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.