I realize it may be too much to ask if you’re currently seeking paid employment, but a little bit of empathy does go a long way. Imagine being the one tasked with assessing hundreds and hundreds of resumes per week, if not per day. You will not be winning yourself any special favors if your resume is overly-wordy.
Don’t worry about one vs. two pages. That debate is useless. If you have so much relevant content that, when written, it takes up more than a single page, then so be it. But conciseness is key. So let me provide a few suggestions on how to telescope your resume, section-by-section, without losing any oomph.
Get all those generic self-descriptors out of there! If you want to communicate that you’re “detail-oriented” then you best make sure your resume is error-free; otherwise, don’t write such in your objective statement. Besides, practically everyone says that about him/herself, thereby rendering “detail-oriented” and all other soft-skill buzz-words as nothing more than space-eaters. By the way, if you have 10+ years of experience, and are not a career-changer, you do not need an objective statement on your resume; a smartly written summary or profile should make clear what your current goal is.
Does any hiring official need to know about the six-month job you held in 2003? Doubtful. And is the work you did in the ‘70s and ‘80s (or even early ‘90s) still technically and operationally relevant? Have you not achieved that and so much more since then? In most cases, you can delete these stints from your experience section or at least minimize them. This will save significant space that you can better use to share details of more recent and relevant positions held.
If it’s obvious that you have used MS Office software in your previous jobs (e.g., your experience section mentions use of spreadsheets; scheduling meetings; designing slides; etc.), and if these are your only software/technical skills, then there’s no reason to have a skills section at all.
Education, Training & Certificates
In some cases, these sections can be collapsed, thus saving you space that would have been taken up by two “extra” section headers.
Community Service / Volunteer Activities
Yes, such virtuous donations of your time may seem a nice selling point to list on your solicitation but unless a) your volunteer work is super-relevant to your professional endeavors, b) your volunteer experience occupies an otherwise empty space in your work history, or c) you hold a leadership role within an organization where you volunteer, it’s likely not a make-or-break addition to your document.
Watch your bullet indenting; too much and, all of a sudden, content that should be taking up one line is taking up two.
OK, that’s short enough!
Here are a few shortening tactics that are counter-productive and should be avoided.
You can get away easier with smaller (space-making) top-bottom margins than with left-right margins (your page keeps better perspective), but beware: shrink your margins too small and MS Word will “force” your reader to resize them before printing. Not cool. You certainly can’t afford the gall to give to any HR person a work assignment just to be able to print and share your document.
There’s no doubt, if you shrink your font to 8-pt Arial, you can get your resume fitting on one page…one page that’s fit for the trash can (no, not even worthy of the recycle bin!). Tiny font sizes, condensed and narrow fonts, and even some sans serif fonts in general will make your resume too difficult to read. If your reader has to squint…if your document looks like a headache in the making, then no one will read it.
Don’t use them unless you’re certain your target reader knows what they stand for; and certainly don’t make them up (e.g., Exp., Mgr., Mgmt.) in order to save a few characters of space.
In short (ha ha…get it?): it’s far better to offer a shorter document that “breathes” than a jam-packed application that’s wordy, ugly and that no one will even look at, let alone read.