How long should your resume be? If you don't get their attention by the middle of the first page, the rest doesn't matter, so remember the "6-second rule": studies showing that the average hiring manager only scans a resume for about six seconds before deciding if the candidate might be a good fit for the role, so your resume only has about six seconds to make the right impression.
10 tips to trim a lengthy resume:
- Focus on What Really Matters: The top of your resume is prime real estate. Try to view your resume from the perspective of the hiring manager. You want your reader to see your fit for the position. Don't make them guess or interpret or read for more than six seconds.
- Target the Job: Eliminate irrelevant information. Keep your resume focused on the experience and accomplishments that have prepared you for THIS position. A good general resume can serve as a template to be customized and tweaked for different opportunities.
- Prioritize: Candidates with more years of experience are expected to have longer resumes, which can be an advantage, but can also lead to an overcrowded resume. Your most recent work experience is most important: the skills that are fine-tuned and ready for use today. Keep descriptions brief for positions you held more than 10-12 years ago.
- Eliminate Clutter: Too much information? You may be providing more information than needed. Focus on the skills, talents, and experience that are absolutely relevant to the position and the company.
- Avoid Overcrowding: Squeezing information together creates a terrible reading experience (especially for readers on mobile devices). White space is important. Avoid tiny fonts, razor-thin margins, stingy line spacing. long paragraphs, and large blocks of text. Without white space, all of the content blends together and nothing stands out.
- Simple is Better: Simple formatting is easier to read. Use traditional fonts. Use white space strategically to make key details stand out. It's also wise to skip on borders, shading, underlining, columns, and even italics.
- Use Keywords: Resume keywords are usually associated with systems that scan resumes, but hiring managers also look for keywords. (Again, remember the "6-second rule".) Keywords can often be found in the job description. Refer to it when writing and refining your resume so that you do not inadvertently miss or remove one of these critical words.
- Be Precise: Review your resume with a ruthless eye and eliminate unnecessary words. Keep sentences short and to the point. Be selective about adjectives and adverbs and look for repetitive and redundant phrases. Don't speak in the first-person. (Eliminate "I" and "me".)
- Use Bullet Points Efficiently: Bullets make your text easier to scan and focus attention. However, bullet points take up a lot of space. Consider moving the bullet flush with the text of other lines - this is especially helpful with long, multi-lined bullet points.
- Avoid Redundancy: Redundancy is a huge waste of space. It's a particular challenge when you have held multiple positions within the same company, Rather than listing each position as a new job, list the company once and then list the highest level of responsibility first, followed by previous positions held within the same company in reverse chronological order.
Finally, never underestimate the power of proofreading. Even better, ask someone you trust to take an objective look for you. Often, a third party will spot things we miss. We see what we meant to say and they see what's really there.
So, how long should a resume be? Be concise and focus on what's important to the position and to the company. There may not be a perfect formula to follow, but keeping your resume short and to the point is the key, especially when you remember the 6-Second Rule.