February 2012 Bar Bulletin
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February 2012 Bar Bulletin

One-Page Resume May Shortchange You

By Karen Summerville


Q. I am applying for a coveted in-house position. Having practiced for over seven years in the same firm, I have not needed a resume in a long time. When I was in law school, career services admonished never to exceed one page. Does the one-page limit still apply?

A. Excellent question! This question comes up at least once a week. In the past, a resume was essentially a simple outline, listing degrees, employment and basic biographical data. Bullet points were thought to be unprofessional — resembling ad copy.

In today's digital world, applicants are often competing against dozens, if not hundreds, of other candidates, who submit their resumes online. The only way to distinguish yourself is to include relevant, professional accomplishments. When detailed successes are crammed onto a single-spaced page in 8-point font, not only is it unattractive, it is virtually illegible.

What fascinates me is that human resource professionals continue to express a preference for one-page resumes, but the decision makers often appear to favor a longer, more informative version. Recently, a client called in a panic. She had just submitted her two-page resume to a firm in application for an advertised position. In a conversation with the HR director, she was told that one-page resumes were preferred.

Fortunately, I was able to reassure her that another client had joined the same firm a few months prior. His resume was three pages long and included informative descriptions of his past successes.

In creating a resume that gets you an interview, you will want to include a "Summary of Qualifications" and a "Professional Experience" section. In setting forth your qualifications and experience, you do not want a bland litany of types of cases and matters handled. You want bullet points that showcase not only your expertise, but also your successes.

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