One- or two-page resumes: Which is better?

One- or two-page resumes: Which is better?

The debate over one- or two-page resumes is relatively new when considering the history of using resumes. For years, one of the cardinal rules for job-seekers was, “Keep your resume to one page; HR managers are too busy for more, and they won’t even look at two-page resumes.” Today, however, experts say there is a time and place for a single page, but at other times a two-page version is preferable. Knowing when each is most appropriate can help make your resume stand out from the crowd.

Deciding on a one- or two-page resume

According to a CareerBuilder poll of over 2,000 human resource professionals, 66 percent of employees say recent graduates or entry-level workers, including those making a career switch to a field in which they have limited experience, should stay with one page. Experts point out that job seekers have about six seconds to make the “for consideration” stack, so it’s important to use that page to tell a compelling story of relevant experience and education.

In the same CareerBuilder study, 77 percent of the respondents showed a preference for a two-page resume for experienced workers — those with 10 or more years of relevant experience. While most hiring managers and HR workers expect a multi-page resume from seasoned workers, experts remind applicants that the person reviewing the resume will probably give the first page the most attention, so it’s important to make wise placement choices, putting the most pertinent details at the beginning.

Content trumps length in the one- or two-page resume debate

When creating a resume, use all the space needed to share information, but keep things concise and on-point. A resume is like the descriptive blurb on the back of a book: just enough to grab the readers’ attention and make them want to know more, without revealing the whole story. Fifty-seven percent of hiring professionals want to read about current experience within 10 years of the application, so there’s no need to list that high school job if you’re a more seasoned employee. A resume isn’t a checklist of completed tasks but a persuasive detailing of experience, credentials, and training that that matches the desired position.

Format is also important. A resume needs to be easy on the HR manager’s eyes. Don’t over-extend the margins or over-condense the text just to limit it to one page. Keep the content organized; remember, organization is a valuable work skill, so show yours off with a well-designed resume. Skip the cute decorative papers, but choose a good-quality resume paper and an easy-to-read font. If the second page has only one or two lines, edit the content to fit on a single page.

When submitting a hard-copy resume, it’s important that the printer produces clear, legible pages. Print in business-like black or dark blue ink, rather than reds, greens, or other colors that may be hard on the eyes.

Make the most of a two-page resume

If you have carefully checked that your resume’s content is phrased succinctly, and you still need a second page, then use it. Follow a few simple tips to make it as effective as possible:

  • It isn’t necessary to fill all the extra space
  • Number the pages
  • Repeat your name and contact information on each page
  • Avoid repeating skills and experiences from the first page on the second page
  • Use the second page for publications, conference presentations, and similar accomplishments
  • Consider alternatives to straight text, such as pie charts, timelines, and graphs
  • If submitting the resume electronically, make sure graphics will transmit clearly
  • Print on one side of the paper only
  • Paperclip the pages to make photocopying or scanning easier on HR staff

The answer to the question, “one- or two-page resumes: which is better?” is both, depending on the situation. Keep the information relevant to the position, write succinctly, organize well, make sure you have plenty of ink and toner, and use whatever length you need to tell your story.