While a longer resume may be merited if you’re applying for an executive-level position or have 20+ years of experience, for most people a one-page resume is sufficient. Any longer than that and you run the risk that the hiring manager won’t read the whole thing. If your resume is longer than a page, it’s likely bloated with information that you don’t need. Keep your resume to one page by tailoring it to the job you’re applying for, then editing that content so that it’s actionable, direct, and specific. If after that your resume is still more than a page long, try adjusting the formatting to see if you can get it to fit.
EditTailoring Your Resume to the Job
Eliminate items that aren’t relevant to the job you’re applying for. While you may be proud of a particular job experience or educational opportunity, it has no place on your resume if it has nothing to do with the job you’re applying for. You can cut a lot out of your resume by taking out everything that isn’t directly related to this employment opportunity.
For example, suppose you’re a recent graduate applying for a full-time job as a financial analyst. While in school, you worked as a parking attendant. However, since your work as a parking attendant is not relevant to the work you would do as a financial analyst, you can leave it out.
Some part-time jobs may have relevance, even if they aren’t in the same industry. Think about your job experiences critically. For example, if you’re applying for a job as a veterinary technician, it might be relevant that you worked as a pet groomer or pet sitter.
Your resume essentially markets you to the potential employer and shows them why you are a strong candidate for the job. You don’t need to include anything that doesn’t add to that message.
Highlight hard skills that set you apart from other applicants. Read the job listing carefully and look for hard skills that the employer requires or recommends that candidates have. List as many of those as possible on your resume.
Hard skills include certification or demonstrated proficiency in computer programming or operation, the ability to speak languages other than your first language, and office skills such as typing speed. Do not include soft skills, such as “leadership” or “team player.” Instead, show these qualities through the description of your accomplishments.
It can be tempting to list hard skills you don’t actually have. Be careful with this because it may come back to haunt you. Assume that, if hired, you will be asked to do anything included in the job listing as part of your job.
List relevant volunteer work in your “Experience” section. Work experience means work that you’ve done – not just work that you got paid for. Volunteer work or internships that are relevant to the job you’re applying for can help boost your resume, especially if you’re looking for an entry-level job.
For example, if you’re applying for a job as a veterinary technician, you would definitely want to include information about volunteering at your local animal shelter, zoo, or nature center.
If you have the space, you can leave in significant volunteer work even if it doesn’t directly relate to the job you’re applying for. This is a good idea if you’ve researched the employer and know they support particular causes related to your volunteer work.
Remove references unless required by the potential employer. A potential employer may ask you for references, but they generally aren’t necessary on a resume. Cutting them out can buy you a few lines. There’s also no need to include a sentence that says “references available upon request.”
If an employer does require references, you can often include them on a separate piece of paper, rather than including them on your resume.
Include hobbies and interests only if they’re relevant to the job. The section on hobbies and interests in any resume is typically fluff that can easily be removed if you’re trying to cut your resume down to one page. However, if they relate directly to the job you’re applying for, it’s a good idea to keep them in.
For example, if you play a sport in a community amateur league, you might want to keep that information on your resume if you’re applying for a job as a sports writer.
If you really need the space, you might include them as a line under your work experience section. Change the section heading to “Experience” rather than “Work Experience.”
Through your research, you may have discovered that you and the hiring manager have various hobbies or interests in common. In that situation, it’s tempting to leave them on your resume. However, it’s better to save them for the interview when you can strike up a conversation about your mutual interests.
Trim your “Education” section to relate specifically to the job. It may be that you’ve earned a degree or certificate that is entirely unrelated to the job you’re applying for. If that’s the case, simply list the degree and the school, but don’t include any additional detail.
If the degree isn’t required for the job, you can leave it off entirely. For example, if the job listing states that a bachelor’s degree is required, you would need to include your bachelor’s degree on your resume even if it was in a field of study unrelated to the job. However, if you had a higher degree, you could safely leave the bachelor’s degree off to save some space.
If you have a bachelor’s degree, you don’t need to include your high school education. The potential employer will realize that you have a high school diploma if you have a bachelor’s degree. However, you may want to leave it on if you went to an elite high school and you learned through research that the hiring manager graduated from the same school.
EditEditing Your Content
Delete the “Career Objective” section entirely. Standard resumes often have a “goal” or “career objective” section at the top. However, there’s really no point in having this section. If you’re applying for a job, it’s clear what your goal is.
Depending on the length of this section, removing it could give you an extra 3 to 5 lines that you can use for valuable content that sells your experience and value to the potential employer.
Make descriptions as specific as possible. For each work-related experience you’ve had, you likely have several lines describing your duties and accomplishments in that position. Instead of simply listing your responsibilities, state specifically how you implemented that duty or responsibility. This gives potential employers information about your soft skills.
