What is the best resume length?
In all seriousness, you probably know that a six-page resume wouldn’t pass the acceptability test. No one would want to read it or even make the effort to start. However, too many otherwise intelligent and experienced job seekers make the mistaken assumption that three or four pages are fine, without trying to create a more concise resume.
What Brevity Means to Your Resume–and Job Search
Shakespeare once said that “brevity is the soul of wit.” We might safely think he meant that burying your meaning in a flood of words doesn’t demonstrate its value or make it interesting to others.
What’s at least as important, though, is that when you make your resume much longer than it has to be, you alienate the people you most need to impress–potential employers. Indirectly, you could even extend the length of your job search by submitting an inflated resume to targeted employers, a result you definitely do not want.
Clarify, Don’t Obscure
You might also want to consider whether the long resume you’ve developed does anything to communicate the most essential message–your value to employers. The more details you include and the more words you use to present them, the less likely you are to make the desired impression readers–assuming they try to read the resume at all.
So the question I have for you is this: Do you actually know what your most desirable qualities and qualifications are in today’s job market? And also, have you made the value both clear and compelling in your resume, without using unnecessary words?
“When required to be brief, for example, we gain clarity about what we really mean–or have to offer.” (Kare Anderson, Mutuality Matters)
Tips for a More Concise and Impressive Resume
I don’t have space to go into exhaustive detail (and this is, after all, a post about brevity!). However, here are a few tips to condense your over-long resume while increasing its effectiveness with employers:
- Research your targeted employers and jobs thoroughly before submitting. Zero-in on what’s most likely to attract attention and interest.
- Examine your existing resume with ruthless attention to what can and should be omitted–and carry through with deleting whatever doesn’t add significant value.
- Double-check that the value message you must communicate comes through loud and clear. If it doesn’t, start sharpening the focus and pruning whatever doesn’t justify taking up space!
- Remember that employers are busy people who, in effect, have the attention-span of a two-year-old child.
- Stick to the point. Side excursions into the fascinating (to you) details of each phase of your career won’t entice employers to read your resume.
BONUS TIP: Imagine that you will be charged $1 for every word you include in your resume. Which ones would you quickly start eliminating?