One-page Resume too long?

  • Reading time:5 mins read

Did you hear about the new type of resume only 140 characters long? Twitter fans will immediately know why 140 and not 141, because when you tweet text on social networking and micro-blogging sites that’s normally all you get.This latest trend in recruiting comes from China where the micro-blogging site http://weibo.com allows a 140 character resume. But take note that you need a lot more characters and words in the English language to express what 140 Chinese characters do. So personally I’m not so sure how popular this will be in the part of the world using the Latin alphabet.

When I met Ong the first time, it was at a sports and networking event over 10 years ago, she gave me her business card. As I was looking at her card, I asked what she was doing and what her background was. She said: I’m looking for a job, please take a look at the back of my business card.”

At the back of Ong’s business card was a brief summary of her professional and educational background. I didn’t count the characters but you try to see how many words you can print on the back of your own card. Not a lot, right? I had never seen anything like it. In fact, never seen it used since. I was so impressed by the creativity that a week later I offered her a job in the company I worked with at the time. And we worked happily forever after and the rest, as they say, is history.

But back to short resumes. Un résumé is a French word for an outline or summary. The Latin words Curriculum Vitae mean the course of life. Once again we can say “same same but different”. It is extremely important that you know when to use a resume and not a CV. Or the other way around for that matter.

There is only one purpose of a resume. It’s to get you an interview. It’s not to get you the job; it’s not the form you fill in with personal details on your first working day. The resume is your personal advertisement that is meant to excite the reader so much that they call you to come in for a meeting (interview).

When you create your personal resume think like an advertising copywriter who must draw attention to their client’s product using very little space, being it an ad in the magazine or on a web site.

If you are on your first or second job, a one page resume will most likely be enough. As it also is for new graduates. But if you by now have been in business for many years you should have several good achievements to show in a list of bullet points. Two pages will then do just fine. If you like me started your career at the time we had no fax, laptop, or iPhone and when ABBA was hitting, then leave the first 15-20 years of your career in two lines. You could say: Several sales and marketing jobs in the travel and hospitality industry.

It is not necessary to include names and addresses of any referees. Reference-taking takes place only at the time where the employer has decided to offer you employment. At this time you should if requested be prepared to provide names, not your family or friends but people who have worked with you.

Though we love to know the reasons for leaving your jobs, in particular when you appear to be job hopping, you should be ready to answer these questions – but not in your resume, only when asked during the interview. Simply leave out any information about why you left a job.

If you have a degree, a bachelor, a masters or any degree relevant for the job you are applying, this should obviously be included under the headline Education. But do not enclose copies of your diplomas and certificates. Instead bring the copies along for the interview in the case the recruiter would like to check your educational credentials.

Any employer will like to see and learn about your most recent jobs and achievements, what relevance it has to the vacant position. First of all, your current or most recent job must be the first on the list under Work Experience. As number two on the list, your second most recent job and the list goes on like that.

You should not use Microsoft Excel or Microsoft PowerPoint for your resume; go for the standard and acceptable Microsoft Word document. This message is especially for accounting people who can’t live without Excel. But please, for your resume you should use Word.And if you are in China you may want to consider the 140 Chinese character resume on weibo.com.

Tom Sorensen

Tom Sorensen is an executive search veteran with over 25 years of experience recruiting in Asia, Europe, and Africa. He has worked in executive search in Thailand since 2003 and is recognized as one of the country’s top recruiters and most profiled headhunters.