Most employers and job search experts generally advise applicants to keep their resumes under the length of two full pages. Longer resumes and CVs may be useful for specific professions in education and academia, but for most industries, one to two pages will suffice.
But no matter how often this tip is passed along, job seekers often respond in a similar way: “that’s well and good, but my resume is three pages long and I have no idea what to remove. Every word is essential, and every detail will help employers understand what I have to offer. I shouldn’t trim my accomplishments, right?”
There are several ways around this thorny, classic job-search problem. These simple moves will help you trim down your resume so it’s readable and presents you in the best possible light.
1. Start over.
Head back to the top of the page and start the process from scratch. Instead of picking at your text, removing one word, and editing one sentence at a time, just open a new document.
We’ve all had the experience of painting a “happy birthday” banner and realizing that we haven’t reached the first “P” and we’re already halfway across the page. Avoid this problem by backing up, thinking for a moment, getting out a fresh blank banner, and drawing a much smaller “H.”
2. Focus on the summary.
What can you do? Plenty of things. What do you WANT to do? A complete answer might take hours. But try this—instead of using your resume summary to list every single talent you bring your potential employer, choose the top three. Then make sure your three talents align perfectly with what this company needs and what the position requires. Let the other ones go, and turn your summary into a quick, hard-hitting, three-part message.
3. Rearrange your work history.
Instead of comprehensive, chronological work history that documents every position you’ve ever held, starting with the most recent, try this: list three positions. Just three. Focus on the jobs and employers that bear the most relevance to this company’s needs and business model.
In order to take this step, you’ll need to complete a little research. Start by carefully examining the job post and then visiting the company website to glean what you can about the culture, the mission, and way this job fits into the bigger picture.
4. Focus on accomplishments, not responsibilities.
Your potential employers may not know exactly what you did every day when you held a job as an “associate solutions provider” or “an accounts designation expert.” But you don’t need to use precious resume space to answer this question. Instead, provide one line (if you feel it’s absolutely necessary), and then create three to four bullet points listing your greatest accomplishments while you held this job. Daily tasks aren’t that interesting—employers would rather find out how you went above and beyond the minimum.
5. Get aggressive resume editing help.
Sometimes the best way to delete your “darlings”—those precious words, phrases, and claims you just can’t part with—is to hand your resume over to someone else. Choose a person with cold eyes and a steady hand who will cut without hesitation.
If your friends aren’t up to the task or they don’t have the language skills you need, use the editing and streamlining tools on LiveCareer and take that bulky resume down to size.