Keeping Your Resume Short and Concise

Appropriate resume length

One of the most common misconception of resume writing is that a person’s entire professional history has to fit within one page of white paper; and while the resume length may seem to be a rather basic understanding of how to prepare and properly format a resume, the question which persists is, does everything have to be put on the same page? The truth is, you should present a well-written resume that is concise, and it should promote your qualifications in the best possible manner.

That having been said, if making the very best presentation is impossible to do on a single page, by all means, extend it to multiple pages with the appropriate consideration, depending on your career level. Understanding that resumes cannot be designed in a cookie cutter fashion where one size fits all, it may be helpful to adhere to a few guidelines when preparing your own resume. Here are some helpful tips:

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A few resume-shortening tips

Be concise – Being as concise as you possibly can is critical, and therefore you should avoid using lengthy sentences and paragraph forms to disclose your experience and education. Employers want straightforward statements that highlight your qualifications; so keep in mind that a resume is no place to showcase creative writing skills.

Perfect your resume – Since you have only a second or two to catch your potential employer’s attention, you must make sure that your resume is properly formatted, and you are not trying to fit too much copy on a single page of paper. Create appropriate and professional sections for your resume because your potential employer is more concerned with your resume content – and perhaps its look – than with its length.

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Longer is not better – When you don’t have the experience to meet your career objective, don’t try to embellish the resume with irrelevant information. If you are new to the job market, changing careers, or have had only one job, stick to a one page resume; and if you don’t have the experience to meet your career objective – for whatever reason – do not apologize for it, simply do your best to highlight your transferable skills, and stick to the “short and sweet” resume version.

Write enough to meet career objective

Unless you are applying for an executive-level job, or are composing curriculum vitae, your resume should not exceed two pages, because the purpose of a well-written resume is to sell yourself as the best candidate for the job with a confident and a straight-forward approach. Do not oversell your skills; and do not list more than three to five previous positions you’ve held. Stick to those skills and experiences that best meet the job requirements and your career objective.

The most relevant information has to be included on the first page, and the second page should be numbered, with your contact information included as well (just in case the pages are separated when printed, you don’t want your potential employer to discard the second page of your resume completely). If you find yourself going over two pages, review your resume and make sure that you are not including information that is irrelevant to your goals or to the position you are seeking.

Pages commensurate with history

Make sure that your professional history warrants a resume that is three pages or longer, before you start adding information that could be viewed as an attempt to embellish. As mentioned above, unless you are a senior- or executive-level professional, or you are composing curriculum vitae, your resume should not extend to over two pages; but if you have a longer resume, you will have to make sure that every statement on the resume is applicable to your career goals and objective.

If you have had decades of leadership experience for example, demonstrate that by using the reverse chronological resume style and only list those jobs that best qualify you for the position you are seeking. If you need to include an extensive list of publications or certifications, your resume can take up more than three pages; so make sure that the important information is still listed on the first page. This includes your career objective and professional profile, and your current or most recent professional experience. All subsequent pages should be numbered, and include your contact information in the heading.

Making Your Resume Uniquely Personalized

Of your resume’s uniqueness

In view of the fact that a resume is limited to only one or two-pages in length, and yet must summarize a person’s career objectives, professional experiences/achievements and educational background, very important that you present a well-written resume that is also well formatted and free of errors. What may be as important, however, is to make it stand out from resumes of other candidates; and to do so you should consider the information in your resume carefully and make sure that it is unique to you (uniquely yours?).

That having been said, the following suggestions are provided in the way of tips on how you can go about making your resume unique to you:

Customize your career objective

To best accomplish the customization of your career objective, you should think of your overall resume as a sales tool in which your career objective is your opening statement. You want your potential employer to know what you want, not just restate what other people say they want; so state your commitment to your career goal, because if you are unsure of what you want, how is your employer expected to believe that you really want the job at their organization, and not that you are just applying because you want to get out of your current work environment?

Don’t be afraid to state what you want from a job and from an organization, because while you want to state your commitment, you also want to show that you are willing to take action to achieve your goal. Indicate what direction or action you are willing to take in order to accomplish your career objective; and be specific about what you are looking for in a work situation.

functional and chronological resumes

While you can say that you are looking for a “challenging” environment, this doesn’t mean anything to your potential employer, as people define challenges in various ways. So avoid using generic terms that are too broad defined. Simply state what you want, and what you are willing to do to get it, and in most cases that will be enough to give any potential employer a good enough idea of who you are and what you want.

Highlight best elements of your experience

This may be the most commonly overlooked aspect of writing a resume; understanding of course, that the entire professional experience section on your resume is, and should be, unique to you so you should take advantage of that particular aspect. Also, try to use power words wherever you can to list your responsibilities, while making sure that you have a winning attitude with each statement.

Focus on those responsibilities that best describe the skills you acquired while in each job that make you the most qualified candidate for the position you are seeking; and quantify your responsibilities when possible to showcase to your potential employer that you are driven by results, and you are capable of exceeding goals; but don’t be shy about promoting your qualifications, because you earned them with your hard work and dedication.

Personalize your cover letter

The biggest mistake many professionals make is not spending enough time on their cover letter; but your cover letter should receive the same attention as your resume as they go hand-in-hand. Address your cover letter to the appropriate person at the company (contact info is typically listed in the job description); and make sure to mention what position you are applying for, while demonstrating how well the information in your resume aligns with the job requirements.

about resumes, cover letters and interviews

Your cover letter also allows you to address any information in your resume that may raise questions; so– take the time to do it right, as you don’t want your resume discarded because you chose not to create a uniquely personalized cover letter. Overall, make sure that your cover letter supports your resume and presents you as the most qualified candidate for the job.