huge mistake getting ten point font instead of 12 point. Not a good move for an English major where the page length was dictated for our assignments.

  7. F.*

    If I cannot print the resume because the margins are too small, I wont even bother to look at it. My “middle-aged” eyes require at least 12 pt. type size and a clear font.

    1. Meg Murry*

      Yes. Some printers won’t take margins less than something like 0.7″ – if the first impression the hiring manager gets of your resume is the error message saying the margins are too small, that’s not a good first impression.

        1. misspiggy*

          (apologies for OT) It’s probably a box or graphic edging over the margin somewhere in the document. Sometimes if you just choose a different positioning option for those stupid Word text boxes the message goes away.

  8. CaliCali*

    I remember once working on a proposal where the guideline from the customer was that you had a page limit on the executive summary, and a specified 12-pt font size for text, with a 10-pt size for tables. The geniuses thought that they’d be wily and they put all of the executive summary within a table. The customer actually sent it BACK, not outright disqualifying them because they did follow the rule, but they said that it was not acceptable to put a whole section within a table to get away with smaller font. It left a bad taste in their mouth, for sure.

    It’s one of those things where someone thinks that following the letter of the law will get them a pass on following the intent. It ends up achieving the exact opposite — someone sees that you’re trying to circumvent the rules for your own purposes, and comes away with the negative impression you were trying to avoid with a two-page resume.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      This happens in legal briefs. Courts place limits on pages or word counts for briefs, but there are usually exceptions for footnotes (sometimes it’s just that footnotes can be single-spaced). Occasionally, a lawyer will get cute and try to submit a brief that is mostly footnotes. Judges do not like this.

      1. DLW*

        I’m a law clerk for a judge and we actually had to change our standing order to specify required font and type size, margins and double spacing. The change was made after getting one too many briefs using microscopic print, tiny margins and one and a half spacing (like I wouldn’t notice). Don’t try to play games with the court. Because the court will not be pleased.

        As to footnotes, there’s a great snarky remark in a federal case that I love to quote: “Judges are not like pigs, hunting for truffles buried in briefs.”

    2. Kyrielle*

      It’s arguably worse, because this “rule” is generally applicable but not everyone worries about it. It’s entirely possible that a hiring manager who wouldn’t have cared if a recent college grad had two pages instead of one *will* care if they have one page that cannot be read easily.

      In general, it should be one page because many HMs will care. (Probably most, but I’m not sure.) But if you can’t bear to trim anything, IMO you are better off with two pages than a teeny tiny font. (Better still to have one page with a normal font size, but of the two, making the whole thing unreadable is the bigger issue, IMO.)

    3. Charityb*

      I’ve always wondered why people think that works. I mean, this is the equivalent of grabbing someone’s hand and slapping them across the face with it, then trying to argue that they can’t get mad because technically you hit *yourself*. Even if technicalities were valid arguments anywhere, you’re still pissing off someone whose approval and support you need to succeed.

      It’d be one thing if the extra space was being used for great content, but how often is it really? How often is it instead overly wordy and muddled descriptions of routine aspects of entry-level jobs? If you need more space, first change from passive to active voice — that’ll save about three words per line. Trim the weird descriptions of jobs like “cashier” and “shelf stocker” that make them sound like F500 executive positions.

      Some people really do need more space, but many don’t; they just need to edit what they have to make it fit.

  9. KT*

    Can we also stop with the elaborately designed, Pinterest-esque resumes? Unless you are a graphic designer (and event hen, maybe just a custom “logo”), it just looks ridiculous. I’ve had so many resumes come by so full of pink and chevrons and crazy swirls that I never even bothered reading them, I just assumed they were oversized baby shower announcements.

    1. Turanga Leela*

      I don’t mind these in theory, but they seem to discourage people from tailoring their resume to the job description (presumably because they’d have to pay the graphic designer to re-do the resume for every application). The pretty resume doesn’t help when it doesn’t fit the job requirements.

      1. NickelandDime*

        This is why I’ve always shied away from getting my resume “designed.” I look at mine every six months and I almost always have some things to add or remove. A new accomplishment, updated numbers, something.

      2. KT*

        And keep in mind some systems remove all “designy” aspects (even bolded or underlined text) and converts it into plain text. if yours is custom designed in a publishing format or even a PDF-huge chunks (if not all) will be lost.

        1. SevenSixOne*

          or worse, the formatting may get alllll messed up in the conversion so it’s not even readable!

    2. Allison*

      Yes, absolutely! It seems like the common advice is “do whatever it takes to stand out,” as though standing out is somehow going to help you if you’re not qualified for the job.

      I’ve definitely seen some people express interest in our company who are really, really awesome people I would love to get in front of a hiring manager . . . if we had a job opening that called for their experience level and skillset. Being awesome might make me want to hire you, but it doesn’t really have an impact on whether you’re a fit for one of our openings.

    3. Liza*

      It took me a moment to figure out that “event hen” must mean “even then” (yay autocorrect, I assume) but now I’m thinking about Event Hen as a job role and having fun figuring out what it would be!

      1. Ama*

        Honestly, this perfectly describes the head of our event planning department at my org. Especially the closer we get to our biggest fundraiser.

    4. Weekday Warrior*

      I know it’s a typo but I love “event hen” as a job description. I took a minute to wonder if it was a new term for event planner!

    5. lawsuited*

      I really wish I was a graphic designer and event hen. I would would make the best event hen logo ever :P

    6. T3k*

      Yeah, as a designer, I’ve been on the fence about doing a really custom design resume (I’ve seen some really nice ones out there showcasing their skills) and at the same time, afraid if I do go full out on it it’ll be thrown into the reject pile.

  10. Cronkite*

    How many is “a few years out of school”? I graduated in 2008, but a majority of my experience in my field is internships (thanks, Recession!). I don’t want to group the internships together, as I did different things at each one. I’ve been squishing everything to fit it all on one page. BUT I am applying for entry-level or one step above entry level jobs, so I feel like people will be expecting one page resumes.

