One-Page Resume: How to Clean House and Cut the Clutter

one-page resumeLet’s get one big idea out of the way right now. You should only submit a one-page resume. Period.

Anything longer and people become bored. They just do. I’m not here to burst your bubble. I’m sure you’ve done incredible work in your career so far.

But it’s not about you. It’s all about the reader. And you must value his/her time above anything else.

Yes, as a career evolves you take on new jobs which add to your list of work accomplishments. That means the collection of potential “Experience” bullet points swells too. Which bullet points should stay? Which should you delete? Tough challenge, for sure. But there are questions to ask of yourself to find the answers. And once you do, you’ll create a tightly worded one-page resume that contains your best stuff (and nothing more).

Structuring a One-Page Resume

Before we explore the nuances of each bullet point — and which ones to leave in — let’s talk at a high level about how to structure each job inside your “Experience” so a one-page resume comes to life.

The key to a one-page resume is to limit the number of bullet points below each job. The latest job receives the most description, but after that keep the bullet points to a minimum. It saves space and also helps the employer focus on your biggest achievement(s). Less is more.

The Experience Section

COMPANY NAME * City, State * Start Date–End Date
Job Title

  • Explain the company and its general purpose
  • 1st Work accomplishment
  • 2nd Work accomplishment
  • 3rd Work accomplishment

COMPANY NAME * City, State * Start Date–End Date
Job Title

  • Explain the company and its general purpose
  • 1st Work accomplishment
  • 2nd Work accomplishment

COMPANY NAME * City, State * Start Date–End Date
Job Title

  • Explain the company and its general purpose
  • Work accomplishment

I give three work accomplishments for the latest job. Then, I provide two examples for job #2 and one each for jobs #3 and #4. That’s all the space I likely have.

Each time, I include the bullet that explains the company (ex: “Provide research and development for a company that manufactures infant high chairs and car seats”), which helps the employer understand the nature of the work. If you don’t have room for the “explanation” bullet point, then let it go. But do your best to keep it in there; context is critical.

Questions to Ask Yourself

OK, now that I told you to limit bullet points for previous jobs to two bullet points (or maybe even one if you’ve held multiple jobs), how do you choose the right info to include?

Which bullet points allow me to discuss hard skills?

  • Fill your resume with hard skills like tools/software you can use. That way, employers know what you can physically do on the job.
  • If your bullet point is vague (“Showed excellent leadership and time management skills”) then toss it out. The details of what you can do on the job matter. The rest is forgettable.

Which bullet points let me quantify my success in the greatest possible way?

  • Again, vague language gets you nowhere on a resume. Where are the numbers, stats, and data in your current or previous jobs? If you have a killer stat, keep the bullet point in.
  • If you think hard, you can quantify everything you do in a job. Ask yourself: how much? how often? how many?

Which bullet points let me “name drop” clients and companies?

  • 99.99% of employers will gloss over a bullet point like “Worked with a variety of clients in the food and beverage industry”
  • 99.99% of employers will read every word of a bullet point like “Worked with clients in the food and beverage industry like Pepsi, Coca Cola and KFC”
  • Specific — and often recognizable words — jump off the page and command the reader’s attention.

To Summarize

You want your resume full of hard skills, quantified success, and specific people, places, and things. If you still have a big list of bullet points, you need to again ask yourself which of these bullet points are most impressive as they relate to my industry? If you need to ask a friend/colleague who has deeper insight, do it. The bottom line is, your resume shouldn’t be a giant recap of your entire work history. It needs to be a crisp summary of your greatest career highlights.

That’s how you make an employer say, “I need to meet this person right now.”


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Danny_RubinAbout the Author: Danny Rubin is a communications expert and author of the new book, Wait, How Do I Write This Email?, a collection of 100+ templates for networking, the job search and LinkedIn. For more of Danny’s insights and sample chapters from the book, visit his blog, The Template, which highlights the career advice in the latest headlines. Follow him on Twitter.



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