You are competing against thousands of other applicants, and you know none of them, so you may naturally believe that you need any edge available. Because of this, you may feel that you must provide every single detail of your life, exploiting your resume in particular to do so. While we, of course, want you to make the most of your opportunities, we also want to be sure that you are not offering so much information that you are experiencing diminishing returns.
We have found that many resumes—especially those in which every margin is thinned and every font is shrunken—offer too much information. Some become so dense with text that rather than being easily scannable, which is your objective, they become entirely impenetrable and therefore easy to ignore. We often tell our clients that “less is more” and that a brief resume that will be read in full is more beneficial than a dense resume that will not get read at all. At an Association of International Graduate Consultants Conference, eight leading admissions officers were once asked whether they would prefer a one-page or two-page resume, and one person led all the others in declaring, “Everyone together… one page!”
But even with a one-page resume, you need to understand what to include and what to exclude. The answer to this riddle is different for everyone. You may consider jettisoning internships from years gone by, for example, or reducing the number of bullet points offered for past jobs. You could perhaps eliminate entries for community involvements from long ago. Your agenda with your resume should be to create maximum impact, and sometimes that is achieved with fewer words and bullet points. You may need to make tough choices, but the time and effort will be well spent if you ultimately submit a stronger resume and thus make a more compelling statement about yourself.