Not a Vitae
October 23, 2011 5:17 PM   Subscribe

Should a nurse with years of experience but no advanced degree keep her resume to one page or is it ever appropriate to spread out into two?

I'm helping to make a resume for a nurse applying for a part clinical/part administrative position with a local university. Her current resume is five pages long though she does not hold an advanced degree. I've not seen this material, and there may be many clinical certifications, but I explained over the phone the rationale for keeping it to one page. She's spoken with her daughter, about to graduate college, and her husband, "also a professional," who have told her that when the applicant is older and has a lot of experience two pages are permitted. Should I aim to distill her professional experiences down to one page in a way that intrigues readers and covers the critical qualifications or should I let it all hang out over two pages?
posted by R2WeTwo to Work & Money (11 answers total)
One page is a great rule of thumb, but it certainly could be appropriate in some circumstances to have two pages. You really can't answer this question without actually considering the content of the resume.
posted by J. Wilson at 5:29 PM on October 23, 2011

One page of accomplishments in the U.S. You get two if you're applying for a C-level job.

Make sure she isn't wasting space on responsibilities. Any warm body can meet the responsibilities. The accomplishments are what distinguish you as a candidate. If she has 75% of page one filled with accomplishments that are directly relevant and impressive for a person applying for the positions that she is applying for, you can think about going to 2.
posted by bfranklin at 5:33 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would go with two pages if she has relevant experience for the position she's applying for. And I would put her jobs/experience at the top, and her education at the end.

I don't think there are many rules for resumes anymore, except to tailor it to the job you're applying for, make it professional looking, and triple-check for typos and other silly errors.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 5:35 PM on October 23, 2011

IMO I think the length depends on how many other applicants there is expected to be. If she is applying for a competitive position where there is likely to be a shitton of other applicants, whoever is screening them is likely to just look at the first page and second page information is almost wasted as it'll get a cursory glance at best. If it is for a position where there may be fewer applicant the people looking at the CVs will have more time and be more inclined to dig deeper in the initial phase.
posted by edgeways at 5:39 PM on October 23, 2011

The "keep to one page" standard is quite a canard. Especially for mid- to later-career professionals, two or more pages is very much the norm. More if there are patents or publications to list. I see a lot of resumes, although for C-level execs more than for medical professionals, but I would like to implant a notion that one should use two pages (or even more, if justified) instead of choosing such a small font that reading glasses or a magnifying glass are needed to read the information crammed onto one page.
posted by DrGail at 5:52 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

In my (niche consulting) industry, the one-page rule really only applies to new graduates at this point. I think the change has been driven by the internet: so many applicants / position that far fewer people get invited to interviews that allow them to discuss the details of their past work.
posted by charmcityblues at 6:03 PM on October 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'm so glad I asked! Thanks, everyone. You've helped a burned out nurse move into something much more fulfilling!
posted by R2WeTwo at 6:21 PM on October 23, 2011

One page is nuts for anyone over 25 or so. If you want a resume layout to look decent you won't have room for anything useful on just a page. I'm 30 and have about 8 years of relevant experience to cover, and mine is two pages with the second covering a little less than a full page. Five pages is also nuts though, so pare it down to two unless there's some special nursing convention I don't know about.
posted by crabintheocean at 6:37 PM on October 23, 2011

Resumes are generally sent by e-mail these days, not on paper, so the one page rule is a lot less relevant than it used to be. Furthermore, the margin- and spacing- tinkering that often has to happen in order to get an experienced candidate's resume to one page is TERRIBLE for e-mailed resumes; you never know when the viewer's computer is going to have some not-quite-compatible version of some program, and the doc winds up looking like salad on the screen.

Bottom line - two pages is fine; keep the formatting simple; use bullet points, not paragraphs; focus on objectively quantifiable experience (don't waste space calling yourself "effective" or "dynamic" etc); don't go over two pages.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:10 PM on October 23, 2011

I'm currently on a hiring team. Unless your objective is quite specific, e.g., you are looking for pediatric nursing only, etc., leave it out. Make your degree, college, certifications, and continuing education hours very clear. Make your resume very easy to read.

{bold]Title {big tab}Employer name, city, state{big tab}dates{end bold}
Desc. of duties, special skills, awards, etc.

Better to go to 2 pages than to make it too crowded, but no more than 2. Write a good cover letter.
posted by theora55 at 7:43 AM on October 24, 2011

Brava, Theora, and everyone who came to our aid. This is really great!
posted by R2WeTwo at 2:54 PM on October 24, 2011

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