One-Page or Two-Page Resume? Rules of Thumb To Help You Decide
Each time you send off your Resume, do you still wonder whether you’ve got the length right? Have you included too much information or not enough?
When you’re looking for a remote job, a well-written resume is of utmost importance. You want to make the best first impression, particularly when e-mail and document exchange is your first point of contact.
However, you’ve probably heard conflicting advice on what an appropriate length of your resume should be. One page or two? What’s considered ‘the norm’ nowadays; does a clear answer even exist?
We all know that hiring managers are busy people and you don’t want to demand any more of their time than absolutely necessary. This is generally why a one-page resume had long been considered the standard, particularly if you were fresh out of college or only had a few years of work under your belt. Even more experienced professionals have been advised to keep their resume to one page.
The good news is, sticking to a one-page resume has become less of a hard-and-fast rule and more of a flexible guideline. Some career experts will even claim that the one-page rule is all but dead, and two page resumes have come to dominate.
So before you sit down to revise your resume and adjust margins, shrink fonts, and be creative with bullet points, let’s look at a few good rules of thumb to go by.
Less Experience Generally Translates to a Shorter Narrative
When you’re drafting your own resume, it can be difficult to step back and know which information to leave in and which to cut out. You’ve worked hard over the years, sharpening your skills and you have a list of accomplishments to showcase. It’s only natural you want to include details describing every responsibility given and every award won dating back to high school.
And that approach is generally fine if you are a recent college graduate, or have been in the workforce for less than 5-10 years. At this stage of your career, you want to show that you have a well-rounded set of transferable skills and that you’re building your portfolio of work experiences.
So, go ahead and include your first job and your summer internship. Chances are you’ll be able to keep it comfortably to one page. And if you happen to spill over to the second page, take the tried and true advice and play a bit with the margins.
As a young professional, you usually haven’t acquired enough experience to justify a lengthy narrative. But if you just can’t shrink it down, don’t fret. If you’ve given your resume focused thought, you’ll likely be fine either way.
Seasoned Professionals Need to Customize
As you gain experience and years in the workforce, you usually begin to specialize and some of your prior jobs and accomplishments become less relevant to the roles you progress to. At this time, it makes sense to include only the key responsibilities and skills that are relevant to the position sought.
You’ve probably heard hundreds of times: customize, customize, customize. Customizing your resume to match the description of the job you are applying to is very important, as is the use of keywords throughout and it will help keep your resume succinct and to the point.
But while you want to include only the relevant information, cutting out key experiences for the sake of brevity is not necessary. No employer will nix you for going to page two if you are listing critical information. Just be aware, they may spend less time reading the second page, so be sure you use the chronological format rather than functional.
Make It Pleasing to the Eye
In a well-written resume, formatting is just as important as content.
Do you like to see text that is clear and pleasing to the eye as opposed to jumbled, bunched together or altogether illegible? Does a nice layout and breaks in text make you want to engage and read more? Chances are you will not spend much time on a document or brochure if it’s not clearly formatted.
You can bet the same is true for whomever is reading your resume. Employers and recruiters have only a short amount of time to read each resume, and sometimes an even shorter attention span when you throw in all of their other responsibilities.
Put in front of them a resume that’s hard to read, and you can be sure that it will be going straight to the bottom of the pile.
So, if you are spending your time trying to jam all of the information on one page while sacrificing formatting, stop yourself right there. An employer shouldn’t need a magnifying glass to get through your document. Keep the font large enough to be readable, headings clear, formatting consistent throughout, and leave enough white space to be able to skim through the resume comfortably.
Tell a Good Story
So, what is the take away?
Tell a good story that’s easy to read and you won’t have to worry about the length. Master storytellers know how to draw their audience in from the beginning.
A summary statement will give the employer a glimpse into your key skills and accomplishments and will tell them how you will add value to their organization. Add to it a clear and well laid out list of relevant experiences that ties in to what you want to do next, and you have yourself a winning resume.
Whether one page or two, when you do the math, it is the content and presentation that really counts. So, focus on creating a compelling and clear narrative and soon you’ll be counting down to start day, guaranteed.
About the Author
Natasha Kosoff is a certified career coach dedicated to helping others build fulfilling careers aligned with their true passions and strengths. She believes that all of us have unique skills and talents and the power to create and live our best professional lives.