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Truth Hurts: The Real Scoop On Resume Length

You’ve spent your career being the A-list “go-to” person in your department or company. Awards hang on your wall and the company exec pops in to personally give you a “good job” handshake every so often. You’re in good standing with an admirable track record.

Does your resume reflect that?

Most people spend the majority of their resume space citing a laundry list of what they did, rather than focusing on their accomplishments, and worrying about the length of the overall document. More importantly, they don’t effectively showcase their top-line value proposition to prospective employers.

When it is not uncommon for hiring managers to receive 100, 200 and even up to 500 resumes for each open position, communicating what makes you stand out is even more critical. And resume length has everything to do with it. The devil is in the details, and in this case, the details have to be short, sweet, and to the point.

Delivering a concise, value-laden resume takes critical editing skills. Many people end up edging past two pages once the details start to flow. This is exactly the point where the red pen needs to come out and ruthless changes need to happen. One resume writing expert recently announced she is now down to a one-page resume summary for executives, who are usually the ones who flow onto three pages. (!)

So, how do you shorten your background into a tidy and clear illustration about your value to prospective employers?

You need to show what you are capable of doing, not what you’ve done on a daily level. To get to this point, the truth hurts as you begin the editing process. A good way of thinking about it is to frame your background the following way:

Action (what you did) + Results (what was the outcome to company) = Your value to the prospective employer

Take off that one responsibility that you really enjoyed but didn’t produce results. Trim down extensive training and professional development classes you’ve taken… leaving just the “cherry picked” top-notch opportunities that are the most relevant to your background.

Train yourself to think about your background in terms of not what you did on a daily basis but what the overall results were to the company as a whole. Did you make them money? Save them money? Save them time? Or in the case of non-profit organizations… did you expand services? Make efficiency changes? Increase outreach and exposure?

By adopting this approach, you can drastically shorten your resume but add focused power behind communicating what you offer to a potential employer. It’ll have an amazing effect on your viability as a candidate, and you won’t be worrying about how long your resume is at all.