    1. Fawn*

      Same here – BA ’10, MA’13 grad, but I had relevant, professional, paid experience all throughout undergrad and grad school. I pick and choose the positions that are most essential to the position and I’m brief in the descriptions, but I genuinely feel that one page would not accurately reflect the course of my career so far.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      With seven years out of school and several internships, it’s understandable to have it on two pages, but also keep in mind that you don’t have to have every bullet point for every internship for every job you apply to.

      Have one master résumé that has every bullet point and every job and internship and then make a copy and trim out some stuff to tailor it for each job you apply to.

      Hiring managers want to see a general chronology (you were at this place, then this place, then this place) and what relevant experience and accomplishments you have. You don’t need to list absolutely everything you did.

      1. CMT*

        But what do you do when leaving out irrelevant work experience makes it look like you have big gaps in employment?

        1. Anonymous Educator*

          You keep the experience but not as many bullet points.

          For example, let’s say you have three internships that were one year each, and on your master résumé, you have four bullet points for each. That’s twelve bullet points total. If two of your internships aren’t directly relevant, keep them in with one bullet point for those two and keep in the four bullet points for the other one. That’d be six bullet points total.

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            You can also separate them into sections of “Relevant Experience” and “Other Experience”, or similar titles. On the version of my resume I used to apply for my first real teaching job, I had a “Teaching Experience” section with subbing, student teaching, and being an instructor at a summer camp – then in “Other Experience” I included things like how I managed a student kitchen in college, worked in a medical office in the summers, etc. But in the latter section I just had the job title, date, location, and a one-sentence summary of the role.

            Now that those jobs are a decade behind me, I’d leave them off entirely – but at the time they did strengthen my candidacy slightly by showing additional professional experience and some experience managing people.

    3. BenAdminGeek*

      In your situation, as a hiring manager I care much more about if you have irrelevant info than if your resume is 2 pages or 1. If you put that you were on a “Frisbee Golf Intramural team” for Fall or 2009, you’re not going to look good, regardless of how many pages your resume is.

    4. Student*

      I hate the “few years out of school” guidance. Mainly because I’m a PhD. I’m “only” 3 years out of school right now. However, I’m on my 6th job in my field (only one of which lasted less than 2 years) and I have more than a decade of highly relevant work experience.

      When I was coming right out of undergrad, I stuck to 1 page. After my first job post-undergrad, though, there was enough relevant stuff that I moved on to 2 pages. I think most people on their first job out of school will be doing 1 page, but any job after that you can probably do 2 pages, unless your first job was a flaming failure in some regard.

      1. TL -*

        But for a PhD you presumably need bullet points for that describing your work + thesis – versus undergrad, where you just need degree and university.

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        I wouldn’t count you as “just out of school” – I think going for higher degrees is a different thing. I consider “out of school” to mean either done with high school and entering the workforce rather than (or alongside) college, or just out of undergrad.

        Also, as a PhD, you’re more likely to be applying to jobs where the hiring manager would be interested in your research and other work done as part of your schooling. In contrast, the newly-minted BA who lists the research she did in spring ’14 for Biology 207: Animal Physiology is probably mis-stepping. (Unless she’s applying for grad school or other academic-type roles, in which case it might be appropriate.) The hiring manager likely doesn’t need that information.

  11. The IT Manager*

    My brain is wired differently. I would have stuck with fairly normal margins and fonts and just made it two pages if I really thought all that info needed to be there which it wouldn’t have since 15 years out of college I made a perfectly acceptable one page plus a little more resume.

    OTOH perhaps whenever the “one page resume” advice is given it should be followed by “with normal 1 inch margins and no less than 10 point font.”

  12. ali*

    11 point text is fine for a sans-serif (Arial, Helvetica), but if you’re working with a serif (TNR) font, you really shouldn’t go under 12 for most people, especially older people.

    *this is web design standard, not resume text standard, but I think print or screen this is a good rule to go by.

  13. The Bimmer Guy*

    If you’re young and have limited experience (as is the case for me), I’m curious as to why you’d *think* you needed more than a page. I’ve certainly never had the notion to make my resume look *smaller* than it is…

    1. The Bimmer Guy*

      Oops, I hit enter before I was done. Also, how much worthwhile information are you putting on your resume that would cause it to exceed the one-page limit? I’m young and I’ve not had much job experience as a web developer; that doesn’t mean I should include the “Hello World” HTML page I built when I was fourteen…

          1. ali*

            kids these days ;)

            I did in fact write my first HTML in 1992, when I was 14. Back then, that really was impressive! I included that webpage on my resume until I got hired to do actual web work (1996) and had a real portfolio I could point to instead.

      1. lionelrichiesclayhead*

        It doesn’t mean you should include your “Hello World” page but the problem is that many people think that this is something they should include! I think this happens a lot with people who are young and are either not confident in what they have done or are over confident in what they have done. Some use things like that to pad their resume to keep people from noticing they are inexperienced even though it’s ok to be inexperienced when you are young. And some use it because they think they are the first fourteen year old ever to create a Hello World page and of course an employer wants to know about that!

        Had to comment because I love your user name! I have a Mustang now but drove two bimmers when I was younger and I still miss the way they handled the road.

    2. Allison*

      When I was a recent grad, we were told to put every job, internship, and club on our resume, AND list any “relevant” courses we took while in school. Oh and hobbies, had to list hobbies. And high school. Basically, because we didn’t have any “real” experience yet, we had to list every detail that could possibly make us look ~special and unique~ in order to *stand out* among the other little snowflakes.

    3. Bostonian*

      If you’ve been reasonably focused during college, it’s not that hard to end up with 3 different summer jobs/internships, a couple of internships from the school year or a January term, a couple of on-campus jobs, etc. Each item might only need a bullet point or two to describe what you did, but most resume formats would have spaces between each job or internship, so people who’ve done lots of relevant short-term stuff have a lot more trouble keeping their resumes short than those who’ve stayed at the same company for a while.

