How to Shorten Your Resume for Readability and Impact

March 2, 2021
Job Seeking

Recruiters tend to give resumes a six to 15-second initial scan before deciding if an applicant is viable for the job. This is why knowing how to write short sentences that 'cut to the chase' is a helpful skill.

Getting past ATS ranking is the first step.

Making a convincing case for your candidacy to the person reading your resume is the next. So, let's tighten up your resume sentences to make them concise, scannable, and compelling!


All bullets in your experience section should be no longer than two lines, say general rules. And leaving white space makes your resume look and feel uncluttered, easy on the eyes, and readable. Try to keep your sentences to a max length of 25 words.

Although the two-line rule is technically correct, aim to keep each bullet a little shorter than that. Leave white space.

Though the often cited "white space between paragraphs and in the left and right margins increases comprehension by almost 20%" statistic comes from a 2004 study, it's only become more accurate. Recruiters look through dozens and sometimes hundreds of resumes every day.

Having to read pages of large blocks of text can become overwhelming to their eyes in time-sensitive situations.


Make a list of every accomplishment and relevant task you executed in your positions. Then make a bullet of each achievement or responsibility you want to include in this particular resume. (You want to tailor each resume to the job you're applying for.)

Count how many words are in each bullet. In most cases, these will be incomplete sentences, so cut out that period. If a bullet exceeds 25 words, you have two options:

  1. Break it down to its essentials
  2. Divide it into several bullets that describe an achievement

Regarding the second option, remember that it's best to keep it to a maximum of four bullet points per job you've held.


Here's a 30-word bullet with several important achievements:

• Created and led the development of a national digital ad campaign, set strategy and KPIs, earned a 30% ROI, and built out a successful team of 15 from scratch

If we break it down:

• Built and led a new 15-person team that secured a 30% ROI on a national digital ad campaign for a major retail client

We've consolidated the sentence to identify the three criteria you want to highlight in your bullet points:

• Role on the team (or in the organization)

• The result of your leadership (30% ROI, in this case)

• Who it impacted (a major retail client)

All in 23 words! Let’s try another example.


When a job listing asks for specifics like "experience designing and meeting KPIs," we can take that same initial sentence above and divide it into several bullets.

• Designed KPIs with the CFO and CMO based on company sales objectives

• Recruited and led a new team of 15 creatives to execute a national digital ad campaign for the client

• Secured a 30% ROI on the national digital ad campaign, which exceeded revenue projections

We've now identified:

  1. Who you worked with to design the KPIs that your work is measured against
  2. Your role in the campaign's execution
  3. The results of your work and who it affects


Your resume doesn't need to mention every detail or specific process you undertook to do great work. It just needs to give enough information to show recruiters why you're a better fit than other applicants. You might think of it like a preview for a film.

Borrow language and keywords from the actual listing to meet the requirements of the ATS software. Then, use the three criteria and the examples above to shorten your bullets. Include numbers (remember to write numbers numerically, i.e. ‘8’ instead of ‘eight’) and quantifiable metrics where possible. Get creative with your sentences and be specific to the job you're applying for!

Warm regards,

The Elysian Team