Editing Your Resume Down to One Page
With your resume being the first impression that you make on a potential employer, it seems logical to put it all out there and include every piece of information that they could conceivably need in order to make a hiring decision… Right? Wrong. Even though as candidates we want to overwhelm hiring managers with our awesomeness, a resume is not the space to provide an elaborate explanation detailing every career move that you have made- that is what interviews are for. The purpose of a resume is to give employers a one page document detailing the education, skills, experience and accomplishments that make you qualified to work for them. They simply need to know how likely you are to be successful in the position they are hiring for.
What they don’t want, need, or have time for, is reading the entire story of your career in the form of a resume. So if you notice that your resume is creeping past that one page mark, start making cuts. It may be painful, but is a necessary step to ensure that your resume doesn’t automatically land in the “thanks but no thanks” pile.
If you are finding it particularly difficult to edit your resume down from a novel to one page, keep the following in mind:
- If it isn’t relevant, cut it.
Even the most linear career path will have it’s own unique experiences, making it easy to go off track while writing your resume. As tempting as it is to include those more unique experiences in the hopes of catching a hiring manager’s eye, stick to material that is relevant to the specific position you are applying for and leave the narrative and interesting tidbits for the interview.
- Keep keywords.
Use your sleuthing skills to scour the job posting for keywords that have already been deemed important enough to communicate. These keywords can enhance your resume’s visibility as many companies require candidates to submit resumes online so that they can run them through programs that filter out resumes based on keywords. Don’t be afraid of taking your sleuthing to the next level by researching keywords that are specific to an industry or position to include on your resume as well.
- Focus on accomplishments, not descriptions.
While writing and editing your resume, it can be easy to start listing everything that your previous jobs entailed, essentially reconstructing previous job descriptions. In the interest of space, focus instead on what you accomplished while you were in those positions. This is one way to pack a punch in the limited space that a resume provides.
- Cut out the obvious.
I’ll cut to the chase… It is an expectation that you know how to use programs like Microsoft Office, rendering it a waste of valuable space to include it on your resume.
- Seek a second opinion.
Always get a second opinion on your resume, regardless of length, as errors in spelling and grammar may dissuade an employer from selecting you to continue on for an interview. However, it is especially important to seek a second (or third) opinion if you just can’t seem to limit the length of your resume to one page. Sometimes, we are too close to our previous job experience to be able to look back through our career objectively, making requesting (and graciously receiving) constructive feedback a crucial step in the resume editing process.
Although it may feel counter intuitive, less is more in regards to resumes. Rather than writing the narrative of your career, focus on the highlights and accomplishments that make you the most qualified candidate for the job.