What Your Six-Page Resume Says About You (and your “elegant code”)

I see a lot of six-page (or n-page where n >2 for nearly everyone) resumes on any given day, whether in my capacity as a retained recruiter servicing software companies or via my side project Resume Raiders performing resume reviews and revisions for job seekers. No matter how the resume arrives in my inbox, I’m always surprised in 2016 that the six-page resume is still “a thing“. It shouldn’t be.

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

The reasons for unnecessary length are incredibly easy for a trained professional to diagnose, and I’ve written about them in the past. Our purpose today is not to fix the long resume, but rather to emphasize why you should.

For anyone who feels their six-page resume is appropriate, it may be useful to hear what employers think when they learn your resume is that long (before even opening it).

  1. “I’d hate to see their code, documentation, comments, emails, etc.” — Oh the sweet irony of a six-page resume that leads with a summary bragging “Experienced software engineer known for producing elegant code“. When an employer sees six pages, they are likely to assume that the person behind that resume is far from succinct in any form of communication or in their code.
  2. “Garbage collection isn’t working” — Expanded details lingering from older jobs that are typically less relevant to current job searches are a sign that the writer took the lazy route of just adding more content instead of trimming older fat.
  3. “Someone has a high opinion of herself/himself” — When a writer choses to submit six pages, the reader is inclined to believe that the writer intended for all six pages to be consumed. You are asking an employer to consider you for a job, and then asking for 10-20 minutes out of their busy day to make an assessment that should require half that time. If we want employers to respect the time of job seekers during the hiring process, we should start by respecting their time.
  4. Priorities?” — Employees in any industry are expected to decide which tasks are more important than others, and the ability to recognize the difference between something significant and something trivial is often necessary for success. The inclusion of your most trivial duties leads a reader to infer that you view these as accomplishments to be proud of instead of rote tasks that perhaps you could have even automated.
  5. “Do what you do best, outsource the rest” — Of course I’m well aware after years in the business that technologists aren’t always the best self-promoters or marketers. Regardless, they are generally bright people who might recognize that they need a hand and reach out to a peer or a professional for a second opinion.

There really is no excuse for a six-page resume these days. Collect old garbage, prioritize, and if necessary get help.

Let’s kill the long resume! They are unnecessary, you don’t want to write them, and we don’t want to read them. Spread the word.

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