Top tips to fit your work history to a 2-page resume with no effort

Top Tips to fit your work history to a 2-page resume with no effort

One of the challenges faced by seasoned employees going on a job hunt is figuring out how to condense one’s job history in one or two pages. We all know that the resume is that all-important document that gets your foot in the door while searching for jobs – knowing what to include or omit from your work experience is a crucial skill for all candidates to learn. Now you might be wondering if a resume could be concise, and still remain informative enough to impress employers. Well, let our tips below convince you and show you how to go do that. But first of all, let us talk about resume length.

How many pages should your resume be?

It’s one of the most pressing questions for candidates everywhere. Would a one-page long resume suffice? How about two pages? Is there a rule that states which resume length is most preferred by employers? Turns out, the answer isn’t quite so simple. Ask 10 hirers and you might get different answers, but one thing they may all agree is that what matters more is not the length but the content of the resume.

The keyword here is ‘relevance’ – your resume should contain relevant information that would help propel you to the next stage of the process and eventually win you the job. Yolanda M. Owens, a college recruiting specialist at AOL advises candidates to focus on quality, not quantity. While your accomplishments from 15 years ago still bring you much pride and joy today, they may not be so relevant in your working life now especially if you’ve changed careers or industries.

Erica Murphy over at Levo recommends focusing on three key work experiences that are the most relevant and build from there. Add in details such as numbers (“Increased company production to 200%”) to better illustrate your achievements to hirers.

Lastly, remember that employers just spend a mere 6 seconds reviewing your resume. Make one too long and your piece of work might just go straight to the trash.  A strong resume captures its audience from the get go, so anything more than two won’t be necessary if you play your cards right. Stick to one page if you are a fresh grad or going after entry-level positions, while those aspiring for higher posts would do well with two-page long resumes.

What comprises a strong, concise resume?

With such a short amount of time spent on reading resumes, you need to make sure your own is formatted in such a way that it would stand out and impress its readers. Listing all your duties from your first job to the last won’t do the trick, but choosing the parts in your employment history that are relevant to the role at hand can. For this to work, it is important to know the value of customizing resumes.

It used to be that a ‘one size fits all’ approach works, where you only use the same resume for all your applications and job interviews. In today’s competitive job market, that won’t simply do. To stand out, tailoring your resume for each and every job you apply for would be much more favourable for you. For this approach to work, you only need to look at the job ad to learn what the company is looking for and their expectations of you. Now look at your employment history and see where you fit in. Focus on those areas that answer the job ads needs and highlight those in your resume.

Next, mirror the words used on the job ad and apply the same to your resume. Hirers often use software that scans resume for particular keywords for faster processing and doing this technique could help bring your resume to the forefront.

There are, however, resume sections that must not be overlooked even if you choose to customize your document. Because of space constraints, every section included must count for something to help move your narrative forward:

Career Summary: Capture hirers right away by coming up with a short summary of your career history, and how it relates to the job at hand. For this section, a one or a two-sentence long description would be enough.

Education: For seasoned employees/candidates, you only need to include your college and post grad degrees (if you have them). Again, aim for relevance. You may include short courses you may have taken as long as it is relevant to the job you are applying for.

Career Achievements and Awards: Past recognitions and successes, especially those that match the needs of the job ad should be retained.

Here are a few more tips to keep your resume compact:

Out with the old: For experienced employees/job seekers, keep your employment history to as far back as 10 years, then highlight three or four of the most relevant details per job. If you must include older jobs, briefly mention your job title, company name and timelines while omitting specific job roles and details about them.

Cut down on unnecessary information: A few candidates still include personal details such as their marital status, parents’ names, or vital stats to their resumes. Unless the job ad specifically calls for these information (although we can’t think of any job that would require all of these specifics about you), you’re better off leaving them out of your resume.

Eliminate buzzwords and vague descriptions: Remember the 6-second rule. Get to the point and choose words that are powerful and descriptive. Instead of saying, “Made strategic techniques that increased the company’s followers on social media,” simply state, “Grew the company’s Facebook reach to 250% via Facebook Live.”

Use social media or your own jobsDB profile to your advantage: While you’re fairly limited by your resume’s physical copy when it comes to length, sites such as LinkedIn and your very own jobsDB profiles allow you to dig deep and show more of your career experiences online. In this arena, you’re free to elaborate on areas that you might have overlooked on your two-page long resume. Take advantage of this technology and use links, portfolios, and websites to showcase more of your work.


Further reading: 

4 top job skills hirers look for in a candidate

9 smart answers to tough job interview questions

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