The answer is YES! Maybe size shouldn't matter, but it does. According to a study by Dr. John Sullivan, on average 250 resumes are received for each corporate job opening and there is only a 1% chance that a person who submits a resume will be invited for an interview. This means a lot of competition. Knowing that many recruiters only look at the first 50 of their resumes, and they only spend 10 seconds on each one before deciding yea or nay, this situation isn't easy to swallow for job-seekers.
Dear recruiters out there, let’s assume you’re looking to hire a director with 10+ years of experience, ideally more than 20 publications, 3 different companies, and skills and knowledge in what feels like a million programs. If all of this is packed into a single resume, you’re looking at a a lot more than one page. Receiving more than 250 resumes for this opening will be a tough day…
Reviewing resumes is simply part of a recruiter’s job. The length of a resume shouldn’t matter as long as the quality and the information is relevant for the job. But fellow recruiters, let’s not lie to ourselves. There are many of us out there who avoid scrolling down on a digitized resume and who are too fast to put a resume in the “definitely not” pile (virtually of course).
Going off of what I prefer (and I am tempted to say that many recruiters are on my side here), if possible, applicants should stick to the one-pager. First of all, it shows that a candidate is capable of conveying info precisely and concisely. There is no need to pack every work experience, an entire life history and hundreds of publications in a resume. Cutting the resume down to match experiences to the job description makes it easier for a recruiter or a hiring manager to say yes. Reading one or two cutting-edge publications or groundbreaking experiences that are actually relevant for the job will be convincing that the person deserves an invitation for an interview. Everything else can be discussed then (and it will give you more things to talk about).
Sometimes for a candidate, this just doesn’t work without risking not getting the job. If a one page resume doesn’t provide enough substance, clarity or a well-rounded picture, candidates should be comfortable to exceed one page. Especially when the job involves special skills, I’d rather read two more pages than see a list of company names and job titles that would force me to call every single reference to find out more.
Reading resumes is a challenging task that ultimately decides not only the company’s future, but also the applicant’s. It is a skill that takes experience to become good at and it takes a lot of time and effort to interpret a resume in a valuable way.
As a recruiter or hiring manager, do you only look at one-pagers? What is your strategy to separate the wheat from the chaff? Comment, criticize and share your perspective!