Resume Too Wordy? Too Long? How to Keep it Simple by the Numbers
— December 22, 2017
When was the last time you spent more than a minute reviewing a resume? When was the last time you printed your medical sales resume out to read? When people are in a rush (people are ALWAYS in a rush) the bottom line is we SKIM (at least for the first read), and WE MOSTLY READ ONLINE. Ironically, what often happens when trying to write our own good professional resumes is that we tend to throw in every achievement, every sales figure, and every ounce of history.
The result? A resume that says too much and is virtually impossible to skim quickly!
Use these numbers to guide you in writing your story in a way that easily tells the reader how your experience makes you an ideal fit for the role.
1 to 2: Page Length
A one-pager is great if you can do it, and is easily manageable if you have less than five years of sales experience or have held the same medical sales role with one or many companies.
If your career spans companies, devices, disease states, etc., you likely have 10+ years of experience under your belt, in which case two pages can adequately convey your achievements.
Make it longer than that and you run the risk of overwhelming some readers — who may never review your resume because they deem it “too long.”
2-3: Paragraph Lines
When it comes to reading on screens, especially small ones, it’s tough to digest dense blocks of text. This can mean four single-lined bullets or a five-line paragraph.
I recommend keeping paragraphs at two to three lines, followed by at least a half-inch of white space (accomplished by hitting the ENTER button on your keyboard).
4-5: List of Bullets
A long list of bullets, even if they are just one line each, is tough for that skim-reader to digest. If you have more than five bullets, consider organizing them into categories or sub-headers.
21: Focus on Your Experience from the 21st, not the 20th, Century
Ask yourself if your pre-2000 experience adds value. Sometimes it does! Perhaps you worked with a pharma giant like J&J, or you are a sales director but need to show that you learned the ropes as a rep back in the day.
This can be synopsized and included under a previous experience headline. Otherwise, remove it to save space and increase skim readability.
Shhh . . . Don’t Tell Your English Professor!
Although your English teacher might frown, your resume doesn’t need to adhere to those old term paper rules.
Look for words you can easily remove while still allowing the sentence to be skim-readable. You can shorten and clean up your sentences by eliminating words like THAT, AN, THE, and BY, and by removing extraneous words that don’t add any additional meaning to the sentence.
Here’s an example that reduced word count by 55 characters, and saved ½ a line of coveted space! More importantly, it’s an easier sentence to digest quickly.
Expanded XYZ’s national sales force by 2X and established online, field, and continuous sales training programs. This strategy proved key to U.S. sales success and was emulated across the company’s E.U. sales force.
Expanded national sales force 2X and established online, field, and continuous training programs key to U.S. sales success and emulated across E.U. sales force.
Simplification is Key to Clean and Easy Resume Reading
You don’t need more words to make your resume impactful. Choose wisely, avoid long lists, long paragraphs, and irrelevant history.