Having trouble fitting your resume onto one page? You’re not alone. Many people have a hard time summarizing their qualifications and accomplishments on a single piece of paper — how are you supposed to account for years of experience in just a few bullet points? Trust us, if you have fewer than 10 years of experience, there’s always a way to do it, and it’s essential that you learn how. When you're first starting out, no one is going to take you seriously if you submit a two page resume, since you don't have enough experience to warrant it. Even if you do have 10+ years of experience, you shouldn't exceed two pages and unless you're going for executive-level roles, it's best to keep it to one. Hiring managers are busy — they don’t want to read too much text, and they’re definitely not going to bother with a resume that’s too long. So how do you get your resume down to a manageable length?
1. Change the formatting. An economical resume format is going to help you maximize the amount of space you have to present your professional experience. If you’re running out of room, use a format that allows you to extend your bullet points all the way across the page, and try to fit them on one line if possible (we love pretty, one line bullet points!). You can also list your contact info horizontally at the top of the page, instead of stacking each line vertically. Another strategy is to increase your margins, but be careful not to overdo it — if your margins are .4, it’s a sign that your resume is probably too wordy. Shoot for .7, and try not to go much smaller than that. And leave off unnecessary graphics.
2. Write concisely. While formatting can definitely be a factor in an overly lengthy resume, for most people, it’s not the biggest obstacle. More often, we encounter resumes with far too much text. Your experience shouldn’t be described in dense paragraphs, nor should your bullet points be 3-4 lines long. Get rid of unnecessary adjectives, and leave out articles — no need to write in complete sentences. Make sure you're not being repetitive; look for ways to consolidate your bullet points whenever possible. Also, be careful only to share quantifiable results when they're very impressive and pertinent — too many numbers will make your resume hard to read. And you don't need to list intangible skills like "people person" and "meets deadlines" anywhere on your resume. If you wrote your bullets properly, that's already clear.
3. Only include relevant experience. As we’ve said many times before, your resume needs to tell a story, and that story is why you’re qualified for the particular job you’re applying for. You don’t need to share a list of everything you’ve ever done with the hiring manager — focus on the more relevant experiences and skills that will convince the employer you’re right for the job. We often see candidates who list every job or internship they’ve ever held on their resumes, but this is unnecessary. Unless you need to explain a gap in your resume timeline or have limited work experience, you can leave off your side gig at Nordstrom and your random internships and college clubs that have nothing to do with the industry. Then, look at the bullet points you’ve listed under each position. If you have six or seven bullets to describe a single role, you’re not being specific enough. Shoot for 3-4 bullet points in each section (fewer if it’s a position from many years ago that isn’t as relevant), but don’t include more than five. Again, select those responsibilities that translate most to the new position. You want your resume to mimic the job posting as much as possible, and that’s how you should determine what bullet points to include.
If you’ve followed all our tips and are still having trouble with your resume length, get a second set of eyes on it. Share with a friend for some feedback, or better yet, let us help you! It’s easy to start feeling precious about your proudest accomplishments or most interesting job responsibilities, but sometimes they simply don’t matter. Another person’s objective opinion will help you narrow down what’s most important.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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