White Space

Remember when you were just starting out and struggled to fill a whole page as you wrote your first resume? Now, with some years – or decades – under your professional belt, you might have the opposite problem. When you’re well into your career, you might be tempted to expand your resume to include every last fact, figure and buzzword, bloating it to two or more pages. Resist that temptation. Here’s why.

An interviewer will often take only 15-30 seconds for an initial look at a resume, so before you get too far into the weeds with the content, remember to leave some white space. That overall look and feel is going to make a first impression before the reviewer even gets to the actual words. So make it a clean, uncluttered first impression, and don’t reduce everything to 6-point type so it all fits.

Up top: When you browse books at a library or bookstore, you probably read the brief synopsis just inside the front cover to see if you’re interested in going any further. For that same reason, a summary paragraph about you, right at the top of your resume, is appreciated. But make sure it’s really about you and not just a generic description of what you think interviewers are looking for.

The box: Many candidates will use six to twelve bulleted items near the top to capture their skill set. There’s nothing at all wrong with this, as long as the keywords are specific and describe exact skills (“Expert in Salesforce CRM”), not general qualities. And keep it to six bullets, not a dozen.

How many jobs? For each role you’ve had, four to five bullets of one or two lines each is just right. For older jobs, one to three bullets. For jobs way, way back … leave them off completely or just list them as “Additional Experience” with the company and your title. If that experience is relevant it will come up in the interview.

Bottom line: No matter how long your career has been, find a clean and attractive way to limit your resume to two pages.