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Resumes are inching up

by Kimberly Nicoletti
HCBR

National polls indicate that when it comes to resumes, the one page rule may no longer apply.

A decade ago, 73 percent of executives polled said one page resumes were the ideal length for a staff-level resume. Now only 52 percent say one page is optimal.

Instead, 44 percent prefer two page resumes these days (as opposed to the 25 percent polled 10 years ago). Respondents also were more receptive to three-page resumes for executive positions, with nearly a third (31 percent) saying that was an ideal length, as compared to 7 percent saying that a decade ago.

An independent research firm conducted the national survey, drawing from 150 senior executives including those from human resources, finance and marketing departments in the nation’s 1,000 largest companies. Accountemps, a staffing service for temporary accounting, finance and bookkeeping professionals, developed the survey.

Kelly Ladyga, spokesperson for Vail Resorts, has seen more two-page resumes from applicants at Vail Resorts. At Keystone Resort, resumes tend to be longer at entry level positions. Higher-level positions, such as general manager, still tend to be one page.

“Most entry-level applicants are from college and want to write everything they’ve done,” said Guiela Eberle, human resource specialist, adding that higher-level applicants tend to have developed concise summaries.

Brian Peterson, Keystone’s human resource director, said he still likes one-page resumes because they’re easier to screen, as they include only what’s relevant to the job opening.

“One-page resumes also open up dialogue for an interview, more than if they write it all out,” Eberle said.

However, Peterson does like to see a person’s entire work history; he’d like to know if they’ve worked at 20 different jobs in the last 20 years.

“Many employers are willing to spend a little more time reviewing application materials so they can more easily determine who is most qualified and act quickly to secure interviews with these candidates,” said Max Messmer, author of “Managing Your Career for Dummies.” But he also added that employers want to see that applicants can prioritize information and concisely convey the depth of their experience.

Peterson pointed out the importance of checking references, verifying that the employer is talking to the applicant’s actual supervisor and “making sure they are who they say they are.”

Though Peterson prefers one pagers, Bev Bailey, town of Frisco’s human resource coordinator, said one to two pages is fine, but anything beyond is too much. She sees mostly one-and-a-half pages to two.

“I look for people to be comprehensive but concise, to show their experience but not go into too much verbiage,” she said, adding that noting five years of experience is plenty because that’s what is relevant to a present job. She said applicants can state any other related job experience in their cover letter.

Debbie Black, owner of Quick Quality Print in Frisco, which helps people create resumes, sees a lot more two-page resumes these days. Part of the reason is because some companies are asking for 10 years of data rather than five. Still, 70 percent of the resumes she writes remain at one page, with a one-page cover letter summarizing qualifications.

The national trend of longer resumes seems to go hand-in-hand with the trend of workers changing jobs more often, said Kent Abernethy, labor specialist at the Frisco Workforce Center. However, he pointed out that there are ways to shorten resumes, for example by writing a functional resume, which headlines skills, rather than a chronological format.

Since resumes vary in format and length so much these days, many employers use applications in addition to taking resumes. This allows employers to level the playing field, in a sense, by adding structured questions.

“Everyone answers the same questions on the application,” Abernethy said. “Then the resume gives people leeway to do what they want.”

DO:

– Describe key contributions at prior jobs and how they impacted the bottom line.

– Summarize software expertise and other specialized skills.

– Devote extra space to describing work experience that is most relevant to the job description.

– Use terms referenced in the job description if they apply. Firms often scan resumes for key words included in the job description.

– Reference your activities with professional civic associations, community involvement and knowledge of a second language, if they apply and relate to the job.

DON’T:

– Use exact dates of employment; months and years are sufficient.

– Include irrelevant details about your personal life or list your hobbies.

– Misrepresent your education or career experience.

– Use professional jargon and abbreviations.

– List references or include a lengthy objective.

– Use complete sentences; short bulleted statements are better.

Source: Accountemps

Now 10 years ago

One page 52% 73%

Two pages 44% 25%

Three pages 3% 1%

Don’t know 1% 1%

Preferable length for executive positions:

Now 10 years ago

One page 7% 28%

Two pages 61% 64%

Three pages 31% 7%

Don’t know 1% 1%


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