This is a great question that’s also a common concern among candidates.
Everyone who has written a resume knows that the real challenge is to convey a compelling picture of your experience while also being concise. Remember, a Hiring Manager or Recruiter isn’t going to necessarily read your resume right away, they’re going to scan it to find relevant information. If they like what they see, they’ll then go back and have a closer read to decide if you should be brought in for an interview.
Key message: if you hand in a resume that’s too long or too wordy, it might not get read fully.
Here’s the truth: Recruiters spend only about 6 to 7 seconds to scan a resume.
Here’s what you need to know – no matter who you are or what level of experience you have, the general rule of thumb is to do your absolute best to stay under two pages. If you’re a student, new graduate, or have less than 7 years of work experience, make one page your goal!
Your resume isn’t only a description of your expertise, it’s also an example of your communication skills. Being able to express yourself clearly, concisely, and compellingly is in huge demand right now, and if your resume is more than two pages than you risk giving off the impression that you’re not great at synthesizing and paring down information.
I know that staying under two pages isn’t easy for a lot of professionals, so to help you out, here are three tips to help you cut irrelevant content!
1. Emphasize the requirements you found in the job posting.
With a limit on how much you can write, you have to make sure that what you include screams ‘IDEAL CANDIDATE’ right off the bat. This means incorporating relevant functional keywords, experience, and action verbs that relate to the role you’re applying to. Great news: these can all be found by taking a close read of the job posting! The key here is to translate those requirements to benefits statements of how you add value to the organization.
2. Less is more.
The art of impactful communication in resumes is to package what you have to say into manageable soundbites that convey your experience but don’t list every single detail. I recommend having no more than five bullet points for each role you’ve held and to limit each of these to three lines of text or less. Some key ares to include: your experience, education, volunteer work, and awards. Challenge yourself to pare down your stories to get to the core message!
3. Revise, revise, revise!
When you review your resume, consider the question: am I including this because it’s relevant to the role I’m applying to, or because it’s stroking my ego? Resumes are about selling yourself, and most importantly, proving that you can add value to your target organization. Talking about that time you ran a marathon (although impressive!) can be cut if you need more space to convey your relevant expertise. My top tip: send your resume to a friend along with the job posting you’re targeting. They’ll be better able to objectively cut your content and check for grammar.
Need more resume writing help? Check out my Writing Service, where you can partner with me and a Certified Professional Resume Writer to create compelling, marketable resumes, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles that will get you hired!
Diana YK Chan, MBA