There are a lot of theories when it comes to resumes.
Some argue that you should summarize everything you have done in one page. It simplifies the document, makes it easier to digest, and your accomplishments will shine brighter. Prospective employers can scan a single page faster and see whether or not you’re a good fit.
Then there’s the theory that this is hogwash.
Advocates for much longer resumes insist you should be more detail-oriented. They say it’s better to list all of your accomplishments, milestones, and tasks for every job, and to add extra sections (which you might also call padding) like hobbies and certifications. If a resume is not three pages long and stuffed with extra facts and information, it just won’t work as well. I’d argue that none of that really matters.
A resume should be long enough to present a clear picture of your background, but there is one thing that is far more important than keeping it short or padding it with extra info.
Here’s an example. Let’s say you are applying for a marketing job and have a ton of marketing experience. You worked on a social media campaign or developed a process for content marketing. Padding a resume with extra pages explaining what you did is a little boring — you’ve basically written a
novel. Condensing things down to one page isn’t smart either — it seems like you have had a brief marketing career. My suggestion is to not worry as much about length.
Instead, worry about data.
On that social media campaign, find out exactly how much you grew the platforms — find a percentage or state the before and after numbers. On that content marketing initiative, provide quick stats about how much pageview traffic you generated and how you converted that content into actual sales leads and tracked the success. Use a lot of numbers. People prefer to scan through a resume that lists these accomplishments as verifiable stats.
It might look like this:
- Increased Instagram followers by 700% over a three year period
- Posted 156 articles about Company X during my tenure
- Increased Facebook engagement on all posts by 234% in one year
This makes your resume look a bit more like a business dashboard or an analytics document. You’re not just stating what you did and bragging about your success — you are including hard numbers about actual growth. You’re showing that your efforts in previous jobs led to success by stating the actual data involved — data that a potential employer can check and verify.
A resume like this stands out because so few candidates take the time to do this. It is hard to dig up this data, and it might even require making a few phone calls and checking through some previous reports and analytics data. Many candidates take the time to think through their prior roles and what they did in those roles; few prove what they accomplished with data. You will stand out partly because you present this information in a digestible format.
Now, you can take it too far. Don’t turn a resume into a spreadsheet. List out the titles you had, the dates you worked in that job — go ahead and include your hobbies and interests. Let the length and detail flow naturally as you present the story about yourself. Don’t decide to do a three-page resume and then stock it with extra information. Decide what really sells you as a top performer in your field, and then include exactly that level of detail.
Here’s another example of how to include raw numbers. Let’s say you are looking for a job in the communications and media field. You’ve created quite a few videos over the years with a team of creatives and technical personnel. Pick the best videos and include stats about the viewership but (of course) leave out the videos that underperformed.
It might look like this:
- Video for Company X had 123,000 views on YouTube
- A viral video on Vimeo led directly to a sales increase by 57% over one quarter
- YouTube subscriptions rose to 5,600 people during my tenure due to consistent video posts
Let the data you include dictate the length. Let the story you want to tell about yourself dictate the format. Above all else, focus on the hard numbers. That will impress potential employers who will notice right away that you like to stick to the facts and figures.