Resume Length: The Debate Over One– and Two-Page Resumes

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When it comes to resume length, for years the rule of thumb was not to exceed one page. Living in a world with short attention spans that is dominated by texting and Twitter, however, changes the rules. Since the resume has taken the place of the initial interview, the trend is toward two-page resumes. Because of this, choosing the right length and getting your resume noticed is what lands more job interviews.

When to keep your resume length to one page

Limiting your resume to one page is often optimal if you are a recent college graduate or are seeking an entry–level position. If any of the following situations apply, you should use a one-word resume:

  • You do not have relevant work experience to fill more than one page.
  • Your resume is focused on coursework and leadership roles that are associated with the job you are seeking.
  • You are required to meet the expectations of a job fair or an employer.

The two-page resume

A one-page resume that is packed with information is less prudent than a two-page resume that is well organized and easy to read. If you are a recent graduate or are seeking an entry-level position, you may prepare a two-page resume as long as it is relevant and persuasive. Consider a two-page resume if the following reasons are applicable:

  • Your relevant jobs, internships, extracurricular activities and leadership roles correlate with the job you are seeking.
  • Your work experience ranges between 5 – 10 years or longer, or you held jobs or positions with varying duties.
  • You are seeking a position that requires a special skill (i.e. technical, scientific or engineering).
  • You are an executive or senior-level manager and intend to use the second page of your resume to include a record of leadership responsibilities and accomplishments.

The reality of resume lengths

In reality, most resumes are not read in their entirety regardless of the length. While you must consider the length, focus on quality of the content. Recruiters scan your resume for less than one minute looking for specifics (i.e., your level of education, your job title, where and for long you have worked and your skill set). Therefore, strive for readability. Concise writing, good organization and brief lists with bullet points are easily skimmed.

Whether you prepare a one- or two-page resume, follow traditional resume formatting, regardless of the resume layout you choose. Focus on the top half of the first page of your resume, and create a strong impact “above the fold.” If you are submitting a two-page resume, make sure you have two pages of pertinent information.

If you find yourself cramming information on the page, expanding margins or reducing font size, use a two-page resume if it applies rather than creating a visibly unappealing one-page resume. However, never include superfluous information to stretch your resume to two pages. In resume writing, less is more. Therefore, edit, edit and edit until your resume is as close to perfect as possible.

Hiring managers read the details of your resume, so your resume is ready when it speaks articulately for you. Whatever your resume length, it needs to stay clear and compelling. Make your resume distinctive to see an impressive response rate in obtaining face-to-face interviews.