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Jonathan Hall
Jonathan Hall

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How long should your résumé be?

On one of the slack channels I frequent, we recently had an interesting discussion about the most effective form of a résumé or CV for technical roles. In particular, how long should it be?

Here are my thoughts, copied from the conversation. Of course, it goes without saying that every recruiter or hiring manager has their own taste and expectations, so your mileage may vary.

My résumé is 2 pages. But it’s probably too long. What I think is much more important, though, is that the most important things must be on the top half of the first page. As a hiring manager, the first things I want to see on a résumé: 1. What kind of role do you expect (broadly speaking). I.e. frontend, backend, UX design, SRE, etc. 2. Is it possible you have the experience I’m looking for for my particular role?

What I think this means is that you should make it obvious (although not necissarily explicit) what kind of role you’re looking for. This could be in the form of “Desired role: Sr. Go Engineer” or it could be more implicit (i.e. just by listing your most recent job title, assuming you’re not looking for a change of roles).

Then second, it should be obvious what kinds of technologies you’ve used in the past. This could be in the form of a list of technologies (“Proficient in: Go, Python, and Kubernetes”), or it could be details of your most recent job(s). “At Acme Co, I wrote Go and Python for our Kubenetes cluster…”.

The point is, these two details should basically jump out. If I can’t immediately tell that the candidate is looking for a role I need to fill, and if I can’t immediately tell there’s a chance they might be experienced enough, I’ll discard or at least move to the bottom of the consideration pile.

For bonus points, the conversation went on to mention some unique résumés that I’ll link below. If you’ve ever used a particularly unique résumé, I’d love to see it, and hear how successful it was at finding a job. I may use it in an upcoming post and/or podcast episode. Hit REPLY and tell me about it!

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