      1. Intrepid Intern*

        This is me. Recently done with my Masters, and I have 10 internships/survival jobs to my name. Three of them are long enough ago that I’ve just dropped them, but most of the rest used different skillsets in slightly different ways, so I want to include them.

        1. The Bimmer Guy*

          These are good points. I had one internship, so I didn’t consider that. I guess for you, it’d just be a task of paring it down to what’s truly relevant to the job.

    4. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      It depends on where you’re getting your advice. If someone is telling you that you should be listing every job and activity you’ve ever participated in, things can get quite lengthy. (I feel like I have a concise, appropriate length resume but if my mom hears I’m applying for a job she always asks “did you put [children’s group I managed when I was in 6th grade] on your resume? No? Why???” If I were taking her advice my resume would probably be over 5 pages long)

      1. Allison*

        At least two people advised me to put ALL THE THINGS on my resume, and then said I can “whittle it down from there” but it was good to have one “master resume” of everything to start with. And they showed me some examples of truly boring, irrelevant things most people wouldn’t really care about.

        Now that I work in recruiting, I can say for certain that literally no one involved in the hiring process cares that you like to cook or go for nature walks, and no one needs you to explain what you did in your retail or food service jobs. They’re extremely straightforward, and honestly, if you’re fresh out of college and you have intern experience no one will care about your minimum wage jobs. You don’t need to explain employment gaps, you were in school. You don’t need to “paint a full picture,” you just need to highlight what you’ve done in the past that proves you’re qualified to do the job you’re applying to do.

        1. Honeybee*

          Er, the problem is some of these new start-ups (mostly tech companies) are actually asking new grads to put that junk on their resume. Zappos has the whole video resume thing (but they also don’t have specific positions and basically want you to supplicate them for a job, so they are different); the example they have on their webpage is one that involved costumes, props, and other people. Even more conventional companies encourage applicants to “be themselves” and share this. One company asked me to put community service projects on my resume (they were a tech company that had nothing do with human services). Another asked me to talk about my hobbies and likes/dislikes in a little box on the application.

          I mean, yes, 95% of jobs don’t want that information. But I feel like a lot of the biggest companies with the most notorious/well-known hiring processes are also the oddballs that ask for it, and new grads’ sense of how common that is is probably skewed by that knowledge.

        2. Stranger than fiction*

          I’d have to disagree with you on nobody cares what you did at a restaurant. I’ve mentioned here before how waitressing experience helped land me customer service and sales jobs, so sometimes it can matter. I mentioned things like quickly being promoted to trainer or the coveted night shift, winning upselling contests and things like that, just a couple bullets. But I see what you’re saying if it really has nothing to do with what you’re applying for. I now have tons of office experience so I no longer need to mention the restaurant stuff because it’s too old and would make my resume go to 3 pages and make me look old.

          1. fposte*

            Yes, I really like restaurant experience (retail experience, bar experience, etc.) in entry-level type people. Don’t put it on instead of your internships, but I’d rather see it than internships 4 through 6.

          2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

            I agree that that kind of experience can be totally relevant. It sounds like your bullet points highlight your particular accomplishments in those jobs – I think a lot of new grads include bullets that are basically just job description, even for not-directly-related jobs.

            * Took orders, brought food to customers, kept drinks refilled.
            * Accurately input orders into computer system to generate bills.
            * Served a variety of meals, including breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks.

            1. Charityb*

              Pretty much. Or they have those same job descriptions but dressed up to make them sound really elaborate. I’m a cashier, but my job description has phrases like, “was tasked with operating an electronic Point of sale hardware system and maintaining detailed accounting of gross receipts from sales, including a tabulated ledger of currency and coins,”

              On a personal level I think that job descriptions don’t belong on resumes unless the job itself is relevant or reasonably specialized. Even then I would rather see achievements rather than five bullets paraphrasing the original job ads.

    5. Fried Eggs*

      I think this often starts out as students with no experience getting solid advice to put seemingly minor things on their resumes. Your only work experience is shelving books in the library and you’re applying for an internship in a lab? By all means put the details of projects you’ve done in your chemistry classes on your resume. Once you have a few of those internships under your belt though, the lab you did freshman year isn’t really that relevant. But some students think that as they build their careers, they just add things to their resumes. It doesn’t occur to them to start cutting the old stuff off.

    6. Anonsie*

      I think because younger people just out of school are more likely to have had a lot of shorter stints in various things than someone who is just working full time, one job, for years at a time. As a student you might have had, in a single year, a summer internship that was FT, then one part time job, then a seasonal job, then a part time internship or work study or something. That was the case for me, anyway. I still could have chopped it down but it was difficult enough for me to figure out what was safe to cut that in the end mine flowed into the top of a second page.

      1. Felicia*

        This was the reason for me. When you’re just starting out, you tend to work a lot of jobs/internships/volunteer gigs at once, especially in my industry, and a lot of the time all of them are relevant so how do you know what to cut? For example, in one year, I did 2 different internships (each 3 months) a part time job for 8 months of the year (it was meant to be temporary) and a volunteer gig that was 10-15 hours a week for the year. This was the norm for people of my experience level to be doing, and it was all related to the industry i wanted to break into. This continues for about 2-3 years, so during that time you can have a dozen or so relevant positions (it’s also common to do a series of short contracts right out of school)so it’s super hard to figure out the one page thing.

        Now that I have a stable full time job, i would find a one page resume way easier than when I was just starting.

        1. Anx*

          Same here.

          Another issue I had with cutting things off my resume was that I didn’t have any really distinguished accomplishments, but I wanted to show that I was a hard worker and trusted with a lot of responsibility. Once I walked off a cliff at graduation and my experience dropped off, I struggled with looking lazy. I went from having 3 jobs a year to none. I had a 4 year unemployment gap, so I felt I had to put some of the minor things I did in those years. But most of my work experience is older, because that’s when I was working more.

    7. Anx*

      I think a lot of this comes down to the experience to get experience Catch-22.

