You’re sure your executive resume is too long. It’s more than 4 pages and you worked hard to cut it down to that.
One of the problems many executives face when writing their resume is keeping it to a reasonable length, while still making it easy to read.
Some make the mistake of cramming too much information into however many pages they believe a resume must be.
This results in a document with very little white space that makes it difficult for readers to get through and be able to quickly find the info they need to find.
You’ve probably heard that recruiters and other hiring professionals typically allow about 15 seconds to review each resume and assess whether the candidate will get a job interview.
All the more reason to take a very close look at the resume you’re about to send out, and put yourself in the shoes of people who will be reading it.
Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to find what they need in your document.
How long should your executive resume be?
Let’s start with whether or not your resume IS too long.
Have you been conditioned, by what you’ve heard and read, that your executive resume should be no longer than 2 pages?
The thinking on resume length has evolved, but it’s often a topic debated among career professionals.
For quite a few years, many in the careers industry said a one-page executive resume was best, but I always had a hard time with that restriction.
It seemed nearly impossible to pare down an executive’s resume to one page and still include all the relevant information AND include enough white space AND a reasonably-sized font to make it readable.
Then for a time, I was stuck on the absolute 2-page rule. But often enough I found that to best present and market my clients’ unique value promise, content had to spill over to a third page. In some cases, to a partial fourth page.
Although there is no hard and fast rule about resume length, use this as your guide:
Executive resume length and formatting should be driven by the content that needs to be there to market the candidate’s value, and by who will be reading the resume.
So don’t fret if you follow my tips here and you still have a 3 page resume.
Your writing strategy when your executive resume is too long
Tight writing and ruthless editing are the keys. You’ll be amazed at how much space you save (and how much white space you can add) by eliminating small filler words here and there
Think of the great impression you’ll make on recruiters and other hiring professionals who are able to quickly find exactly what they want to know about you in your resume.
And think how much easier you make their job with a resume that leaves out arbitrary information and sticks to the point, which is “What makes this candidate the best hiring choice?”
Keep in mind that your resume should be built around what makes you a valuable and overall good fit for your target employers.
It needs to say just enough to capture interest and persuade recruiters and other hiring professionals to want to interview you.
As an executive, you probably have many impressive accomplishments and gained a multitude of skills over a decades-long career.
You may feel that all of them are critically important and you want potential employers to know about them.
But not all of those accomplishments will be important to, or resonate with, the employers you want to work for. So cut out the ones that don’t fit the bill.
That includes outdated things like older certifications and trainings.
How will you know what should stay in and what should go?
Look at the research you did on each employer you’re targeting and fine-tune your resume around what they really want in candidates for the job(s) you’re seeking.
Get this right information into your resume before you start the editing process.
Here’s a time-saving tip:
As you’re tackling each employer-specific resume, first take out what isn’t going to impress or resonate with that particular employer and job you’re seeking.
Then start the editing process with that much less content to whittle down. You may find that this editing alone brings you right in line with a resume of acceptable length.
But if your resume is still too long, read on to learn how to snip back some more.
Fix-it tips when your executive resume is too long
I’m assuming that you’ve done the work above and already pared down your resume to include only relevant and necessary content.
Here are a few more things that will eliminate some content. Some of these will only eliminate a few characters and spaces, but they add up.
And, overall, these edits may make for a better resume:
Streamline your contact information.
You need to include only one email address and one phone number. If you’re including social media accounts, only use the ones where you’re active.
Pare down run-on sentences.
I see too many resumes with ridiculously long sentences. Break them up (you know which ones) into 2 or 3 shorter ones, eliminating the need for filler words, like “which” or “that”. This will also make the content easier to follow and digest.
Eliminate an objective statement.
I still see these lame openers on executive resumes, so I’ll say what most people know about objective statements. They’re very old fashioned. They miss the point of what a resume really is: a personal marketing document that should differentiate and position the job seeker’s promise of value to future employers.
Forget the “Skills Summary” table.
Eliminate a lengthy list of your skills or areas of expertise in the Summary section at the top. Instead choose a few of the most important ones and fortify them with brief examples. The others should show up organically in job descriptions in the Experience section.
Cut down or eliminate early-career jobs and/or job descriptions.
For various reasons, resume writers usually include only jobs from the recent 10-15 years. If, for some reason, you feel you need to even list jobs from more than 15 years ago, only include the job title, employer name and dates.
Avoid double spaces between sentences.
Putting two spaces after a period is an old-fashioned practice and could be used to screen out older candidates. If you’ve put two spaces between sentences throughout your resume, eliminating that one extra space could have a big impact on length.
Replace long words with shorter ones.
Consult a thesaurus to find shorter words and phrases to replace your overly long ones. You may even end up with better content and a more interesting resume.
Move extra info into your LinkedIn profile.
Additional necessary information can go in your LinkedIn profile. Refer people (with a hyperlink) to your LinkedIn profile, using a phrase like “Read more in my LinkedIn profile”. Note that much more content can (and should) go in your LinkedIn profile than your resume, although each profile section has character limits.
This is where you may want to put early-career information that didn’t fit on your resume.
What NOT to do, when your executive resume is too long
Here are a few things to avoid:
Other than acronyms representing certifications or degrees that you put alongside your name at the top, don’t use acronyms within the text that only insiders would know. You can’t assume that all readers will know what they are.
Don’t overuse tricks like smaller font size and narrower margins. As noted above, this results in a very hard to read document.
Don’t ignore a recruiter’s request to provide an overly long resume. If they ask for a super detailed account of your career history that results in, say, 5-7 pages, give it to them. They know their client companies and what they want to see from candidates.
FAQs when your executive resume is too long
There’s no strict rule about the ideal length for an executive resume. It should be as long as necessary to effectively showcase your qualifications and accomplishments while remaining concise and focused on what’s most relevant to the job you’re applying for.
No, there’s no standard page limit for executive resumes. It should be driven by the content needed to market your unique value and tailored to the expectations of the reader, such as recruiters or hiring managers.
White space helps improve readability and makes your resume more inviting to readers. It allows them to scan through the document quickly and locate the information they need without feeling overwhelmed.
While one-page resumes work for some candidates, it can be challenging to condense extensive executive experience into one page without sacrificing important details. Aim for brevity but prioritize content relevancy over length.
The key is tight writing and ruthless editing. Eliminate filler words, use shorter sentences, and focus on highlighting your most relevant achievements and qualifications.
Tight writing involves using concise language and avoiding unnecessary words. It helps save space and ensures that your resume is more focused and impactful.
Removing filler words not only saves space but also makes your resume more reader-friendly. It allows recruiters to quickly grasp your key points without distractions.
Your executive resume should focus on demonstrating why you are the best fit for the job. It should highlight your unique value proposition and qualifications.
Research each target employer’s specific needs and tailor your resume accordingly. Include achievements and skills that align with the job requirements and the employer’s expectations.
Begin by removing information that isn’t relevant to the employer’s needs and emphasizing content that aligns with their expectations. Customize your resume for each job application.
Streamline your contact information, break up long sentences, eliminate an objective statement, reduce the skills summary, cut down early-career jobs, avoid double spaces between sentences, and use shorter words.
Use acronyms or abbreviations sparingly. While some may be industry-specific and well-known, it’s best to spell out terms in full initially and use the abbreviation in parentheses if needed for clarity. Ensure that your resume is accessible to a wide audience.