Resumes & Cover Letters

How To Shorten Your Resume

March 3, 2021

Shortening your resume can increase readability and make it easier for the hiring manager to understand your qualifications. Regardless of the job you're applying for, the size of your resume has a direct impact on its efficiency. Knowing how to keep your resume short without excluding any important parts is a valuable skill. In this article, we discuss why shortening your resume is useful and provide ways in which you can do so.

Why is it important to shorten your resume?

Your resume is usually the first impression that a hiring manager gets of you after you apply for a job. Although it's important to list all your educational and professional milestones along with skills that are relevant to the job you are applying for, overly long resumes generally get less attention than succinct, one-page resumes. The reasons for this are usually related to the hiring manager's time and attention span, as most open positions receive a high number of applications.

Because of this, knowing how to keep your resume as short as possible without taking out any part that would improve the odds of you getting the job is an important skill.

Related: Resume Basics: Types of Resumes, Examples and Tips

How to shorten a resume

Here are several ways in which you can shorten your resume without eliminating any important information:

1. Eliminate content that is not specifically relevant to the job you are applying for

Your resume should be edited depending on the characteristics of a particular job or field. Before submitting it, you should objectively review every section and cut out all information that is not directly related to the job you are applying for. Although leaving out important academic achievements and professional experiences may be difficult, the result should be a cleaner and easier-to-read document that can improve your chances of getting the job.

2. Reduce your page margins

Most resumes need to fit on a single page for maximum efficiency, and a good way to gain more space is by trimming the page margins. Only leaving half an inch on all sides keeps your resume looking well-organized and offers you significantly more text space than the standard one- or two-inch margins.

Related: Resume Borders: How To Use Margins on Your Resume

3. Combine multiple sections

Every section requires a heading, which takes up a lot of space. You can avoid that by finding ways in which you can combine multiple sections. Ideally, a resume should only have three or four sections. A good way to do so without sacrificing relevant content is by creating separate sections for professional experience and education and then fitting all the remaining information, such as skills, achievements and interests, into a general section with a name like “Additional information.”

4. Keep contact information to a minimum

If you are applying for a job that is reasonably close to the area where you currently live, you should list your city and state on the resume. If the job you are applying for is in a different geographical area, you may want to consider not listing your current location. Not only does this save page space, but it also eliminates any potential fears that the hiring manager may have regarding your willingness to relocate.

5. Only list accomplishments when describing previous jobs

Many resumes have thorough and lengthy descriptions of professional duties at previous jobs. While these details can be relevant, you should instead focus on your main achievements at previous jobs and discuss the specifics of your role during the job interview in order to save space.

Related: Elements of a Good Resume

6. Make your objective statement as short as possible

Objective statements are important, as they are usually the first thing a hiring manager sees when browsing through a resume. However, making them too long can take up too much space and diminish their impact. Be as objective as possible and succinctly describe how your skills and experience can help you excel at the position you are currently applying for.

7. Use bullet points

Bullet points keep your resume short and make information easier to read. Unlike paragraphs, which are lengthier and require more attention from the reader, bullet points allow you to communicate in a succinct and straightforward way, helping the hiring manager quickly understand what you are trying to communicate and keeping the resume within a single page.

8. Avoid listing overly common skills

When creating a resume, it's tempting to list any skill and quality that you possess and may be considered relevant for the hiring manager. However, if one or more of your skills are common among potential applicants for that position, adding them to your resume may be unnecessary. A good example of that is adding proficiency in common office computer software.

9. Use statistics whenever possible

Numbers are great for your resume, as they offer the reader precise information without taking up too much space. Instead of describing a previous professional achievement, try to show the statistics behind it, as it will have a bigger impact while being more effective.

10. Use keywords

Most large companies receive very high numbers of job applications and have to use special software to filter out the irrelevant ones. When deciding on what to keep in your resume, carefully analyze the job posting for any keywords that give out indications regarding what the resume screening software will look for in a viable candidate. Then, instead of including lengthy pieces of information, create shorter sentences using those keywords.

11. Use an online resume builder

A standard resume builder can help you eliminate unnecessary information. Start writing your resume with the help of the resume building software and, when it's done compare it to one that you already have. If the resume builder didn't add some information that's included in your original resume, consider removing that information on your resume.

Related: Resume Design Elements and Styles: How To Choose the Best for Your Resume

12. Have someone else review your resume before submitting it

Sometimes an outsider's opinion can help when deciding what is relevant and what can be left out of your resume. Consider asking a career coach or a friend to look over your resume and tell you if there are areas that can be shortened.

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