For example, suppose in one of your previous jobs you created a training course called “Negotiation Tactics.” You’re now applying for a new position that requires extensive negotiation, and you want to highlight your expertise in that area as well as your leadership skills. You could write: Created “Negotiation Tactics” course; 10 sales executives increased sales by 25%.
Specific numbers draw the eye as a potential employer scans your resume and don’t take up a lot of space. For example, “Drafted 24 trial briefs” gives your potential employer far more information than simply saying that you drafted documents for senior attorneys. If you round or estimate, include a word such as “around” or “about” so the potential employer doesn’t get the impression you’re using an exact figure.
Remove redundant language and consolidate bullet points. Have each bullet point under experience or education items relate to a single skill or responsibility. If you see several bullet points that all relate to the same thing, keep only the most important ones and consolidate them into one bullet point.
For example, if you have a retail sales position listed on your resume, you might have a bullet point for responsibilities related to customer service and another for sales goals. If you had managerial responsibilities, you would likely have a third bullet point discussing your performance as a manager.
Read your bullet points aloud and note where you repeat words. For example, “Designed customer service training program to train coworkers to provide better customer service” could be shortened to simply “Designed customer service training program; satisfaction rating increased 18%.”
Avoid personal pronouns, articles, and most conjunctions. Writing in complete sentences takes up a lot of space and is generally unnecessary in a resume. Save your complete sentences for your cover letter. Use brief phrases separated by semi-colons.
Start bullet points with an action verb. Then, write a brief description of your action or responsibility. Place a semi-colon after that phrase, then include a brief description of the outcome of that action. For example, instead of writing “developed and implemented an email campaign that increased sales by 10% in 1 month,” you could write “developed/implemented email campaign; increased sales 10% in 1 month.”
You can often use punctuation instead of conjunctions, which will cut a few characters. For example, instead of writing “designed and conducted training program” you can write “designed/conducted training program.”
Use industry-standard abbreviations where appropriate. If an abbreviation is commonly used in your industry, there’s no need to spell it out. If you’re familiar with it, chances are a hiring manager will be too. Additionally, it will make your resume easier to read because abbreviations stand out.
For example, instead of talking about “point-of-sale transactions,” you can use “POS transactions.” The potential employer will likely understand what this abbreviation means, particularly if you’re applying for a job in the retail sector.
At the same time, avoid filling your resume with a lot of industry jargon that has a loose meaning. It can make you look as though you aren’t actually that knowledgeable and are simply throwing together industry buzzwords.
Cut adjectives and adverbs from your descriptions. Adjectives and adverbs generally indicate subjective information, and you want your resume to be as objective as possible. Instead of using adjectives and adverbs, try to find a way to demonstrate that thing with a brief description of the outcome of your action.
For example, instead of writing “Successfully trained 10 employees on new computer system,” you might write “Implemented training program; increased productivity by 38%.”
EditAdjusting Your Formatting
Decrease your font size to no less than 10-point. The default font size for most word processing applications is 12-point. If you’ve edited the content of your resume as much as possible and you still need to cut some space, consider lowering the font size to 10.5 or even 10. Avoid going any smaller than that, however, because it will make your resume hard to read.
Make all the text in your resume the same size, rather than having the names of employers or schools larger than the rest of the text.
If the labels or headings for the sections of your resume are larger than the rest of your text, you can also experiment with making them smaller. Try making them the same size as everything else.
Tighten up the line spacing. A good resume uses white space to break up text and allow for easy scanning. However, too much white space can push your resume over one page. You can adjust the line spacing in the text formatting menu on your word processing app.
Decrease line spacing by the smallest increment possible. Make sure your words don’t overlap and can still be read. You may want to print out your resume and see how it looks.
Cut your margins in half. Most word processing apps default to margins all the way around. However, you can typically get away with decreasing those margins to give more room for the text. Test your document by printing it before you send it to the potential employer to make sure it prints okay.
Particularly if you’re emailing your resume, there’s a good chance your resume will never be printed on paper. However, you still want to make sure it’s printable if necessary.
Experiment with multiple columns. Your word processing app defaults to a single column. However, it’s possible to create 2 or even 3 columns on a document. If you’re finding it difficult to get your resume down to a page, you may be able to use a 2 column or 3 column layout to get more information on the page.
If you want to use multiple columns, you’re better off starting a new document rather than simply converting the document you have. You’ll have an easier time arranging your information correctly.
Once you’ve finalized your resume, convert it to a PDF to preserve your formatting. That way, you can email it to the potential employer without worrying about your formatting getting ruined. Include your full name in the filename for the PDF.
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