Wait—how does that work? Aren’t you supposed to write down every skill you have, every accomplishment you’ve achieved, and every bit of job experience and education you’ve ever had, in order to make yourself look as appealing as possible? You might think so, but that’s not really how it works. What you want to put down is actually as little as you can get away with—but it needs to be the very best representation of you. You want to put down the most relevant skills, accomplishments, and experience you have—no more and no less.
Why write less? Most hiring managers only glance at the top third of the first page of any resume they receive. If that top third says nothing of note, they throw the resume into the trash and go onto the next one. If the top third is interesting, they will set aside the resume for further review later. But if they open up your resume and see ten pages, they’re going to throw the resume away without a second thought. Hiring managers are busy people and they don’t have time to spend going over ten pages of information looking for what really stands out about you. Succinctness counts. It’s easier for a hiring manager to review, and it also tells hiring mangers that you care about not wasting their time. Ten pages of content (or more) is just intimidating.
It’s counterintuitive, but the shorter your resume is, the better.
This is one of the reasons you should consider creating a new resume for every position you apply for—or at least every type of position you apply for. Skills and experience from your past may or may not be pertinent to every position. If for example you’re applying for a customer service position at one company and a billing position at another, you would only have some overlap in relevant job skills and experience. Your mathematics skills won’t be as relevant for the job in customer service, and your face-to-face people skills won’t be as relevant for a job in billing (though still relevant—you’d just list them further down).
Writing a novel and sending it to the hiring manager isn’t going to make you stand out—except as an applicant who cannot choose his or her words wisely and make good use of the resources at hand. Demonstrate your ability to communicate and show off your efficiency by making your resume no longer than three pages—at most. Many of the best resumes are just one page long—even for candidates with a dozen years or more of experience. If you think that a one page resume won’t show effort, you’re wrong—it’ll show more effort, since it will prove that you are able to select what is truly relevant and convey yourself in a manner which is neat and distinctive. We’ve all heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. Paint a picture of yourself in one page of well chosen words, and you’ll stand out from all the candidates who fail to do so with dozens of pages!