There are several reasons why, at different points in our working lives, we might struggle to come up with a full-page résumé. Maybe you’ve switched careers and you want to focus on relevant or recent experience only; perhaps you’ve been working for a couple of decades by now at the same company and it would look silly to include details about odd jobs you held back in college; or, if it’s your very first résumé, you’re probably working with a finite amount of background information.
You’ll be relieved to know all of those scenarios are perfectly okay. The first thing to keep in mind is that having less information to work with can actually be a good thing. For starters, you’ll be able to include a lot of white space throughout your résumé, which looks fantastic both on screen and on paper.
However, you’ll still want to make sure that you send in what looks and reads like a complete résumé, so it’s important not to get halfway down the page and give up. Instead, you should work with what you’ve got and make it go as far as you can. Below are three easy tips on how to create a full-page CV or résumé with limited experience.
1. Experiment with different margins
Having wider margins is an easy way to concentrate your résumé body in a smaller amount of overall space on the page, but it can be challenging to do this without knowing exactly how much text you’re working with in the first place. So, before you change any margin settings, first try and come up with the finalized text of your résumé without worrying about filling up the page.
Once you’ve typed out all the information you want to include, pull up the page layout settings and tinker around with the margins. If the default margins are one inch all around, try 1.5 inches instead and see how far down it bumps your résumé body. If it goes down too far, try 1.25 inches instead. You can also use slightly wider margins for the sides than for the top and bottom. The idea is to get your résumé body to fit just right on the page.
Note that going any wider than 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) will probably look a bit funky, so don’t get carried away here. If you’re still struggling to stretch out your text even after readjusting the margins, we’re not out of options yet.
2. Center-align your résumé body
This is my favorite tip in this article. A minimalist by nature, I love the look of text centered right down the middle of a page. There’s something about all that extra space cushioning the words that feels comfortable, and it also allows the reader’s eye to go right for the details. Conveniently, it’s also one of the quickest routes to get from the top to the bottom of a page.
If you do decide to go for a centered layout, remember to increase the left and right margins by a few extra centimeters to limit all text and graphics toward the center of the page. Make sure there’s plenty of white space on both sides of your résumé body. You may have to experiment with margins, spacing, and general layout a few times before you’re comfortable with the overall look.
3. Use bullet points and hard returns
No matter how much experience you have, you should always break up your résumé into easily distinguishable sections and employ features like bullet points and hard returns (i.e., start a new line of text by hitting the return key) to make it as easy as possible to skim through.
Don’t write out long paragraphs of text that stretch all the way across the page. The recruiter or hiring manager already knows what they’re looking at, so don’t get bogged down in coming up with a story or formulating super-complete sentences. Fragments and even keyword lists are perfectly acceptable on a résumé as long as they make sense.
So, if you feel like a line is getting a bit too long, go ahead and hit the return key. Write out a paragraph to get your ideas in order, then convert it into a bulleted list of impact phrases and keywords. This will both cut down on text and get you closer to the bottom of the page.
Example: “Typewriter I” Template
With these three tips in tow, creating a fabulous full-page résumé should be a breeze. Remember: it’s better to work with the skills you have and make them shine as best you can than to word-stuff your résumé only for the recruiter to toss it aside because they can’t be bothered to read through it.
Below is a photo of one of my favorite Betenwrite templates, Typewriter I. This shows you just how much you can do with only a little bit of information while still striking a visual impact and clearly detailing your qualifications:
This template is set up for two positions, but you certainly don’t need to have had two jobs already to use it. There are tons of ways you can make the most of this layout, even if you’ve never had a job before. To get a template of this design, visit Betenwrite’s CV and Résumé Designs page, where you can download a free copy. All I ask in return is that you help spread the word about Betenwrite online using the sharing buttons at the bottom of this post.
Looking for more résumé tips? If you liked this article, check out 4 Easy Tips for Effective CVs & Résumés for more ideas on how to craft the best possible version of your résumé. For feedback or to discuss options about personalized help with your résumé, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started Betenwrite because I’m passionate about all things content, particularly the kind that inspires people to do better for themselves. I firmly believe each of us is the editor of our own story – if you don’t like the way yours is going, it’s up to you to rewrite it. Betenwrite.com offers original content focused on personal and professional change as well as a résumé design library featuring free and easy-to-edit templates.