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How to write a proper one-page resume?

Jelena Lukic

Published 26th October , 2020

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Job opportunities are rare, while opportunities for an interview are few and far apart nowadays. The internet has enabled professionals to easily apply for many positions in a short period of time. This, in turn, has increased the competition immensely. Recruiters and hiring managers have to look through a great number of resumes on a daily basis and make sure to do it in a timely manner, as not to lose the perfect employee to a competitor. Thus, they are under a lot of pressure to do their jobs as quickly as possible. For this reason, long and monotone resumes have been the downfall of many great potential employees. I Love My CV is here to teach you all you need to know to write a great one-page resume.

Why is writing a one-page resume a problem for some people?

There are two main reasons writing a short professional cv can be difficult for some people. On one hand, we have professionals with years of experience and many accomplishments under their belts. On the other hand, there are individuals freshly out of school with little to no relevant work experience.

In the first case it can be difficult to condense a long and fruitful career so it fits a single page. Our tip is to include only the last fifteen years of your career in your work history, except when you have had an outstanding accomplishment at an earlier point in time. Also, try to focus on your biggest successes and how they have reflected on the companies.

In the other case, a candidate may feel the need to overcompensate their lack of experience by listing every award, volunteer work and positive trait they posses. This can make your resume look too busy and disingenuous. Instead, you should focus on your strongest suits, and also highlight which aspects of your personality or academic successes make you the perfect candidate for a position.

A man looking over a resume in a pensive pose.
Think the necessities of the job posting thoroughly.

It is important to make changes to your resume according to the company you are applying for. This, of course, influences both the nature of what you put in your CV as well as the quantity of information you will be giving.

One-page resume: How to do it?

We will take a step back now and look at the bigger picture. You are not going to get a job based on a resume only. What you should be aiming at is rising above the competition and getting an interview. Hence, you should tailor your resume to be as appealing to the recruiter of that particular company as possible. This means removing anything that isn’t relevant to the position. Another important aspect of getting a job is fitting into the company culture. A great first step to doing so is researching the company and its values before you start editing you resume.

Now that you are well informed both about the job and the company, it’s time to start planning. More experienced professionals will have to look at their career and distinguish between relevant and irrelevant work experiences. Make an outline with all your previous jobs, tasks, skills and experiences at work. Then cross off the points on the list that have little to nothing to do with the job posting you are currently applying for.

A laptop, pen and cofee mug next to a resume on a table.
Show them why they need you!

On the other hand, you may not have much (or any!) experience in the particular field. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the chance for an interview. Think about your duties at school or previous job(s), as well as your personal traits. Which one of them match the requirements of the posting and the company? You may feel the urge to prove yourself in every aspect, but you should focus on your biggest strengths first and foremost.

Learn to edit

If you have a long list of qualifications, tasks and traits, it may seem impossible to condense it into a single page. Thus, you will have to learn to edit your writing. Start with everything you think is relevant to the job, and then cut down the less important elements of the document, as well as repeated tasks that are identical or similar in nature.

Editing, on the other hand, can also mean making sure your sentences bring a higher informational value. In other words, you may want to reconsider your writing style, and adjust it so that the content of your resume tells more in fewer words. This most often applies to bullet points within the Work experience section. This is true as most recruiters make their decisions based precisely on this section. Hence, you should form each bullet point by using strong action verbs. Here are some examples

  • Managing
  • Assisting
  • Training
  • Developing
  • Arranging

As you can see, each of these verbs is applicable to more than a single duty, and give off a sense of authority and capability. They also require less words to form a complete sentence.

On the other hand, for a great one-page resume you should get rid of unnecessary words (which, in turn, saves space), such as adjectives, adverbs and pronouns.

Formatting tips for a one-page resume

There are ways to manipulate the text to be able to fit an entire resume into one page.

Use acronyms when mentioning well known industry terms and institutions. If they are more rare make sure to write them out completely at least once.

Don’t include a reminder to ask for references. As well as being common knowledge among recruiters, this custom is becoming less and less popular in the business world in general.

Reduce font and margins if you absolutely need to to be able to fit more text on a single page. Another tip is to use digits instead of spelling out numbers to save precious space.

Finally, convert your resume into PDF before submitting or printing it, as this type of document keeps the original formatting.

When is one page cv not enough?

Some jobs generally require more information about the candidates.

Illustration of a single and a double blank page.
Two pages or one – that is the question.

This applies to academia, the medical field, international jobs, as well as many higher positions. As these positions do not open often, it is logical to want to know as much as possible about a candidate’s individual achievements and projects they have participated in.

Then, there are postings that require a section dedicated to reference lists, headshots, portfolios ect. Additionally, professionals in the creative field can illustrate their resumes and make them longer.

Formatting tips for a 2 page resume

If by chance, there is no way to condense your resume into a single page, you will have to be very careful about its formatting. Make sure to break up the content into multiple paragraphs, bullet points, and separate sections with their own subheadings. Another way to break up the block of text is to organize your resume into columns that are easy to read. However, the most important element of your resume is what it says. Make sure every section and every sentence within it makes an impact.

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