3 Tips for Deciding When to Go For a Two-Page Resume

Ryan Morris
by Ryan Morris
Get The Job - 1 year ago
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For the longest time, one-page resumes have been touted as the only acceptable resume length.

After all, hiring managers are busy people, and it’s important to make sure that you make an impression in a quick, digestible way in order to keep their attention for long.

But even with the knowledge that most hiring managers spend an average of six seconds reading a single resume, two-page resumes remain prevalent.

Pictured: A perfectly normal-sized resume, unlike whatever eight-page monstrosity you probably just turned in. I bet you’re already regretting it. You’re thinking about it right now. It was bad.

Are two-pagers ever acceptable? Are there situations where a two-page resume is perhaps even preferable?

Here are a few tips to help you get a better grasp on this job hunting conundrum.

Contents

1. What’s Wrong With a Two-Page Resume?

There might be some readers out there — for whom two-page resumes (or even longer) are the norm — who are wondering why this article exists at all.

To those readers, we extend our congratulations — so far, you’ve been lucky enough to avoid lazy or harried interviewers who consistently receive far too many applications for them to read.

While everyone who applies for a given job position deserves a fair shot, the truth of the matter is that at the end of the day, interviewers are just people.

And people are flawed, stressed out, and — above all — usually in some kind of hurry.

“I have to read 348 resumes in the next 48 hours while also delivering all this corn to Google’s International Headquarters! And prom’s tomorrow!”

That’s why two-page resumes have historically been viewed as bad — for a hiring manager at a large company who might typically receive over a hundred applications for any given listing, reading every resume closely just isn’t feasible.

But that doesn’t mean that two-pagers are always a bad thing.

In fact, there are a lot of situations in which a second page might be preferable, even with the added time this might take to read.

2. One-Page vs. Two Page Resumes: Pros and Cons

Whether you’re currently writing your resume or editing an existing one, at some point you’re going to have to consider it’s length.

Cuts are going to need to happen — your entire life’s worth of relevant work experience just isn’t going to fit on a single sheet of paper, unless you’re applying for your very first job ever.

“Well your resume is all on one page, which is nice, but the size 0.01 font you’ve used is somewhat of a drawback.”

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re deciding just how many cuts to make:

Pros & Cons of the One-Pager

  • The biggest benefit is that, once again, hiring managers and recruiters don’t have a ton of time to read an individual resume. Keeping it short and sweet increases the possibility that it will be read and remembered.
  • The short length helps you ensure that the only items that you’ll include will be relevant, as it can be easy to accidentally include a bunch of extraneous info that your interviewer doesn’t need to know.
  • One downside is that sometimes you genuinely need more space than one page will allow — forcing yourself to stick to just one page no matter what might cause you to leave out information or format your resume in an unattractive way (such as using way-too-small font).

Pros and Cons of the Two-Pager

  • Two-page resumes give you a little space to breathe as far as formatting and writing are concerned — without feeling as crunched for space, you’re able to have a little more freedom with font sizes and resume layouts to help you find the most attractive and useful way to present your resume.
  • If you’ve had a particularly long career, a two-page resume can often be a must.
  • The main issue with two-page resumes is outlined section 1 — namely, that it can be super easy to accidentally include information that your interviewer just doesn’t need to know, thereby losing their attention.

3. Important Things to Remember Before Making a Two-Page Resume

The easiest way to think about it is that if everything can fit on just one page, then that’s absolutely the resume size you should be working with.

If it’s at all close to one page, you should see if you can cut it down. Because while it’s perfectly fine to use two pages when necessary, you want to be totally sure that it is, in fact, necessary.

Anything over two pages, though? If it’s not a CV, you might as well just throw it out.

Standard business practices dictate that all resumes 3 pages or longer be printed out and mailed to this man in Michigan, Bill Sarsgard, who unhinges his jaw like a snake and eats them whole.

Three pages or more is just an unreasonable length of resume to expect a hiring manager to read in most situations — but even with a two-pager, there are certain things that you have to keep in mind.

Some of the biggest things to keep in mind when using two-page resumes:

  • If you’re taking up more space, you’re asking for more of your reader’s time and attention. That means that you have to be absolutely sure that everything you’re including past the first page is totally necessary.
  • You have more room to experiment with formatting, so do so! Segment your resume into easily scannable, digestible pieces, and make sure the whole thing looks good at a glance.
  • Organization is of utmost importance in this longer format, so make sure that the formatting is intuitive — more likely than not, that means putting everything in chronological order. Whether it’s reverse chronological or not is up to you.

Wrapping Up:

In a nutshell, keep the resume as short as it needs to be and you’ll never go wrong.

Unfortunately, that can be pretty subjective. What needs to be there and what doesn’t?

What skills of yours are of the utmost importance for you to get across, and what can you probably leave out?

“Some of my best attributes include how well organized I am as well as the fact that I’m always cosplaying as Father John Misty 100% of the time.”

The answer is that it’s situational — you’re going to have to do some research in your industry to see exactly what it is that people in that industry tend to look for in job applicants.

When in doubt, just make sure that however long your resume ends up being, that it doesn’t waste anybody’s time — least of all, your own.

Best of luck! Here are some other links to help you on your way:

3 Big Tips For (Avoiding) Lying On Your Resume
3 Interview Tips on How to Talk About Fast Paced Work Environments
3 Tips to Stop Selling Yourself Short at Work