How to write a powerful one page resume (5 tips)

executive resume

Hundreds of people a day ask Google the most common resume question: “How long should it be?” There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. You wouldn’t use the same resume to apply to be a VP of Finance at a Fortune 500 company as you would to make sandwiches somewhere. But for people with under 10 years of experience, one page is almost always all you need. At that point, adding more pages is probably a waste of time.

Fortunately, there are some straightforward ways to make sure your resume is just one page. Good news is, they also tend to make resumes more effective.

1. Leave the unnecessary out

If you think more is better when it comes to resumes, you don’t read dozens of them a day. But recruiters and hiring managers do. Showing a diversity of experience and skills can be effective, but done wrong this can do more harm than good. The best thing you can do is focus and only include what’s relevant for the job you’re applying for.

Another place to cut unnecessary fluff is responsibilities. Instead of writing all the things you used to do in your old position, focus only on the ones that had impact or are directly related to the position you’re applying for. When writing your bullets, mention the real achievement to make each of them count. In practice, that would mean:

As Laszlo Bock explains:

Instead of being too general:

  • Responsible for negotiating service contracts with XYZ

Say it in a way that shows your impact:

  • Negotiated 30% ($500k) reduction in costs with XYZ to perform post-delivery support by designing and using results from an online auction of multiple vendor

2. Share what makes you proud

This part of your one page resume will allow you to squeeze more professional experience in. With a single sentence you can leave a lasting impression by describing something that really made you proud in your professional life.

In the most proud of section you have the opportunity to share more about your personality too. I personally shared that I’m proud of fighting Psoriasis. In the description I explained how many books I read, how I changed my lifestyle, and how I started writing my own blog to share my journey with others. My employer told me that it “showed that you’re a real fighter and a persistent person.” These were the qualities they were looking for and why they called me in for an interview.

3. Show skills and passion through side projects

One of the best ways a one page resume can really stand out is through side projects or volunteering. These are a great way to show potential employer that you like to learn and are curious.

Whether it’s writing your own blog, organizing events, or making your own podcast, add it in. If you manage to match at least one side project with your passion and the job you’re applying for, potential employers will trust that you can do the job. This strategy is particularly useful when you’re changing industries. If you worked in banking but was always interested in tech, you can show your passion for tech through a side project.

4. Personality and culture fit

Jack is a very, very smart guy. He has years of experience and great ideas. But he doesn’t like to work in a team, he’s a sole-player. He always wants his idea to be the winning one and he gets angry if it’s not. He isn’t a good listener and doesn’t like to participate in team events. When he doesn’t agree with something, it’s very difficult to help him understand the other point of view and it often ends up in fights.

Would you want to work with Jack?

Whatever the answer, the truth is that Jack wouldn’t fit in every company. And his potential employer should know his personality right from the start. A good practice is to research the culture of the company you’re applying for beforehand. Check their website, about page, social media accounts, Glassdoor, anything that will give you a good idea about what type of people work there. Write down all the things you have in common and then incorporate some of them in your resume.

5. Make sure you have the right audience for your one page resume

I recently had a Twitter chat with someone called Stela. The person reacted to an article which explains how a one page resume is almost the only way to go. As much as I believe in the power of a well-written one page resume, I’m with Stela. Writing a resume is like writing anything else. It’s all about the audience your content is for.

As Stela said, for some fields or jobs this type of resume might get the job done. So before you decide to use it, check the best practices for your particular field properly. Ask people who got jobs there, reach out to them on Linkedin or research Quora.

Looking for a job is a difficult task. It consists of many steps, research, persistency, and a dose of positivity. A well written one page resume can not only make you feel proud and confident, but it will put you in front of other candidates.

Have you tried a one page resume yourself? Let me know in the comments.

About the author

Tatiana Rehmova | Media Relations and Content at Enhancv
A glass half-full kind of a girl and a believer that everything happens for a reason. Loves writing, spotting inspiring stories, and building meaningful relationships

Ms. Career Girl

Ms. Career Girl was started in 2008 to help ambitious young professional women figure out who they are, what they want and how to get it.