What I'm stuck with is where should I draw the line between writing everything down and writing too little.
Sounds familiar. What works best for me is a three-point combination:
With the emphasize on 1-pager. First, it typically saves me time: whenever I am asked to just send a CV I go with 1-pager - and whenever it happened, I never seen a recruiter being unhappy with that. Some of them ask for something else, but not many mind you - this is likely because my 1-pager includes link to my detailed online CV which they typically seem to be happy to check for details when needed.
Second, and probably most important, I am using 1-pager to drive the quality of detailed CV. You know I always find it tough to rank the importance of details and to compose them the right way. Making 1-pager gives me invaluable opportunity to learn, practice and further use that skill to improve my detailed CV. (Did I mention it gives quite some pain? well it does - study is rather hard.)
It goes about as follows.
- I start with just a heap of everything I would want to put there. This heap takes 6 or maybe 8 or 10 pages doesn't matter and in the beginning it looks awful. Anyway I put it into detailed CV draft and start tossing and squeezing it, learning what I can do to make it a bit smaller while keeping most of the important details.
- After "drying out", say 2 pages of 10, I return back to "backup copy" of my detailed version and improve it based on stuff I learned.
- Then goes the next round, and next and next until I am done and have a real 1-pager. At this stage, my detailed CV somehow magically got good enough (given the number of revisions and pain I've got while doing 1-pager this maybe is not that magic after all)
After that, I put detailed CV online so that it's easy to improve it and to refer to it. The URL goes to 1-pager. Of about a dozen various sites and services I tried for online CVs my favorites are SO careers and LinkedIn.
Of these two, SO careers seems noticeably easier to design, maintain, backup and it's more er programmer friendly so to speak. The power of LinkedIn (CV-wise) is that one can learn how this stuff is done in others profiles. I learned a lot that way. Hint by the way: one doesn't need many connections to learn that way - just joining a group (eg stackoverflow group) allows to view and study profiles of group members.
- As for the buzzwords, well figuring when and how to use was tricky to me. But 1-pager exercises and learning from others profiles at LinkedIn helped here too.