How to Add Experience to Your Resume (Without Adding a Page)

So, you’ve spent the last couple of years at your gig honing your skills and getting great experience, and you’ve decided it’s time to move on and look for something new.

But wait: What should you do with your resume now that you’ve got tons more knowledge and experience under your belt—but the same jam-packed 8.5×11” sheet of paper to work with?

Hint: The answer is not to add another page (in fact, most hiring managers I know would automatically disqualify you for doing so!). You’ll want to employ the opposite strategy: If you’re dusting off your resume for the first time in a while, you should reconsider what you include, and remove some things that don’t make the cut. Here are a few strategies for trimming what you don’t need so you can make room for the new.

 Rule #1: Tell a Story

Your resume is a narrative, and it should tell a purposeful story. The chronology, headers, and action words on your resume don’t matter nearly as much as your overall personal narrativedoes. No one cares about how many bullet points you have and whether they are squares or circles.

Instead, focus on the person coming across in your resume. If you want to be “the social media guru,” anything that doesn’t at least tangentially relate to social media should be de-prioritized. If you want to come across as “the academic research all-star,” by all means put your educational experience on top, throw in your GPA, and get in-depth about your awards and publications. Feel free to leave off your real estate experience.

This neurotic friend of mine (who is actually me) even has different versions of her resume—an international relations resume, a writing resume, a start-up focused resume. Each of these resumes is a variation on the same experiences, but it’s spun for different purposes, highlighting different skill sets and accomplishments.

And that’s OK—you really don’t have to have one resume that includes everything you’ve ever done. Think about your story in relation to the types of positions you’re seeking—and if a job, bullet point, or even a word does not enhance this story, remove it.

Rule #2: Focus on the Recent (or Relevant)

Think about it—just by virtue of the fact that you are the oldest you have ever been, you are at your most evolved point thus far. And whether or not your current position is challenging you, it likely reflects your most senior job title and contains your most impressive accomplishments to date.

So, if there’s a choice between including one more college internship or going into more detail about your current role, always choose the latter. Your goal is to make room for that position byeliminating waste in other parts of your resume.

(Disclaimer: If a previous job was more relevant to the one for which you’re applying, you can and should to go into more detail there.)

Rule #3: Consolidate Your Education

If your education isn’t the most impressive part of your resume, it isn’t 100% relevant to the position you’re applying for, or if you’re not going for an academic role, I’m willing to bet that you could shorten it. Especially if you’ve been out of college for a few years, you don’t need to list out your courses, GPA, or activities—all you really need is your college and degree. Here’s a before and after:


UNIVERSITY OF MAINE, College of Arts and Sciences, Farmington, ME
Bachelor of Arts, Government, May 2008; Major GPA: 3.0; Cumulative GPA: 2.5
Focus: Government, political science, sociology, psychology, economics
Academic Year 2006 to 2007, Institut des Etudes Politiques, Paris, France: Direct matriculation, courses in French and final examinations in French language


UNIVERSITY OF MAINE, College of Arts and Sciences, Farmington, ME
Bachelor of Arts, Government, May 2008

(You can move your French language experience under “Skills” or “Languages”—but again, only if it’s relevant to the position.)

 Rule #4: Cut the Quirky

Particularly if you want work at the kind of place where everyone sits on yoga balls and takes team-building canoe trips (I want to work there, too), you might think that you should list your hobbies on your resume or go into detail about the fact that you were voted the seventh best vegetarian chef in your city. Hiring managers want you to be a real person with interests outside of the office, right?

This will come across better in an interview, or maybe even in a cover letter. Don’t use the precious space on your resume. Definitely list languages you speak, technical skills you have, or security clearances you’ve obtained, but if your yoga certification doesn’t pertain to the job you’re applying for and you’re running out of space—get ’er outta there.

Re-focusing your resume is a good thing: it forces you to think about what’s really important in the eyes of a hiring manager, and what doesn’t really need to be on there. So don’t spend your time reducing your font size to 8 and pushing those borders to the limit—focus on being merciless about creating your story and honing in on your message. It will take you further in your quest to land dream job.