How Long Should my Resume Be? Part II

In Part I, we gave the general rule-of-thumb that a resume should be no more than 2-3 pages.

If you have a few years of work experience and struggle to get your resume past one page, there are many suggestions in Part I which can help you out.

This post looks at what to do to trim a long resume down to size.

How to make a long resume shorter

It’s time to do a bit of spring cleaning to really focus what your resume says about you.

First, remove some of those old work listings (babysitting in high school, really?). Skills and experiences can become outdated in the same way you forget a language you don’t often speak. Keep your work section fresh and current by removing those old jobs.

Similarly, remove work descriptions that don’t fit with the job you are applying to. Your years of lifeguarding simply don’t translate to that sales position you are applying for.

If you really don’t like the idea of removing jobs from your work history, or are worried about large gaps in your employment, then list the job title, dates and company with no description.

For example, if you are applying to a sales job, consider which aspects of your retail experience will help you with that, instead of generalizing the skills you learned.

Sections you can remove from your resume

The objective statement. These are generally considered outdated and unhelpful by many, as objective statements are so similar, vague, and do not give any real insight. You are an exception only if your objective is truly exceptional: such as making a huge career change. Remember that your cover letter can include this information as well.

Most or all of those ‘skills’ at the top of your resume.  Technical knowledge of common software should not be here (unless your jobs requires being an expert at them). For example, remove ‘microsoft word’ and ‘powerpoint’ from your list of skills. Likewise, generic soft skills such as ‘communication’ or ‘team player’ are not adding value. Instead, incorporate them into your work experience section.

See this article by Donna Svei on the AvidCareerist for an interesting take on the skills section. She writes,

“When you include a standalone Skills section on your resume, your readers see claims for your skills and experience, but no context. Lack of context causes all but the most naïve reader to feel skeptical about what you have written.

They might even wonder if you just pulled keywords out of their job posting and plopped them into your resume.”

References. Save providing contact details for after an interview; no employer should be calling your references before they have met you. You can include the line “References available upon request” but even this is unnecessary.

Your GPA. Unless you have an extremely high GPA and you are in a field where sharing such information is common, do not include this on your resume. Whether for your overall degree, or a particular course, a GPA does not hold any meaning once you are in the workforce. There are very few fields that are exceptions to this rule.

Listing ‘stay at home parent’ under your work experience. It’s undeniable that this is a lot of work, but it’s simply not the same as a paid job: there is no one managing you or holding you accountable to a certain level of quality. No one can be a reference for you. Being a parent is a natural part of human existence, and spending time being a good one does not inherently make you a better employee.