How to trim your resume to one page

Whether you’re entry-level or experienced, a two-page resume could cost you the job.

How to trim your resume to one page

From spelling and grammatical errors to flowery language and absent keywords, there’s certainly no shortage of resume mistakes you could make. But there is one surefire kiss of death for most job seekers: submitting a two- or, dare we say it, three-page resume.

“If you’re fresh out of college, you may have a few internships under your belt but by no means should you have a two-page resume,” says Christopher Ward, founder at Ward Resumes.

Even many mid- and executive-level job hunters would benefit by sticking to a one-page resume, says professional resume writer Laurie J. James, since hiring managers have short attention spans. “When your resume is competing with dozens or hundreds of applications, hiring managers don’t have time to look at a two-page resume,” she says.

Don’t think you can shorten your resume to one 8.5”×11” document? Here’s how to squeeze everything onto one page so you’ll outshine the competition.

Don’t take style shortcuts

You might be tempted to trim margins, shorten line spacing, or shrink the font but those not-so-obvious shortcuts stand out to recruiters and could get your resume tossed in the trash.

“You need to preserve the readability of the document,” says Dana Leavy-Detrick, owner of Brooklyn Resume Studio. “You don’t want to overwhelm the hiring manager with too much text,” she says.

What font is the best for resumes? James recommends using Cambria, with up to 14-point font for section headers and no smaller than 10-point for content.

Write concisely

To tighten up the language on your resume—and save space—avoid using personal pronouns (I, me, or we) and articles (a, an, or the), James advises.

Also, use industry-standard abbreviations or acronyms where appropriate; for example, in many industries it’s universally known that “R&D” stands for research and development.

Cut obsolete content

If you have an objective on your resume—a me-centric statement where you describe what type of job it is you’re looking for—scratch it. “Employers are focused on what their needs are,” says James, “not yours.”

Also, erase high school experience from your resume. The same goes for writing “references available upon request”—“that’s a given,” says Mir Garvy, owner and lead resume writer at Job Market Solutions.

As for having a section on interests, “generally speaking that information is not what’s going to get you hired,” says James. There are exceptions, such as when your hobby directly relates to the job. “If you’re applying for a position at The PGA and you’re a lifelong golf player, then I would include it” on your resume, says James.

Consolidate your contact information

Your address should not be eating up multiple lines on your resume. “You only need to what city you live in, not your full address,” says Ward.

Also, instead of separating your phone number, email address, and social media accounts by line, use vertical bars to divide the information and include everything on one line.

Erase soft skills

“Don’t list subjective skills, like leadership, on your resume,” Garvy says. Instead, focus on highlighting hard skills that make you more marketable, such as proficiency in Excel or a second language.

Mirroring the language used in the job posting will also help your resume get past applicant-tracking systems, which is the software used by employers to scan resumes for keywords. “So, if the job posting lists certain skills, include them on your resume,” says Leavy-Detrick.

Eliminate unnecessary section headers

The summary—a three- to four-sentence pitch where you highlight what makes you uniquely qualified for the job—should appear at the top of your resume, but you don’t need to label it “summary.” “That’s just a waste of space,” says Ward.

Also, instead of creating separate sections for professional and volunteer experience, combine them under one “experience” section. “Relevant volunteer experience is not something that you should necessarily cut when trimming your resume,” says Ward

If you’re an entry-level, volunteer work can help boost your resume.  If you’re more experienced, that volunteer work, like a hobby, could give you an edge over a similarly qualified candidate, if it’s highly relevant.

Get help from an expert

Still can’t seem to fit everything into one page? Upload your resume to Monster for a free critique from one of our professional resume writers.