      If you can’t find any job openings that don’t require 2 years of experience in the field, you may feel like you have to include every little piece of your experience to reach that threshold. Maybe a 2 month stint brings you from 10 months to 12. Maybe that event you volunteered for and helped plan can bump up those 22 months to a 24.

      Or job ads with quite a few specific requirements that you’ve acquired in a variety of positions. So if you want to prove that you have experience in Software Program X, but you’ve only used it on Not-Terribly-Relevant-Job, you struggle to cut that.

      Another issue may be just how competitive it is to enter a field. When there’s a surplus of qualified candidates, I would imagine not wanting to miss out on any position distinction. It’s not a wise strategy, maybe, but I can understand how it happens.

  14. AMT*

    I know my resume badly needs updating, even though I’m not looking, nor likely to anytime soon. However I always run into trouble with the accomplishments – I work in accounting and I do good work, but it’s not exactly quantifiable like what I’ve seen on most resume examples. Does anyone have any good tips for how to do this for this type of job, or know of any good example resources online somewhere? Every time I try to revamp my resume I get absolutely completely stuck and just say screw it and leave it as is…. Right now it is basically a list of duties for each position (i.e., payroll, accounts payable, etc) – for my kind of job is that ok, or should it be more accomplishment focused?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      No, no, no, it cannot just be a list of duties! (You could have done those duties terribly, for all the hiring manager knows.)

      These may help:

      1. Anonymous Educator*

        Can I put in an industry-specific amendment here?

        For K-12 teachers at independent schools, I care a lot more about their list of duties than I do about their listable “accomplishments.” When I’ve been involved in hiring teachers, I have cared a lot about what duties they had. You can go on and on about what cool things you say you did in your classroom, but I have no idea if you were teaching five sections or two sections or primarily 12th graders or 9th graders. Were you also a class dean or a coach? On paper, these are the things I care about.

        If I want to see how good a teacher you are, nothing you write on your résumé is going to impress me as far as that goes—I’m going to have to wait on that judgment until I see you teach a sample lesson, and until I have a chance to talk to your department head.

        1. Ad Astra*

          But the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Your bullet point can say something like “Increased 8th-grade reading scores by an average of 20 points” or “Improved football team’s record from 0-8 to 5-3.” The things you want to know are absolutely relevant, but they don’t have to be on the resume in place of accomplishments.

          To be honest, I don’t think my teacher husband has ever had to teach a sample lesson as part of an interview, but it certainly seems like a reasonable way to evaluate someone.

          1. Anonymous Educator*

            Again, I’m coming from a specific area of experience—K-12 independent schools, so increasing reading scores on standardized tests isn’t the top priority (it may happen if and when the kids take standardized tests, but that would be a byproduct and not a goal). Sure, for a coach seeing how many championships the team won under her leadership would be good, but in independent schools, it would be extremely odd to see teaching quantified in terms of test scores.

            1. Turanga Leela*

              Anonymous Educator, I’m curious—do you want to know what type of instruction the teacher did? I agree, you’d want to know what classes and how many students the person taught, but do you want “Taught kindergarten with class sizes of 16-18 children,” or do you want “Taught kindergarten with class sizes of 16-18 children; structured class around interdisciplinary thematic units about transportation, cities, bakeries, and weather”? Would the second part add anything?

              I love independent schools, and you’re right, a lot of the teaching is unquantifiable.

              1. Anonymous Educator*

                The second part would be helpful definitely. It gives the hiring manager (division head, department head, etc.) a sense of where you could fit in with the existing curriculum or what you could potentially add. Most of my experience has been with secondary school, so it matters if the English teacher has experience with British literature v. American (or both… or world lit) or has primarily focused on poetry or creative writing. Likewise, for math, it matters if the teacher has experience teaching AP Calc.

        2. lawsuited*

          I think Alison’s approach still allows for someone to include a first bullet point saying “taught classes of 28-39 8th grade students” and indicate whether they were a dean or a coach (isn’t that an accomplishment?), it just discourages folks from making a long list of pretty obvious duties like “photocopied handouts as required”, “prepared daily teaching plans”, and “marked student work”.

          1. Artemesia*

            Yes. You have to have ‘taught junior and senior classes in world history, American government and contemporary problems or taught 3 years of third grade and two of first grade.’ They have to know what the job was, but they don’t need to see the tasks associated with that job, but the accomplishments. Teachers in particular are pushed to organize everything by behavioral objective and so have skill at detailed trivia. People hiring teachers know what they do — they need to know who and what they taught and what accomplishments show they were good at it.

            1. Regina*

              What would you say for someone who has teaching experience, but is now applying for non-teaching jobs in their same subject matter?

              My situation is that I have my MFA, and I taught college-level art classes as an adjunct for 4 years. I also taught workshops and after-school art classes for school aged children. I have other experience on my resume outside of teaching, all of it relating back to art.

              A lot of the jobs I’m applying for now are more office-based, and while they are still in my field so it’s not a huge leap, these new positions have nothing to do with teaching. Is it a good idea to list some of these things that I did while teaching, if they could be related to an office job? Or should I assume that not only people working with teachers, but everyone, knows the sorts of everyday tasks that teachers do?

          2. Aussie Teacher*

            Yep – my resume has a list of accomplishments, and the first one is “taught classroom music across all year levels (7-12) and abilities, including a student in Yrs 11 & 12 who won the for Music in YEAR.”
            Clearly tells them what my duties were but with an accomplishment thrown in.

            I also have a short separate section where I list the most impressive awards I’ve achieved conducting choirs and orchestras, so they know that’s part of my job too and I’m darn good at it.

            1. Aussie Teacher*

              Oops should say “including a student in Yrs 11 & 12 who won the [State Award] for Music in YEAR.”

      2. Techfool*

        As a PA, I list duties as the job varies so much. But I do amp it up to say that the travel arrangements were complex or the conf calls worldwide across timesones or the boss was particularly high profile.
        I do highlight the extra things I did as it points to flexibility.

