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What the One Page Elon Musk Resume Can Teach Career Aspirants and College Applicants

Posted on Aug 31, 2018
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If you have been following Elon Musk in the news lately, you would have come across the one-page resume created by Novorésumé to show that even an accomplished person like Elon Musk does not need more than a single page to showcase all his achievements. His two decades of work, with numerous accolades, awards, and credentials did not need more than 1 single page. If that’s the case, why do we write long and detailed CVs?

Why Do People Create Lengthy Resumes?
On a psychological level, most of the times, people worry that they are not good enough. They feel that their accomplishments are insufficient, ordinary, or hardly worth a mention. Given that we now live in a world of rat-race competition and hype, people lean on the validations of a resume to impress others or feel good about themselves. There is a growing tendency among students and professionals to beef up the contents of the resume, simply to make it ‘eye-catching’! Therefore, the use of complex words or phrases, jargon and clichéd writing is a common practice. Simplicity and lucidity of language is tossed out in favor of inflated, redundant text.

Can Interviewers or Recruiters See Through the Fluff?
In most cases, they can. They can distinguish between an accomplished person and a person who is just a poser. They have screened hundreds of applications, resumes and documents to be able to separate the wheat from the chaff. Even if you manage to get past their critical eye, you stand to flop badly if your resume does not reflect the real you at the stage of the personal interview.

What You Should Learn From Elon Musk’s One Page Resume?
Elon Musk has had a blazing career track. Co-founder of X.com. Founder of Zip2, which became the famous PayPal. Creator of OpenAI. Concept creator of high-speed transportation system Hyperloop. Founder of SpaceX. Founder & CEO of Tesla.

If you look at his list of work accomplishments, each of his accomplishments deserves at least a 3 page write-up. His educational background is also noteworthy. Yet, all his achievements have been scrunched into less than 300 words. How is that possible?

It is possible if you keep off the fluff. Elon Musk’s resume talks only about his key achievements. That keeps the focus on important matters. If he were to walk into an interview, his resume would give the panel the right talking points.

What Should You Not Pick Up From Elon Musk’s One Page Resume?
So, you are not Elon Musk. You are not even a CEO of a large company. (If you were, why would you need a resume!) And you don’t have a hundred earth-shaking things to talk about. What would you do? Make your resume look sparse?

You don’t need to do that. To write a resume, you first need to think hard on what you would like to highlight or showcase on the resume. Think of your CV as window dressing. You only want to put the most attractive articles on display to entice shoppers to walk into your shop. Likewise, your resume has to showcase your best side. Truncate the length to keep it brief and simple. Write to create a positive impact and attract your readers. For instance,
1. A resume should be brief, informative snapshots of your skills and experience.
2. Keep the Irrelevant information out.
3. Edit, edit and edit to keep all typos out.
4. Proofread your resume many times over before hitting send.
5. Ask a friend or advisor to take a second look.
6. You only get one chance to make a great first impression. Don’t lose your chance at scoring that job or career.

Do College Admissions Officers Like One Page Resumes?
No, Elon Musk’s resume is not necessarily the gold standard for all resumes. It is just an extreme example of how CV’s can be brief and complete. Elon Musk does not need a resume; his name would suffice to get him through any business deal. (or not, depending on how he is perceived by the other team)
College admissions department have a plethora of things to do. They don’t have the bandwidth to sift through piles of paper, most of which would have fluff. You can make it to the top of the rack, by simply writing a clear, and brief resume. If your resume merits 2 pages, so be it. But don’t let quantity override quality.

Will You Be Missing Out by Not Writing a Detailed Resume?
Your resume should be as long as it needs to be in order to showcase all of your skills and experience, while still being easy to read. You don’t want to get passed up because your resume looks too difficult or long to read. The 1-page resume trick can work only if you have little or no real experience or extra-curricular work to talk about.

Here’s a quote by Elon Musk to inspire your thinking:
“Don’t delude yourself into thinking something’s working when it’s not, or you’re gonna get fixated on a bad solution.”

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