The Career Center recommends that you generally limit your résumé to one page. Why? One reason is that a single-page résumé is a sign of confidence: it tells the recruiter that your résumé is so strong that you don’t need several pages to clearly demonstrate why you are the best candidate for the job. Another is that recruiters often look for the easiest résumés in a pile to eliminate, and many do not want to take the time to read multiple pages. But what if you have too much to say? Here are some of our favorite tips and tweaks to fit your résumé onto a single page without making it look too crammed.
1. Reduce the margins
There are a few ways to go about this. Reducing all the margins universally can drastically decrease your line count, however as the text expands towards the edges of the page your résumé tends to sprawl. White space is your friend! A more subtle adjustment is to reduce the right margin, because readers are less likely to notice that the “ragged” edge of the text is extended. Reducing the top margin also puts your letterhead in a more typical position above the main body of your résumé.
2. Tweak the font size
The first approach most people try when shortening the length of their résumé is reducing the font point size. This works really well, but be careful: You shouldn’t have to squint to read it! 10 point is probably the smallest you should go, but even that might be too small to comfortably read with some fonts. Print out your résumé to find out, because reading from a page versus a LCD screen are often very different experiences. Remember that you can manually enter in the point size of a font in increments of .5 to find a happy medium. You can even use a different font entirely; many fonts have different letter width and spacing at the same point size!
3. Remove extraneous line breaks by using columns, tabs and commas
This technique is helpful when you have sections with many lines that have little text on each, such as lists or bullet points. If you have several list-like sections in your résumé, you could place them adjacent to each other in a two-column format. If you don’t like that solution, you could separate list items by tabs or commas instead of line breaks. This works great at reducing the length of sections such as “Computer Skills” and “Related Coursework.” Using tabs is also a great way to consolidate all of the contact information in your letterhead to just one or two lines.
4. Remove unnecessary indentations by hanging your bullets
This strategy works best if the text from your bullet points is wrapping onto multiple lines. By moving the left edge of the bulleted text flush with the rest of the page and “hanging” the bullets out into the margin, you can save lines and make your résumé look extra sharp.
5. Reduce the height of existing line breaks
This one is easy: just move your cursor to the empty line and decrease the font size. This has the effect of compressing your sections together, reducing the distance between them by several points while still maintaining the visual break they need to look separate.
If you have tried all these techniques and still can’t manage to fit your résumé onto one page, it may be time to re-evaluate your content. Does everything you include relate back to your objective? You may have a few cherished experiences that don’t necessarily apply to this position. Check the job description to make sure. If all your experiences are relevant, make sure the descriptions of them are brief. Provide the most basic information about your responsibilities, and use your cover letter to elaborate on them. Lastly, you may need to delete outdated content. Demonstrating a history of work is important, but experiences dating back to high school are often the least impressive and should be the first to go.
Below are a few links to instructions on specific formatting techniques in Microsoft Word. Good luck!