    2. lionelrichiesclayhead*

      Allison just left you some great resources but I’ll share with you one tip I used to change my resume from duty based to accomplishment based. Whenever I did something at work that made me feel extra great for accomplishing or, even better, got a special mention or notice from a boss or upper management, I wrote it down. When it came time for me to re-do my resume, I focused on those things to help me figure out what I should put on my resume. Not every item belongs but it can give you an idea of what is most important and what makes you better/different than the next person or from the people you work with. Think about special projects you’ve done or group work you’ve participated in or when a client/coworker called you out for something positive. I still do this to keep my resume fresh and also just to remind myself that I’m not a drone who does what anyone else can do.

      1. AMT*

        My problem is that the kind of work I do isn’t something where I’m making clients happy, or doing anything so great I’ll get called out for it other than people being appreciative that I am willing to help out other departments because I got my regular work done so quickly. I have a set of tasks and I do them and do them well, I’m not revamping the process or initiating a new system of doing things, I’m just doing my job… so I have no clue how to translate that on a resume. It’s something that is just incredibly difficult for me to even imagine how to do, if I found a resume writing service I felt I could trust I’d just go that route – but am incredibly wary of anything like that and not willing to waste the time or money on it.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Just in what you wrote here, I see two things that are resume-worthy: unusual speed (perhaps “regularly completed all work ahead of deadlines”) and initiative to do things for other depts (would want to describe that with more specifics, but that’s a thing you should talk about).

  15. Jenniy*

    If it is one line onto the second page I will tweak my margins by like .1 because it seems wrong to my OCD. It isn’t enough for anyone to notice by eye, but it solves the problem.
    But I also did community college and worked have been at my current job 6 years and will finish my BS degree in May so my resume isn’t traditional either.

    1. Xanthippe Lannister Voorhees*

      I do the same, but then when we do that we’re not trying to trick the system but make things a little bit nicer aesthetically.

    2. Joline*

      Yeah. That’s what I do. ANd for some reason I prefer to do it in the vertical as opposed to the horizontal. I think my eye is more trained for the standard in the side margins while the header and footer spaces can sometimes look different due to said headers and footers.

  16. lionelrichiesclayhead*

    Really glad to hear your take on this and also nice to have an idea of when going over to two pages is OK. My mentor recently had me change up my resume and even though it made me nervous to move into two-page category, there was such a difference view-wise when I compared it to my old resume. My old resume was just this block of black text which made it visually unappealing, hard to read, and just a big old mess. My new one has a much nicer look with categories and even allows me to include my references right on that document if it’s pertinent for that stage of the interview. So even though I was nervous to go into two pages, I now feel more confident since I’m further into my career and it’s so strikingly better appearance-wise.

  17. Bostonian*

    I’m currently trying to decide if I should go to two pages. I’m over a decade out of undergrad, but I went back to grad school late so all of my experience in my new industry is from the last 3-4 years. The stuff from before grad school has some good transferable skills, but I’ve stuck it down in an “Other Experience” section and pared it down quite a bit, even though it feels kind of weird to condense 8+ years of my life to take up a third of the space that the stuff from the last 3 years does.

    I’ll be applying for jobs that other mid-20’s graduates of similar programs will be applying to. My prior work experience should be a big plus, which is an argument for 2 pages, but I think most other applicants will only have a single page and I worry that a longer resume will seem weird to hiring managers.

    1. mskyle*

      I’m in a similar situation and basically the way I try to have it work out is with my “relevant experience” on the front page and my pre-career-change experience on the second page. Basically, if someone lost the second page of my resume I would look a lot like the ten-years-younger people I’m competing with for jobs (albeit with a weirdly ancient B.S. degree), but hopefully before that happens someone at least notices that I have some interesting though unrelated work experience.

      1. Bostonian*

        This is helpful, thanks! I think it probably does make sense to move the pre-career-shift stuff to a second page.

  18. Amber Rose*

    I did shrink my margins back in the day, but only the bottom one (I figured nobody would notice text a little closer to the bottom edge). And I never shrank the font, 12pt was drilled too firmly into my head.

    That said, what margins are normal? An inch looks like a huge amount of dead space to me.

  19. Ad Astra*

    I’ve always had a hard time following the one-page rule, even though I don’t have much more experience than anyone else who’s 5 years out of college. I think eventually I removed the “honors and awards” section, since most of them were irrelevant scholarships and stuff like that.

    And, as I’ve grown in my career, I’ve pared down the bullet points under my student newspaper jobs. But when I was a new grad using 10-point font and quarter-inch margins, those bullet points were pretty important.

    I guess I could also delete my box of skills, but I like it. It makes use of horizontal space and gives potential employers a chance to skim for the specific software and other skills they’re looking for.

  20. Mockingjay*

    Digital resume files.
    Throwing these points out for discussion – purely academic. Agree, disagree, thoughts?

    – 1-page rule: Since most resumes are delivered electronically (.docx, .pdf), does the 1-page rule matter so much? The HR manager can scroll swiftly through the document.
    – Font Size: I agree that printing 10 point and below can be hard to read. But I keep my monitor zoomed, so I can read just about anything. For me a small font wouldn’t be a deal-breaker.
    – Margins and Note Taking. In my office, we rarely print – we read, review, and deliver everything electronically. I can easily make notes on the resume on my laptop. Does anyone else do this?

    [That said, my resume is in a traditional format, following Alison’s rules. Questions stem from the younger members of the Mockingjay household, who are tech-savvy but still learning about hiring and office expectations and genuinely want to know.]

    1. Ad Astra*

      My resumes have always been designed to be looked at on a screen, but reading AAM and working in an office where people just love the feel of paper in their hands has made me realize that more people are printing resumes than I thought. I still include hyperlinks because it’s 2015 and the links can help provide context, but now I’m more careful to make sure it looks ok printed out.

    2. Anonymous Educator*

      I can speak only to my experience (mainly working in schools, mainly independent K-12), but the hiring I’ve been involved with has always resulted in the printing of résumés, so the digital rule is to send the PDF as one page or two pages with the assumption that your résumé may be printed.

