A strong resume is essential to land the job you want. Typically, your resume includes your education, work experience, and any relevant skills, certifications, awards, and activities you might have. With so much information to highlight, it can be difficult to know what to include—and exclude. So, here are five tips for keeping your resume short but strong.
1. Keep It to One Page
When writing your resume, keep in mind that your resume should almost always be a one-page document (the only time it might be longer than one page is if you have more than a decade of relevant work experience, and even then one page is recommended). Recruiters don’t want to dig through two or three pages of experience and skills to see if you’re a good fit. The quicker you can leave the impression that you’re qualified for the role, the happier the person looking to hire you will be—because you’ll have taken up less of their already limited time.
2. Lists Are Your Friends
One of the easiest ways to ensure your resume is short and focused is to use bulleted lists. These lists allow you to highlight your experiences and skills in short phrases as opposed to full sentences. Recruiters and hiring teams are able to quickly absorb these lists to get a full picture of who you are. Don’t worry, you’ll have the chance to elaborate on your experiences using full sentences and paragraphs later, but that happens when it’s time for your cover letter (and, hopefully, your interview).
3. Focus on Strong Verbs
Starting each bullet point of your list with a strong, active verb is a great way to keep things short but powerful. Try starting each point with a verb that highlights your skills in one word such as “manage” or “correspond,” which will make your resume stronger than if you used “take care of” or “talked to.” Single-word verbs will resonate better with the reader than longer verb phrases that essentially make the same point but with a weaker punch.
4. Use Keywords
Job postings contain keywords specific to the roles you’re applying for, and it’s a good idea to include these words in your resume. Including words in a job description shows the hiring team that you did your homework and have a true interest in the role. Using keywords also helps when your resume needs to pass an applicant tracking system or any other resume scanner. Of course, you don’t want to overdo it with the keywords–only use those that make sense given your experience.
5. Clear the Clutter
Sticking to keywords can help you identify which words are useful and which words are only cluttering your resume. With only one page to highlight what makes you qualified for the role, each word you use must help show your potential employer why you deserve a chance—there’s no room for excess. For example, you don’t need to get across that you collaborated with a coworker who gave you advice that led to you making a sale, but you do need to get across that you’re capable of selling deliverables to clients.
Remember, there are time and places to expand on your capabilities and explain how your experiences have shaped you—in your cover letters and interviews—but when it comes to your resume, less is more.