"How can I tell when my resume is too long?" It’s a question many job seekers ask themselves. While longer resumes may be useful for specific professions such as in education and academia, most employers and job search experts will tell you to keep your resume under two pages. However, for best results, your resume should be just one page.
There are several reasons why this is true. One-page resumes are often better targeted, and force you to be more decisive about what you include. Also, recruiters only spend a few seconds to scan yours before getting a first impression, which means they’ll only get to the second page if you’ve written a terrific first page. So, why not just stick with that first page on its own?
You may be thinking, “That’s all well and good, but I have no idea what to remove. Everything I included is essential, and every detail will help employers to better understand what I have to offer. For example, I shouldn’t trim my accomplishments, right?”
Yes, actually, you might want to trim that section, but we’ll get to that later in the article.
Editor's note: If you are having trouble writing a resume that is the appropriate length, try a professional resume builder. Our resume builder is designed to help job seekers create a well-organized, well-written document in a matter of minutes.
Here are six easy steps you can take if your resume is too long, These tips will help you trim the fat while still having it present you in the best light.
1. Change templates
Some resumes are too long simply because the design uses images, tables, or lots of whitespace, which leaves less room for the text. Other resume layouts force the text into narrower margins than in a standard Word document.
Switch to a resume template with a minimalistic design. Choose one that uses style elements selectively to make the document more readable and professional-looking as a whole, while also providing plenty of space for you to highlight your abilities.
For example, look for a design where your with a header that is one to two lines at most. Sure, your contact information is critical to include but don’t use valuable real estate on a large, fancy header. LiveCareer offers a selection of resume templates that can help you create a well-designed resume that is appropriate for your industry.
2. Link to a longer version
Great resumes tempt their readers to want to know more about you, which will entice them to invite you to the interview table. That said, few recruiters will pick up the phone right after their six-second resume scan. Instead, they’ll dive deeper into the resume and head online for more information about you and your background.
By providing a link to a longer version of your resume, such as a personal website, LinkedIn profile, or other online CV, you can limit your resume to only the most relevant content while still directing recruiters to a place where they can get more.
3. Remove unnecessary content
If your resume is too long, there’s a good chance it contains information recruiters don’t really care about.
Does your resume include an objective? Delete it. Resume objectives are outdated only a good idea when asking friends to forward it people who may not know what kind of job you’re looking for.
Is there a profession summary statement on your resume? Whisk it away. While some experts disagree with me on this topic, your most recent work successes will usually speak louder to recruiters and hiring managers than an all-encompassing personal branding statement.
Did you include the biggest pet peeve of recruiters and write that your “references are available on request?” Get rid of it! It is a assumed that you have references and if a recruiter wants to see your references, they will ask for them.
Keeping in mind that you can always add back information later, cut anything that isn’t directly relevant to the job you’re applying for, especially if it isn’t work-related. This includes volunteering, academics, certain skills, and personal interests.
While longer resumes may be useful for specific professions such as in education and academia, most employers and job search experts will tell you to keep your resume under two pages. However, for best results, your resume should be just one page.
4. Tighten your work history
One thing that makes a resume too long is having a comprehensive, reverse chronological work history that documents every position you’ve held since college.
Instead, try this: list only three positions. Just three. Focus on the recent jobs and employers that are most directly relevant to the company’s needs and business model, while removing previous positions.
For this step, you’ll need to do some research. Visit the company website to learn about their culture, mission, latest news and get a better understanding how the job you want fits into the bigger picture.
5. Focus on accomplishments
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 describing the minutia of your past role.
Instead, provide at most one line to describe your role and then create three to four bullet points listing your greatest accomplishments while you held this job. Daily tasks aren’t that interesting but metrics are. Employers would rather find out about the impact of your work and how you went above and beyond the minimum required effort.
If your resume is too long even after you’ve completed these five steps, or if you find them too daunting, there’s one more thing you can do.
6. 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 slice and cut without hesitation.