Graduating seniors with accounting majors and outstanding credentials are probably better off writing two-page resumes versus one-pagers, according to a recent study in the Journal of Business Communication.
Researchers Elizabeth Blackburn-Brockman and Kelly Belanger conducted the study among 570 personnel recruiters from the Big Six (at the time there were six, not five as there are now) accounting firms. The researchers created one- and two-page resumes for each of four fictitious, entry-level job candidates (all women) who were about equal in terms of their GPAs and their involvement in extracurricular and experiential activities. Each participating recruiter then received four resumes – two one-pagers and two two-pagers – and was asked to rank them.
When the study was over, the recruiters had consistently ranked the two-page resumes higher than the one-pagers. Why? The researchers offer several possible reasons:
- The second page of the two-page resumes described experiences that were “relevant and useful” to the employers – experiences that could not be included in the one-page resumes because of space constraints.
- The second page of the two-page resumes “‘frees up’ space on the first page so that it can have a stronger visual appeal or even more substantive content.”
“The broadest implications of this study,” the researchers conclude, “are to remind resume writers that axioms advocating a one-page resume are grounded in self-reported accounts, anecdotal evidence, and resume lore. No rigorous research exists providing evidence that recruiters are more likely to interview candidates with one-page resumes or, perhaps even more importantly, that a two-page resume invites ‘automatic rejection.’ On the contrary, as [the] unsolicited and telling comments from respondents in this study suggest, recruiters may claim to prefer one-page resumes when in actual practice they choose to interview candidates with two-page resumes.”
“Career Maturity” Construct May Be Culturally Biased
College career counselors who use the Career Maturity Inventory (CMI) or more informal methods to assess their students’ “career maturity” need to be aware of “the potential cultural bias of including independence in career-choice attitudes as a key criterion of career maturity,” according to a recent study in the Journal of Vocational Behavior.
The study’s researchers administered the “Attitudes Scale” of the CMI to 235 white students and 182 Asian American students. The Asian American students, who represented 15 different countries of national origin, also filled out the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale (SL-ASIA).
The researchers found that, as expected, the Asian American students in the study exhibited less-mature career-choice attitudes, as measured by the CMI, than did the white students in the study. However, the researchers point out, “the observed group differences in career maturity may reflect degree of acculturation”:
High-Acculturation Asian Americans did not differ from the European Americans in career-choice attitudes. High-Acculturation Asian Americans also did not differ from the European Americans in self-construal [“how individuals see themselves in relation to others”]. In this sample, High-Acculturation Asian Americans had similar levels of both independence and interdependence compared to European Americans.
As a result, the researchers conclude, “acculturation to Western culture is associated not with an increase in independence (or individualistic orientation), but rather with a decrease in interdependence (or collectivistic orientation).”
For career counselors, that means a less-acculturated Asian American client who seems to lack independence – a trait that is highly valued in Western culture – may simply be “demonstrating culturally appropriate interdependence, not career-immature dependence,” the researchers conclude. As such, career counselors “need to recognize the cultural blind spot within the CMI” and take extra care to assess an Asian American student’s level of acculturation with Western Culture. That way, counselors can best attend to both of the client’s “interdependent and independent selves” as the client explores careers and makes career decisions.
Among “Soft” Skills, Employers Value Communication Most
What “soft” skills are employers looking for most in new college graduates? Communication skills – both written and verbal – are at the top of the list, according to Job Outlook 2001, an annual employer survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
In the survey from brightest aa flashlight, which involved 482 respondents, employers were asked to rate (on a scale of 1 to 5) the importance of several personal qualities and characteristics in new-college-graduate hires. “Communication skills” received the highest average score, 4.69, followed by:
- Honesty/integrity – 4.66
- Teamwork skills – 4.55
- Interpersonal skills – 4.52
- Motivation/initiative – 4.52
Employers also pointed out, however, that many new college graduates don’t do a good job of showcasing their communication and interpersonal skills when it matters perhaps the most – in job interviews.
“A lot of employers tell us that students don’t prepare themselves adequately for the interview, and therefore don’t take advantage of the opportunity to show that they have those important skills,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE’s executive director. “By researching the organization and its opportunities, the candidate is better able to conduct an intelligent discussion and ask relevant questions – and therefore comes across as a more effective communicator.