You Don't Need A Two-Page Resume
Jonathan Wong / January 14, 2020
4 min read • ––– views
Over the years, I've had many resume iterations. As I moved into my new role last month, I went to update my resume — That's when I realized it was terrible.
This is going to be a sort of resume retrospective. Basically, I'm just going to roast myself. Laugh at my mistakes and learn from my failures.
This was my resume out of college which helped me land my first full-time engineering job. There were more resume iterations before this, obviously, but they were terrible. Let me save some dignity.
Okay, I'll start with the good.
- It's one page. The layout is clean and comfortable to read. Good job, Lee.
- The job title is more prominent than the employer.
- Most bullet points are useful (not too much content).
- Projects and GPA are still relevant because I'm fresh out of college.
What about the bad?
- This thing is written with LaTeX. Why? Because that's what everyone on Reddit did. Talk about over-engineering.
- My middle name is not relevant. My name isn't that generic.
- My phone number is not needed. This trend persisted for a while.
- Some of the bullet points talk about what I did instead of the impact I made.
- "Videographer" is not relevant to the position I'm interviewing for.
In 2017, I got the bright idea to re-design my resume. The content didn't change much.
There's some good:
- At a glance, you can quickly parse the content.
- Easy to read font.
- Education moved down now that I have a full-time job.
There are some issues, though:
- This custom Photoshop design did not work well with Applicant Tracking Systems, or ATS for short. Which is, ya know, the whole point 🤦🏻♂️
- The location of the companies is not relevant.
In 2018, I switched jobs. Time to dust off the ol' resume. But, just when you thought it couldn't get worse...
I made this thing with InDesign.
It had an embedded font. Well, it turns out the embedded font didn't work in Firefox. So the resume was basically unreadable in some cases.
I don't have much good to say here, so let's just go straight to the bad:
- The about section is a complete waste of space. Save it for LinkedIn.
- References are not needed on the resume.
- I'm not sure why I decided to drop the start and end dates from my work positions. "3 years" isn't very descriptive.
- The GitHub link is unnecessary. You can find it on my website.
Brace yourself. We've now reached peak monstrosity.
I finally gave up on custom designs and opted to use a service called Standard Resume. It was easy, required little maintenance, and worked much better with ATS.
Plus, I thought, let's add every single thing I've ever accomplished. I committed the ultimate sin. I made a two-page resume.
Some things are good:
- The skills section made a comeback. ATS love those buzzwords.
- Some of the newer bullet points have excellent metrics.
- It's a wonderful design. Easy to read.
But others are bad. Really bad:
- I've been out of college long enough that I can drop the internships.
- Instead of putting freelance dev work, I put a project (dsmtech).
- GPA is not relevant anymore. Then again... was it ever relevant?
- Did I mention it's 2 pages? No one has time for that.
That brings us to now. Behold, this single sheet of (digital) paper.
I made this with Pages on Mac. No custom fonts. No crazy design. I'd like to think it's the culmination of all the points made above.
- It's easy to update and maintain.
- The font is readable, and there's a good use of bold and italic.
- Unnecessary information is omitted (GPA, projects, internships, phone number).
- More relevant information is included (skills, freelance work).
- Industry normalized job title (Software Engineer III -> Senior Software Engineer).
- There are clear start/end dates with the same format throughout.
- Proper use of whitespace.
You don't need a two-page resume.