The Case For A One-Page Resume

One of the biggest mistakes made by college students today is thinking they need to “pack-it-all-in” on their resume. And, unfortunately, too many college career centers aren’t helpful in this area either.

The biggest mistake of all? Making a resume longer than one page. Yes, I am saying that all resumes should be only one page.

Google it – the average amount of time a HR director, hiring manager or the person hiring you is going to spend on a first-pass of a resume is like 6-8 seconds. Yes, six to eight seconds. That’s shorter than the attention span of a goldfish.

So, making it longer than one page is fruitless. In addition, nearly half of the recruiters I spoke to at a recent job fair on campus at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told me they literally “throw away” resumes that are two pages or more. Why? Because they can – and in some cases, need to.

 Look, let’s be honest here. If you’re in HR and you need to hire someone for a new entry-level account management position and you receive 100 resumes for the job, what’s your role? Is it to find the one perfect person for the job? No, It’s to find a reason to eliminate 99 people from the pool of applicants.

Sound familiar? If it doesn’t then you probably don’t remember the college applications process. This is exactly the same thin that college admissions departments do every year. In fact, at UNC in 2017, we had 43,473 applicants. We admitted 9,524 (and 4,326 enrolled for the Fall of 2018). So, what do you think the first step was for the UNC Admissions Department when they received those 43K+ applications? You guessed it! They found a reason to eliminate a giant chunk of them because they didn’t qualify for admission. That elimination-first process simplifies the selection of those that do qualify.

That’s what HR does, too. They start by eliminating – not qualifying.

And, now that you know that one of the arbitrary, elimination processes is to randomly-discriminate against anyone with a longer-than-one-page-resume, why would you make your resume longer than one page? Ding, ding, ding; right answer. You wouldn’t!


written by Gary Kayye