Exercise: The One Page Resume

Exodus 31:2-5 “‘See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills – to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set sones, to work wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.”

In Scripture, I haven’t found too many job descriptions. Most of what the Bible references seem to be straightforward occupations: shepherds, carpenters, tentmakers, fisherman, etc. Today’s world has many more occupations, with even more nuances to those occupations.

Somewhat in response to that, resumes have proliferated in length to multiple pages. In fact, I once received a 30-page resume! The candidate felt the need to make me aware of all the articles he/ she had written. Waaaaay too long!

For the most part, 2-3 page resumes are fairly common, and I’m not here to take a position on the “perfect” length for a resume. We talk more about resume length and process in Step #4 of our Crossroads Career Workbook. What I do hope to persuade you to do is to go through a short, important process to create a one page resume.

Here’s the essence of the exercise: Using whatever resume draft you would like to start with, give yourself 60 minutes to create a one-page resume. Don’t worry too much about format, spelling, or word smithing. Just capture your experience in one page. Yes, that’s all there is to it!

Now, if you’re like many people I’ve explained this exercise to, there’s usually a visceral, negative, “impossible” reaction to this suggestion. After all, most of us have worked for years, we have many accomplishments to advertise, we want to include STAR story references (last week’s blog), and we “need” to ensure we reflect key words included in the job description for which we’re applying.

Take a deep breath…think through this. Take a quick look back at the Scripture referenced at the beginning of this blog. Now…how many words does it really take to convey what it is you do best…for people who need it most?

After working through this exercise with hundreds of people, they have shared with me these results:

  • Amazing clarity on what it is they’re trying to advertise about themselves
  • Clutter literally disappears from their resume
  • Bullet points that they’ve carried forward for years have no purpose
  • Accomplishments get sharpened to concisely describe what has been achieved
  • New readers of the resume know immediately what the value proposition is

Here is why this exercise works. Our minds have incredible dexterity to complete tasks within the time deadlines given. It’s kind of like a “desperation causes many things” to occur. If you simply “have to” get it done in 60 minutes, a one page resume will appear, and as part of that process, your mind will click into what makes the most sense to you.

So, to be clear, I’m not saying to get rid of your 2-3 page resume. They actually have their place and can be useful. What I am saying is that your resume will be far more useful to you when you take a little time to go through this exercise.

Set the timer to 60 minutes, breathe a prayer for assistance and clarity – – and GO!!

Dave Sparkman currently serves as the volunteer Crossroads Career board chair and local ministry leader. He is also the founder and managing director of Spark Your Culture, a corporate culture consulting firm. Prior to that he worked at UnitedHealth Group, a Fortune #5 public company, serving in the role of Chief Culture Officer. His unemployment experience came from the implosion of Arthur Andersen, where he served as the West Region Managing Partner, People.

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