      Typically, a school will get between 20-200 digital résumés and then electronically sift through them and print out a batch of the top contenders to give out to people interviewing the candidates.

      1. Aussie Teacher*

        In my job interview just a few weeks ago, they had printed out my resume and absolutely covered it in handwritten notes! I was very glad it was well-spaced with decent margins etc.
        (I followed all Alison’s advice and got the job – when I met the Principal he said my resume had been the stand-out!)

    3. LawBee*

      The initial look through of a stack of resumes may be electronic, but not every office is equipped to interview in an area with electronics. Most of my interviews (a few years ago, granted) were in little conference rooms – and the resumes were always printed out.

      Basically, there’s no reason NOT to make a resume as easily read in hardcopy as soft, so why not do it and cover all the bases?

    4. Fried Eggs*

      I’ve also always printed the resumes I’ve reviewed, as has everyone I’ve worked with. I’m 27, so fairly comfortable with technology. I just find sorting them into piles and being able to circle things with a pen helps me retain all the information, remember the candidate as a whole (rather than “didn’t we have someone with x experience?”), compare candidates side-by-side, etc.

      1. Anx*

        I can’t read anything on screen if I need to really read it well. I print anything important. I get nauseated reading on screen.

        It breaks my heart that libraries are moving to digital everything without providing patrons e readers (slightly better to read on because I can lean over it instead of looking upright at it) and then charging them to print it out. I’m sure there’s licensing issues, but it really stinks not to be able to really use a resource because of the format. I mean I could, but it takes so much longer and induces headaches.

    5. abby*

      As a hiring manager, it matters to me …

      – 1-page rule: It’s less of a formatting issue than a prioritizing and editing issue, in my opinion. If I have to scroll through lots of non-relevant stuff over multiple pages, then I honestly check out and don’t give the resume the careful review that I probably should. That is the risk with including too much stuff in a resume, and it being electronic does not mitigate that.
      – font size: I don’t keep my monitor zoomed because I like to see the big picture. Tiny font drives me crazy. Again, same thing … if an applicant has to use a tiny font to describe only a few years of experience in a limited amount of space, then that tells me they don’t prioritize or edit well. How would they do in my environment?
      – margins and note-taking: Hiring managers are all over the place with this. In my office, we do initial review and deliver resumes and associated materials electronically. Some hiring managers do all their review electronically, others print. I’ve not yet seen anyone in my organization take their laptop or tablet to an interview; note-taking is done on print-outs of the resumes.

      Easier said than done, but I would advise the younger members of the Mockingjay household to think about the needs of everyone who is likely to consider their resumes. Not just the tech-savvy people. Following the general rules outlined in this post won’t be detrimental to someone who does everything electronically, but violating them could be a problem for those that sometimes like to read a piece of paper and not a glowing screen.

    6. Lebanese Blonde*

      I also am really curious about font stuff–I use Garamond size 10 (I know, I know, it’s a little small..), and it looks so much less like a block of text than Arial or Times New Roman because of how much more angular it is as a font. Fonts differ a LOT as far as sizes go. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on my resume, and now I’m very stressed out about the font and size issue…!

      Also–this is essentially my commenting debut! Hello, all! I have read your comments for ages and have been completely irrationally nervous about taking the commenting plunge.

        1. Lebanese Blonde*


          Also, just completely redid my resume on my lunch break, quite embarrassed that I was breaking pretty much every one of these rules. And am 4 months out of school, eek!

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author


        My question back to you is who the resume compliments are coming from. If it’s from hiring managers, that’s good data. If it’s from friends who don’t do much hiring, ignore them :)

        1. Lebanese Blonde*

          Probably somewhere in the middle–very few friends have seen my resume, but response from parents/other professional adults has been good. My dad teaches business writing and my legal-assistant mother has actually pretty much stolen my resume. Several interviewers have told me it’s well-laid-out, but that could be compared to other recent grads interviewing…

          Regardless, I’ve upped my font size by a little, eliminated a few unnecessary bullet points, and reorganized a bit. Feels good to re-up, if only for aesthetic purposes.

    7. Jesse*

      On the number of pages, I’m with Abby — for me, it’s less about a “one page rule” and more about not having a ton of useless information. I really don’t care about your hobbies, travels, interests, coursework (unless 100% relevant), etc.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Agree with this. Your resume is your first opportunity to demonstrate your skills as an employee. Bloated rambling? Is not a skill most employers want.

        It’s less about exactly how many pages you have and exactly how thin your margins are, and more about whether you know what does and doesn’t belong on your resume, and how to say it well. If you legitimately have 3 pages of relevant, interesting, useful, well-written, necessary information, please give it to me. The issue is that it is a rare applicant who needs 3 pages to describe their relevant, interesting, useful, well-written, necessary information. Most 3-pagers are saying in 3 pages what they could say — better and with more effect — in 1.

    8. HR Pro*

      Mockingjay, I don’t think the recommendations about the 3 items you listed (page length, font, white space) really have to do with technology. They are about a person’s ability to convey information in a concise manner, as Alison said. The recommendations are also about the need for recruiters to be able to visually skim over resumes quickly. I can’t read every word of all 300 resumes I receive; I’ve got to do a first pass through them by skimming them. It is infinitely easier to skim when the person doesn’t have so much text on the page that my eyes don’t know where to stop. If there’s too much text on the page, I am likely to give up much quicker and move on to the next resume.

  21. Fried Eggs*

    I used to advise undergraduate students on their internship applications, including some heavy resume overhauls. I’ve got a ton of great stories from that. I’d say about 2/3 of them had two-page resumes. I’d generally shorten them to one page by removing some of the insane amounts of white space (I left plenty in to preserve readability).

