Few people enjoy writing resumes, which explains why so many look for resume help. Perhaps the most important part of writing your resume isn’t the writing at all—it’s the editing. Knowing what to keep and what to trim takes objectivity, focus, and discipline. People become attached to things on their resumes, making the editing process difficult—but no less necessary.

A wordy resume is a hindrance. “What decision-makers want is a solution to their problem,” Katy Piotrowksi, longtime career columnist for The Coloradoan, reminds job seekers. “The goal is to present yourself well and quickly.”

Your resume isn’t an autobiography. It’s your chance to prove—in 6 seconds, according to a large eye-tracking study of recruiters—that you’d be a great fit for a given role. Prioritize quality, relevant words—that is, resume keywords—over quantity of words. Be willing to cut what’s not relevant.

For resume help, consider trusted mentors, teachers, or friends. There are also online tools available. Enter your resume and a job posting into Jobscan’s resume analysis tool for instant feedback on how well your resume aligns with a job, and recommendations that would tailor the resume more effectively.

And remember, you should be keeping a career management document and updating it regularly. Not including something on a resume for one job doesn’t mean you can’t include it on a different resume later.

Beatrix Potter writing editing help
Beatrix Potter offers sound advice that can help you edit your resume.

Ready to start editing your resume? Read these quotes first for motivation.

  • “The simpler you say it, the more eloquent it is.” —August Wilson
  • “There’s a great power in words, if you don’t hitch too many of them together.” —Josh Billings
  • “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” —Thomas Jefferson
  • “Rereading reveals rubbish and redundancy.” —Duane Alan Hahn
  • “Easy reading is damn hard writing.” —Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • “As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out.” —Mark Twain
  • “I believe more in the scissors than I do in the pencil.” —Truman Capote
  • “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add, but when there is no longer anything to take away.” —Antoine de Saint Exupéry
  • “The shorter and the plainer the better.” —Beatrix Potter

Finally, no collection of editing wisdom would be complete without the advice of William Strunk, Jr.

  • “Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subject only in outline, but that every word tell.”
    —William Strunk, Jr.

As true today as it was in 1918.

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Trista Winnie

Trista Winnie has been writing and editing professionally for nearly a decade, primarily covering the job search, investing, engineering, and health.

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