Tame My Resume From Long and Shaggy to Short and Chic

When it comes to resumes, longer is rarely better. In today's fast-paced world, hiring managers generally spend less than 15 seconds looking at a resume. They want to be able to see your key differentiators quickly, and they will rarely look past page two to find the information they need. So how do you keep your resume concise without sacrificing clarity or quality? Here are some common resume problems that can result in a document that is too long and some recommended fixes..


A long job history

If you've been working for 20 years or more, it can seem like a difficult task to craft a resume that is only two pages. But this can be accomplished without sacrificing the quality or accuracy of the document. One strategy is to create a separate category for all employment experiences that are more than 15 years old and group them in a section labeled Early Career Experience or Additional Experience.This section allows you to summarize early experience in just a few sentences and save space for more recent and relevant information.

Additional Experience

Prior executive leadership experience with XYZ Company as Vice President of Sales (1990 to 1996) and five year career with ABC Corporation progressing in various sales, sales management, and corporate marketing positions.


Multiple temporary or consulting assignments

If you have worked multiple assignments during a short period of time, your resume can become confusing for your reader, and the short gigs can make you look like a job-hopper at first glance. To remedy this, create a category called Temporary Assignments or Consulting Assignments and give an overview of the highlights of the experience rather than listing the details of each.

HR Consultant, various assignments 2008 to present

XYZ Company. For global technology solutions company, selected to create U.S. recruitment strategy for division representing 1,500 employees in six offices. Trimmed recruiting budget (projected savings of 25-50%) using non-fee, referral, and social media recruitment strategies. Recruited team to support $17M in new business.

ABC Company. Developed the business strategy and execution plan for an alternative candidate sourcing model that minimized agency costs and leveraged online networking and employee referral programs to deliver $100K in savings in first 5 months of implementation. Also developed and revised employee handbooks for Baine Co. and Matthews & Associates.


Too much information about job tasks

Resumes can become unruly if you include long lists of job responsibilities followed by long lists of accomplishments. To prune your document, create a paragraph of no more than 5 or 6 sentences to explain your job tasks and only bullet your key accomplishments. This strategy will save space and allow your reader to focus on your most important achievements.

Created the strategic direction and execution plans to support large scale corporate events and product launches. Oversee all pre and on-site communications and advertising, media planning, exhibit construction, invitation management, VIP hospitality, sponsor management, and exhibit construction. Manage relationships with 5 advertising agencies. Budget: $10M; Staff: 3 direct reports, 10 indirect reports

  • Recognized with Marketing Award in 2010 for orchestrating the company's most successful campaign at the country's premier sports event while trimming event costs by 10%.
  • Project-managed product marketing campaign at an international ski resort resulting in 30,000 qualified leads in just 3 months and a 5% conversion rate.


Dedicating equal space to every job experience

Just because you've held seven jobs over the course of your career doesn't mean you should dedicate the same amount of space to each job. Focus on relevance and generally spend more time explaining more recent positions than those held earlier in your career.


Poor use of white space and fonts

Sometimes resumes become too long because of poor decisions about design. Don't create margins that exceed one inch on any side, and use a font of either 10 or 11 points.

Your Turn! Have a resume that needs rescue? Submit it to AOL Jobs Resume Rescue for a free review.

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