Why We Don't Read Resumes Longer Than 1 Page
“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead”, Mark Twain
Mark Twain was a literary genius, and he got it right when he said brevity takes time.
His quote goes a long way to letting you know why we at UrbanVolt only accept 1 page resumes from job applicants. And despite having heated debates with some external recruiters, we stick by this rule.
The old adage that recruiters only take 10–20 seconds to skim a resume is true. We’ve all been in the position of being the job seeker, and it’s painful to think that you spent weeks crafting your resume into the best possible picture of you, only to have someone spend less than half a minute digesting your entire working life.
But as the recipients of dozens of unsolicited resumes every month, we can confirm it’s true — you only have seconds to impress.
Every resume and cover letter which cross our threshold in UrbanVolt are read by a number of parties — but only if they are each 1 page long.
So what’s behind our logic?
1: Brevity is important in both speech and writing.
We are all time poor.
So if you use 100 words where 10 will do, you’re wasting both your time and that of others. By sucking up people’s time unnecessarily, it demonstrates a lack of self awareness.
And as current behaviour is an indicator of future behaviour, you are unwittingly telling us that you are going to suck up time and mental bandwidth from those around you.
2: If you can’t meet the requirements, you’re not actually interested.
Lots of people have a 2 page resume and they couldn’t be bothered cutting it back to 1 page before sending it to a bunch of companies which are recruiting.
Which tells us the applicant either didn’t reach the job description, or they are not interested enough to put in the effort to cut it back to 1 page.
In fact, this is great because they’ve screened themselves out without us having to do so.
3: The weekend job you had in your local shop during college 15 years ago is not relevant.
Brevity forces you think. Really think.
Are all the listed roles and functions really of interest to the company you’re contacting? Why are you talking about your kitchen experience when you’re applying for a sales role?
Less space to fill in that 1 page means you will include only what is necessary.
4: We expect you to be skilled.
So saying that you know how to use Microsoft Word is not of benefit to you.
Only list skills which are relevant or interesting.
If you are applying for a logistics role, having Lean Six Sigma certification matters, but does it really matter that you can use Photoshop?
5: You’ll be forced to choose whether to include ‘Additional Interests’.
The part of your resume which is of most interest? The bullet points at the bottom of your resume which indicate that you’re an interesting human being.
If you’re waxing lyrical about your working and academic achievements, you may make the decision to axe the fact that you’re a qualified bungee jump instructor. Or that you spent a year abroad working for a charity.
Cutting this information can be a fatal mistake because employers want to know their staff are not one dimensional.
So tell the company a little about you.
You can speak Nepalese? Great! You may not need it for the role you’re applying for, but it’s a great talking point for an interview and demonstrates that you have interests outside of work.
6: If millionaire entrepreneurs can do it, so can you.
We know he didn’t write it himself, but if Elon Musk’s career can fit on one page, you have no excuse.
Ultimately, if an applicant ignores your requirement and sends you a resume which is longer than 1 page, they’re doing you a favour. They’ve screened themselves out and you can focus your time on candidates who have not failed at the first hurdle.