Muschamp Rd

The One Page Resume

February 24th, 2012
Job Wanted

I’ve been unemployed for too long. There are obviously reasons for this, but if I had all the answers, I wouldn’t be unemployed now would I? I try to shore up my weaknesses and leverage my strengths. I spend a lot of time online reading ‘expert’ advice on what to do and what not to do when looking for a job, or writing a cover letter, or during an interview.

One piece of advice I’ve resisted heeding is to switch to a one page resume.

There are definite disadvantages to a one page resume, the biggest two are half as much room to cram in keywords and being forced to leave off potentially valuable skills and experience. The other big challenge facing job seekers, besides intense competition, is maintaining their online reputation and ensuring their Google results are acceptable. If a potential employer wants to find out more about me, the information is only a web search away.

A screen shot of the HTML version of my resume

My hobbies, my picture, my age, all of this can be quickly found out even if I leave them off my resume.

The other reason I have resisted making the change is I’ve put a lot of work into fine tuning my resume to include valuable keywords and the information that hiring managers have remarked upon the most. My resume was working just well enough to get the odd job interview, two last week, which is definitely above average. Creating a one page resume isn’t as simple as deleting the entire second page, you have to reword, rewrite, and relocate various information. I also had to reduce the amount of whitespace in my Microsoft Word file.

MS Word is the default format most employers want in a resume, though some ask for a PDF. Even as a longtime Apple fanboy, I’ve continued to use Microsoft Office. I’ve also stuck with the .doc file extension. Additionally, I’ve maintained an HTML version of my resume online for over 15 years. I spent a lot of time converting it to be an hResume. So in addition to having to carefully rework the Microsoft Word version of my resume I had to modify my carefully hand coded HTML. Printed HTML, even with CSS isn’t foolproof so it is possible I did not succeed in creating a one page version of the resume hosted on Muschamp.ca, but it is definitely shorter.

My entire employment history, along with all the places I’ve volunteered, the universities I’ve attended is in LinkedIn. I have some control over which information is publicly available and I also can restrict which LinkedIn users can see my entire profile, but as a job seeker you have to surrender a lot of privacy online. Once you surrender your privacy online you are unlikely to ever get it back.

I’m not sure the one page resume is right for everyone or appropriate for every single industry and job posting. Maintaining multiple resumes or regularly cutting and pasting content into and out of your resume is problematic. Customizing your resume for every single job application isn’t always possible due to limitations imposed by career websites for instance. You definitely can only post one resume on your homepage and you’re only supposed to have only one LinkedIn profile.

As I still have reservations concerning the one page resume, I decided to put it out there whether it is a significant improvement or if there are any glaring mistakes in my recently revised resume. Guy Kawasaki and Vivian Giang are adamant that hiring managers don’t have time and just don’t care to read resumes over one page in length.

Update April 10th 2012

In the month plus I’ve been using a one page resume it hasn’t resulted in a single job interview, all the interviews I’ve had were a result of my previous two page resume, custom cover letters, and whatever I typed into various job application websites. That said I’ve been unemployed too long and it definitely works against me. Recent research has shown recruiters only spend six seconds on your resume and what they look at it your current position, the position before that and your education when deciding whether you are a potential fit.

Update December 14th 2014

I spent another six months unemployed and looking for work in Vancouver. One of the things I did was pay to have my resume professionally redone. Ironically everyone I showed my new professionally written resume including a previous boss liked my original resume better. My career has been stuck in neutral for a long, long, time. I’ve never recovered from the events that took place during my MBA. I don’t do a good enough job selling myself. My confidence was destroyed by the words and actions of others. 

Now I have much more modest aspirations. I am just trying to get by. I should probably be studying for the Level 2 CFA® exam, even though it is over six months away, I really am trying hard to pass, but it seems nothing I do works, certainly not blogging my way to a better career.


  • No name.

    Muskie. I have a 2 page resume too. No more, no less. Interestingly, I’ve always made a point of asking the people who’ve hired me the question “why”. Every good job I’ve ever had, it was because of my interesting hobbies, secondary employment and volunteer work that provided me with unusual experience that stood out. And all of this is in the second half of page 2. Go figure. My conclusion, most hiring managers are useless twats who don’t know how to read resumes anyways. But they’re not the person to hire you. They’re just the filter you need to get through. It’s gotten so bad that companies now pay incentive bonuses to employees for “employee referrals” and whatnot. You want a job? Put your interesting resume directly in the hands of the person you will report to. They make the decision. They will pull you through the red tape and into your position. You need to network, man. You’re a smart guy with an intelligent resume. It doesn’t mean shit today. In Canada, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. I should know. Been here all my life. Damn, I love short sentences.

  • I’ve had a lot of difficulties, but switching from a two page resume to a one page resume is generally a mistake if you have significant skills and experience, you will have to leave off positions and keywords in a one page resume. Modern job application websites use keyword parsers extensively. For instance you could be a software developer with ten years experience and have worked for Microsoft, Apple, and Google, but if the acronyms: SQL, UML, and XML do not appear on your resume, it will not get selected when the recruiter types in “software developer with SQL, UML, and XML”.

    Networking doesn’t work for everyone. I’ve networked a lot in the past and found people quicker to use me than to help me. It is also not possible to network if you live in a rural area, or work/study part time. Health problems and other personal problems can make networking extremely difficult. Nowadays experts continue to insist you can blog or even tweet your way to a new job, but that hasn’t worked for me either.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

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