Many job seekers make the mistake of sending out resumes that are three or more pages in length while applying for job openings. If your document is overly abundant, it may hurt your application. Hiring managers have limited time to spend on each resume they receive, and you’re less likely to make a positive impression if there’s too much information on the page. Cutting down your document to an acceptable length can be difficult as this might mean eliminating valuable information from your work history. Throughout this guide, we’ll provide insights to help you trim down your document effectively while preserving the most compelling aspects of your professional experience.
How Long Is Too Long?
The length of the resume is a common question for applicants during the job search process. The standard rule is that a resume should never exceed two pages, regardless of the years of experience. Although there are some exceptions, you should follow this rule in most cases.
Keep in mind that the hiring manager has limited time to spend on each resume they receive and that providing a four- or five-page document might be a turn-off. Instead, you’ll want to give a concise yet compelling document that captures your most substantial career achievements and skill sets.
How to Shorten Your Resume
Shortening your resume requires that you prioritize content based on impact and relevance to the position you’re applying for. If an achievement doesn’t match the job description, you’ll want to ask yourself two things. Does this accomplishment demonstrate other qualities the company is looking for, such as people management or leadership skills? Is the achievement objectively impressive? If the answer is no, you should remove it. However, you’ll want to think this through carefully, as you wouldn’t want to eliminate a multi-million-dollar project you worked on simply because it was from a different type of industry. Take the time to assess the overall impact of each bullet point and whether it truly captures the hiring manager’s eye.
1. Remove Outdated Content
Hiring managers typically decide on candidates based on the experience featured on the first page of the resume, so you’ll want to focus on enhancing the quality of your most recent positions. If you held a position 20 years ago in a different space, you’re okay to either remove the job or list it without bullet points on the resume. Depending on the situation, preserving your professional timeline may be worthwhile, as this will provide prospective employers with a complete overview of your career. Consider creating an Additional Work Experience section on your document if you plan to include jobs without bullet points. This strategy will help you save space while maintaining your professional timeline.
2. Change Your Template and Font Size
Using an efficient template that wastes page space is often the cause of an overly long resume. In many cases, simply transferring your content to a new template that uses a more traditional top-down design can significantly shorten the length of your document. For instance, if you’re using a template that incorporates unnecessary graphics and large borders, this may be the different source of why your resume is exceeding the recommended two-page length. The resume focuses on showcasing your achievements and professional experience, so using a more straightforward template is okay if it helps you preserve more of your content.
3. Avoid Paragraphs and Long-Winded Bullet Points
You’ll need to aggressively edit your resume to ensure that your document meets the acceptable length requirements. If your document contains lengthy paragraphs, you may want to consider cutting them down and reorienting the content into concise bullet points. As a rule, a bullet point should never exceed three lines, and you’ll want to keep them to two or less whenever possible. Less is more on the resume, and you’ll improve your chances of landing the interview if your content is straightforward and to the point.
4. Limit Your Associations and Volunteerism
While associations and volunteerism can be helpful to add to your document, you should never prioritize them over relevant achievements from your professional experience. Unless the association is significant within your industry, you’ll want to consolidate and remove this information from your resume to create more space for your work history. One thing to consider is that you can include this information on LinkedIn instead, as most hiring managers tend to review candidate profiles prior to requesting an interview.
5. Avoid Repetitive Bullet Points
As you build your resume content, you’ll want to analyze your bullet points carefully to eliminate redundancies. While there may be some cases where you want to reinforce a particular skill set across multiple positions, you’ll want to try and create as many unique bullet points as possible to showcase different aspects of your professional experience for the hiring manager.
If you notice that two bullet points are providing similar details, you may want to consider combining them or omitting one of them from your document to create space for other content.
6. Hire a Resume Writer
Using the services of a professional resume writer can help identify the ideal content to include on your document. Job seekers are often too close to their resumes, limiting their ability to evaluate the content objectively. Seeking help from a professional editor specializing in career consulting can be extremely useful in creating a concise yet compelling resume for the job hunt. For more information on editing services, see our list of the top resume writing companies throughout the U.S.
Build an Accomplishment Driven Resume
Building a resume that focuses on your professional achievements rather than your job responsibilities is the key to generating traction during the job search. By limiting your content to accomplishments and omitting mundane job duties, you can create a much tighter document that guides the reader’s eye towards your most impressive qualifications. Remember that you have a limited window of opportunity to grab the hiring manager’s attention, and your chances of making a positive impression are much greater if your document isn’t cluttered with unnecessary information.