There is a forever ongoing debate about whether a resume should be just one page or as many pages as it takes to demonstrate a person’s candidacy for a position. The reality is that both opinions are correct – the truth is in the eye of the beholder!
It is the preference of individual hiring managers that matters, and if you ask a group of them, some will say they prefer a one page resume while others will say they want to see a lot more detail. This is down to their ‘personality type’ and in particular, how they prefer to take in or perceive information.
You probably have heard of Jung’s theory of personality that is the basis for the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (the MBTI). According to the theory, some people like to take in information through their senses – they like facts, figures and details. They are practical and realistic, and need the detail of a situation before they can see the ‘big picture’. These are called “Sensing” types. In the MBTI four letter designation, these are an “S”.
The opposite preference to Sensing types are people who take in information through “Intuition” or an almost “sixth sense”. In the MBTI four letter designation, these are an “N”. They are future-focused and see possibilities, and prefer to see the ‘big picture’ first, before being able to focus on the detail and facts of a situation.
It is safe to assume that approximately half of all hiring managers will be an MBTI “Sensing” preference, and the other half will have an “Intuition” preference. So what are the implications of this information and how should resumes be constructed to meet the preferences of both types of hiring managers? The Sensing types will want to see the details, so they will be interesting in the list of positions you’ve held, the responsibilities involved, and what you achieved in each position. The Intuitive types will want a ‘snapshot’ of where you’ve been, what you have done, and what you can probably do for them. Once the Intuitive has grasped the ‘big picture’ about you, and if interested in what they see, then and only then will they want to see the detail.
Now you can see why the debate about a one page resume or a multiple page detailed one is a forever ongoing one, because both positions are correct depending on the personality type of those discussing the matter. So a resume needs to provide a brief, concise snapshot, followed by the detail. Hence the importance of the first half of the first page of a resume – this should provide the overview of your career and what your strengths are, but focused on a particular job so that the hiring manager reading it can quickly determine if you are what they are looking for. This satisfies the preference of the Intuitive types.
To satisfy the preference of the Sensing type of hiring manager, your resume then needs to provide the detail of what was briefly mentioned in the ‘snapshot’ – the responsibilities and associated achievements of each position held. Again though, these need to be focused on the requirements of a particular job.