    I usually tried to get the students to do most of the work, so I sent one guy his resume back full of comments, including that it needed to be on one page. He told me that wasn’t possible. I told him that if I could get mine on one page, so could he. A few days later he emailed me his revised resume. One page. Reasonable font size and margins, totally readable. I thought “See? That wasn’t so hard.” Then I go to print it for his file, and it won’t print. I can’t figure out why (other documents are printing fine). Eventually the IT guy walks by as I’m muttering at the printer. He says he has some down time and to email it to him and he’ll see what’s up with the file. He brings it to me printed out. On a legal size piece of paper. I hope he’s gone on to a great career at a company that values outside-the-box thinking.

    1. Claire (Scotland)*

      I just had to Google what a “legal size” piece of paper would be. I was imagining all sorts of illegally sized paper there for a minute.

      1. Fried Eggs*

        I love this. “Sir, we’re going to have to arrest you. This sheet of paper is much too narrow and not quite long enough.”

        For non-American readers, regular paper in the US is “letter size” (8.5 x 11 inches), which is roughly the same as A4. “Legal size” paper is comically long at 8.5 x 14. I’ve literally never used it, and I’m not sure why we have it. Though every office I’ve worked in had a dusty package of it in the back of the supply closet.

        1. Nashira*

          It’s used to print off certain ungainly, ugly, ancient and poorly designed spreadsheets in my office.

          Not that I have opinions.

    2. AnonAnalyst*

      This made me laugh out loud. I will give him props for his creative thinking — when I’ve had to trim something back to fit in a pre-determined amount of space, it’s never occurred to me to figure out how to make the space bigger rather than make my content smaller!

    3. dawbs*

      That is rather awesome and annoying as all get out.

      Puts me in mind of the (possibly urban legend) tale of the student (in the days of physical resumes, batch printed/typed) who went out and got resume paper cut at 8-9/16 by 11-1/16 inches; so 1/16th of an inch larger than a standard piece of paper all around.

      That way in a stack of resumes, theirs would always, quite literally, stand out. Be more noticed & easier to grab.
      I’ve always wondered if it would backfire because that resume would look slightly more beat-up, after being batted around in a pile, than it’s peers.

  22. Chocolate lover*

    I once saw a resume from a PhD that had originally been multiple pages, shrunk and photocopied to look like 2 facing pages from a book! It was tiny and I couldn’t even read it. I kept telling him at his level, it didn’t have to be one page, but he was adamant that it MUST be only one page. He wouldn’t listen, even when I pointed out that it was virtually unreadable, and was counterproductive because employers wouldn’t read it at all.

  23. Lunar*

    I have actually seen the opposite of this lately. In one aspect of my job I handle resumes a few times a year. They come from a variety of people at different places in their careers (some recent graduates, some who will have graduated from college more than a decade ago) and one thing that I have noticed recently is people using very large margins, lots of spacing, and large font sizes (we’re talking at least 14 point) and their resumes are taking up 3 or more pages. I’m not sure if this is some kind of new trend. It definitely increases readability, but seems a little odd and sparse when only your contact info and a few bullet points about your education are listed on the first page and then your experience appears a page or two later. Seems to be taking the readability thing to an extreme.

  24. bkh*

    Again, I must be odd. I’ve always had a two page resume in 11 point font with decent margins, and I still got jobs. Now that I’m on the other side of the resume, I don’t immediately discount a two page resume when reviewing.

  25. AHK*

    My supervisor is currently looking to hire someone through work-study, and we had a freshman send in a resume that was five pages long. Someone at some point will have to sit him down and explain why that is a very bad idea. But for now, he’s not getting hired in this office.

  26. Regina*

    In my field (art), part-time jobs are common. I’ve actually never had a single position that was over 30 hours per week (but I’m job hunting now and SERIOUSLY hoping to nail down my first full-time position now…for my sanity as well as benefits). Because of this, I’ve had multiple positions at a time for the past few years. A few of them I’ve removed from my resume entirely, such as a part-time retail position. There’s no gap on my resume because I was doing other work actually in my field at the same time. However, there are some other times where I had two really relevant and important part-time jobs at once. I don’t want my resume to look like I’ve been flighty or had too many positions for my years out of school. Should I be designating that these positions were part-time? (And if so, as I mentioned, EVERY job I’ve ever had has been part-time unfortunately…) I also don’t want them to seem less important than they actually were. You can learn a great deal and make a big impact working somewhere 20 hours a week, for example, so I don’t want it to sound like it was no big deal because it was not 40 hours a week. I know it’s fine to use 2 pages for my resume, but sometimes I just feel panicked about the number of positions I’ve held. When a friend said, “You’ve had more jobs than anyone else I know!” a few months ago, I really stopped to consider whether that was positive or negative. Any thoughts on the number of positions held?

  27. Jake*

    I was a margin culprit. I use size 11 Times New Roman, but my margins were .6″ on all 4 sides. Increased to .9″ on all sides.

  28. MH*

    About the occasional exceptions to the rule of 1 page resumes for recent grads: how many internships/jobs/other experiences do you all think someone would need to justify a second page? I’ve just started my senior year – I’ve done four internships, led a public speaking club, and am now in a part-time research position, and I’ve studied abroad three times (all in the region of the world that I want to focus on career-wise).

    I have a one-page version of my resume, but I feel like that version cuts out valuable information (I usually end up cutting a position or two and cutting down my study abroad experience to a single bullet point in “education” rather than talking about the language skills and research experience I gained). Any thoughts you guys have would be greatly appreciated!

    1. fposte*

      I am not assuming that all the valuable information about you is contained in your resume; in fact, I am assuming that it’s not. It’s not the number but the depth. Semester/summer internships aren’t that deep; study abroad isn’t that deep; a public speaking club isn’t that deep. Nothing wrong with them at all! But adding on more at the same depth doesn’t increase my understanding of you; it just adds numbers to the sequence. Condensing your study abroad into a single bullet point is an excellent move; if you’re significantly capable in those languages, they’ll get another line on your resume, I bet, and if you’re not, they probably haven’t earned their space on the resume anyway.

      Ask yourself what story you’re telling with this document. How do these pieces fit into it? If you plotted the trajectory of your growth through internships, which would be the key points? Not “what did you learn from each one,” but “which ones would be key in defining what you bring to a workplace?” What does your running the public speaking club tell me about you–is the public speaking club your only non-work activity? Is it the main example of your running something? Is it one of the longer-term commitments in your history? Is it a contrast to research-based commitments and experiences that gives you a dimension I wouldn’t have seen otherwise? Those are the kind of questions you ask when deciding what kind of resume real estate, if any, to give to something.

      1. Jen S. 2.0*

        Also, a lot of information can be gleaned from the job / activity itself; you don’t have to spend space telling me nitty-gritty details of the job if they aren’t unique. For example, if you studied abroad in a German-speaking country, you SHOULD speak German; you don’t need to spend a line on it. Likewise, people know what waitressing or retail involves; if the job was pretty standard, you can skip straight to what you did that was special, instead of spending a line telling me that you can take food orders or fold clothes.

        1. Techfool*

          Many ppl study, work and live in other countries without picking up the language, I would call it out esp if it`s relevant and you’re fluent.

      2. MH*

        Thanks everyone! I see the point that not every position will be relevant so it’s ok to leave at least one out most of the time. And I do have my language experience in another section (including the different dialects I speak), so I guess anyone reading it can figure out the connections on their own. I’ll try to stick to one page from now on :)

        (And yes the club leadership is my longest-term commitment, though it’s probably not as relevant as some of my other experiences. I’ll probably leave it on for postings that specifically emphasize critical thinking and/or public speaking and leave it off otherwise)

  29. Weekday Warrior*

    Late with this observation but I’ve just finished a hiring process, for a Super Event Hen. :)

    Younger people with less experience tended to have better resumes than many of the older more experienced folk. The more experienced often just crammed it all in! The youngs had more white space and more modern looking layouts. We did look at experience but darn the cover letter and resume look and feel do serve as a proxy for how we think the person will be on the job. Able to focus on the important things or drowning in detail? Room to learn or bogged in the past? These are the questions that came to mind.

  30. Maggie*

    The longest CV/resume I’ve received was a 32 pages long. It was from an IT graduate, who had knowledge of programming but apparently none of how to format text in Word. The pages were in landscape and the font size varied from 24pt to (I’m guessing) 60pt, with indents and tabs all over the place. Spelling appeared to be optional.

    He wasn’t considered for the position. Not because of the CV, but because he clearly had not read what the job was for.

  31. Techfool*

    Having been through the interview mill (and got a job ), I saw many ppl “read” my cv. They skim it reak fast.
    I amended it so the first page is dedicated to my latest role, lots of white space and bullets. It needs to be very obvious what you did most recently.

  32. Sonya*

    I for one would like to see the title of this post become “the primarily American one-page resume rule”. In many other countries, this would be too short. Americans apply for jobs abroad too, and it would be tone-deaf to stick to this rule when doing so.

  33. T*

    I proofread a resume for a friend who has 3 years of helpdesk and very junior-level sysadmin work at his first job. His resume was 3 full pages and used words like “expert” to describe himself with various technologies. My brother was visiting me that weekend and I asked for his first impression. Based purely on his resume, he asked me if this guy was a junior admin or the VP of Technology because he couldn’t tell. I told him it should absolutely not be more than one page at his point in his career but he did not take that well. He got it down to 2 full pages and toned down his language a little but it was still a ridiculous resume. He went on quite a few interviews and hasn’t been offered anything yet, including at a company that hired most of his co-workers. The guy is actually super talented and has done some advanced projects for his experience level but he is still not an exception to the one page resume rule.

    I hire regularly for junior positions and a long resume for an inexperienced person is painful to “read”. (But I only actually read final candidate resumes and long-winded junior resumes don’t pass the skim test to make it that far.)

  34. Greg*

    I think the last point is the most important. Removing unnecessary content from your resume, going through line by line and asking, “Does this absolutely have to be here?” will make your resume BETTER, not worse. It’s an incredibly valuable exercise to go through.

  35. Kate*

    I would say the one huge exception to this rule would be anyone wanting to go into governmental work. I learned from my co-workers that for federal government resumes typically are 3-5 pages long and need a much higher level of detail on duties performed.

  36. Chris Hogg*

    First, I’m just wondering, where in the Constitution, Robert’s Rules of Order, or applications for The Nobel Prize is it written that resumes must be one page, two pages, or any number of pages? A good resume rule to follow, in my humble opinion, is to say what you need to say, and no more, in a way that is pleasing to the eye and easy to read.

    Second, to T: you write, “He went on quite a few interviews and hasn’t been offered anything yet, including at a company that hired most of his co-workers. The guy is actually super talented and has done some advanced projects for his experience level but he is still not an exception to the one page resume rule.” One (main) purpose of a resume is to obtain an interview. Your friend obtained “quite a few interviews.” So it seems that your friend’s problem is not with his resume, but with something he is (or is not) doing during the interview. And usually, during an interview, the key issues are attitude, body language and tone of voice, and whether or not we effectively relate with and to the other person. Is your friend, perhaps, his own worst enemy?

  37. brownblack*

    I recently gave myself permission to break the 1-page rule (I’m 31) and it has been really freeing. It allowed me, ironically, to eliminate all but the most riveting one or two bullet points under my earliest jobs and focus on all the impressive accomplishments I’ve had in my most recent jobs, plus it gave me breathing room to add relevant volunteer experience and other things I wouldn’t have included before, AND it allowed me to use 12 point font and 1 inch margins with no concern whatsoever.

  38. Joe*

    Agree with wanting to make it easy on the hiring manager to read. I was once on a committee in charge of hiring summer interns at my company. We had six openings, and 1200 resumes, so we each took 200 to weed through and find the good ones. One of the ones I still remember was someone whose resume was very light blue text on a white background. This person might have been the most qualified candidate ever, but I never knew, because that was an automatic discard at that point. Yes, I could’ve spent ten seconds to change the font color, but why would I when I had 199 other resumes to go through?

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