Can My Resume Be Two Pages?
If you have a lot of experience, a two-page resume may be a good fit. Here’s how to find out what’s right for you.
By: Shyene Joubert | Contributor for Let’s Eat, Grandma
With the large-scale shift in many industries to remote work and the ever-changing landscape of job application documents, it can be difficult to know all of the dos and don’ts when writing your resume.
Determining how many pages your resume should be can be especially confusing. But that’s what we’re here for, job seeker!
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It used to be common practice to keep resumes to no more than a single page. In fact, it’s what my mother always told me when I was first applying for jobs. She said hiring managers wouldn’t have the patience to read through more than one page of information.
But that isn’t the case anymore. Many recruiters today are OK scanning through a two-page resume if a second page is truly necessary. One study even found that the 482 recruiters who participated were 2.3x more likely to prefer two-page resumes compared to one-page ones. These preferences are stronger for candidates in mid- and senior-level positions, which are roles that typically require more detail in the work experience sections. They also want more information to pitch your qualifications for a specific job opening.
Below is a general process you can follow to better understand whether your resume should be two pages or you should stick to one.
A Quick Guide to Help You Determine if You Should Have a Two-Page Resume
Our team created a flowchart to assist you in deciding whether or not your resume should be one or two pages long. Simply start at the top, answer each question, and follow the path to see where it takes you! The series of questions will force you to look at your document objectively to see if your circumstances warrant a two-page resume: how long have you been in this field, how many relevant positions have you held, and how many unique accomplishments can you list for each position?
If you followed the blue “Yes” from question to question, you ended up at the “Consider 2 Pages” option. If you had a mix of answers and ended on a red “No,” you should strive for a single page. There’s no right or wrong answer – both of these are suggestions and everyone’s situation is different! And, while it might seem obvious, being in the workforce longer doesn’t necessarily mean you should have a longer resume.
And before you use the chart, be sure to note the assumptions at the top: you might have more important issues to fix before you decide whether your resume can be 2 pages.
Only use this chart if:
- You are not writing an academic CV or a federal resume
- Your resume only has content that’s relevant to the jobs you’re applying for
- Your resume isn’t cramped and has plenty of white space between sections and bullets
- You’re following our recommendation to use a body font that is 10-12pt
- For a 2-page resume, you can cover at least half of the second page
The most important thing to remember about your resume is that it is a way to market yourself to potential employers. This chart will simply guide you towards a decision that gets you there.
Everyone is Different: Factors To Consider For a Two-Page Resume
Again, the flowchart above is just an example! It assumes certain factors: you’re writing a resume relevant to the industry you plan to apply in, the document has plenty of white space to break up the text, and you’re using a suitable font size. Any resume you make with this chart should be tailored with keywords, attractive, and easily skimmable.
And remember, if you have a lot of research or high education experience, a long list of relevant certifications, or publications and patents, you are an exception to the infographic above, because you might be thinking of an academic CV. These are often longer and use different conventions. Remember to always carefully read the job description to see what kind of a document you need to submit.
Because we are all individuals at different stages in our career, there are a variety of things to consider when determining if your resume can be two pages. Be sure to take into account the level you’re applying to, what industry you’re in, and if you’re moving into a new field altogether.
Job Level Matters
It’s a good rule of thumb to have a one-page resume if you have less than 10 years of experience because you’ll likely have shorter stints in a role or less accomplishments. (See the flowchart: “Are you 3 or fewer years out of college?” and “Does each job merit 3 or more unique bullet points?”) Entry-level positions also don’t usually require as much detail for evidence of your skills as the positions you’ll apply for later in your career.
Mid-level jobs can be tricky when determining if your resume can be two pages. The length depends on how many interesting highlights you can pull out of your experiences. If you go beyond a single page, you better have a substantial amount of information on the second page: you don’t want to have only a handful of sentences atop a sea of white. That just looks like sloppy formatting.
To fill up at least half a page on that second page, consider if you have additional relevant content to add. I suggest adding sections for your professional development courses or volunteering opportunities, categorizing your expertise, and including past work experiences (while still within 10-12 years).
Senior-level jobs will not only have more experience to showcase–in both work and additional experience sections–but also will have more complicated projects to explain. If you’re applying for a high-up role, such as a Senior Brand Strategist or Director of Operations, you will need to incorporate more metrics-based bullet points. Numbers catch readers’ eyes and provide clear impact.
High-profile executives might have 3+ pages for their resumes, but that is extremely rare and far exceeds the trending lengths. Even executives should parse down your experience within the last 10 to 15 years. You can also celebrate key achievements for each of those roles or even older ones you don’t include. If you’re a visual learner like me, check out this blog with executive-level resume samples!
Consider Your Industry
I’ve worked with a lot of people across many fields and the lengths of their resume varied greatly with their industries. While the level of detail you provide is ultimately up to you, it’s important to include information that will be valued in your particular industry.
For example, the flowchart calls out engineering, which is a highly technical field. I created a two-page resume for a recently graduated Ph.D. student in chemical engineering. Most of her work experience fell into two categories – research opportunities and internships – but all of her roles contained detailed explanations of her projects and their results. She also had multiple publications she wanted to showcase. We collaborated in choosing which information to include, as we wanted highlights that stood out to potential employers. It turned out a two-page resume was appropriate for her situation.
If you’re in IT, you might have signed NDAs, meaning you cannot discuss specific details or specific clients you worked for. This might cause your resume to be shorter, which is OK. In those cases, I recommend you still focus on things like frameworks you’re proficient in, how you partnered with different stakeholders to complete projects, and if you trained clients’ internal development teams.
Again, though, several factors can change page length within the same industry. One of my senior-level IT clients said he handles most of the hiring for his department, and he looks for particular certifications (by acronyms) and competencies. The quantity of required certifications and skills might still push a candidate over the one-page mark into a two-page resume.
If You’re Transitioning Careers
Just as the flowchart illustrates, it is OK to have a shorter resume if you’re recently changing careers. You want to emphasize information relevant to the new field you’re applying to rather than your old one; this could include new certifications or transferable skills to help you acclimate quickly to the position. This shows recruiters and hiring managers that, regardless of limited experience, you can contribute to the team.
Should you want to shift gears from hospitality to, say, customer service, you should focus on your strong interpersonal skills. You understand how to build rapport with people and meet their needs in a thoughtful manner. Give a few examples in your most recent positions!
In creative writing workshops I took, my professors said, “You have to kill your darlings.” The same goes for resume writing. While you might have a lot of impressive experience specific to your old industry, it won’t all be relevant to the new direction you’re headed. That means you’ll have to kill your darlings by removing old work experiences, certifications, and skills not needed in the job listings you’re interested in. That all might bump your resume back down to one page.
Tips for Slimming a Two-Page Resume Down to One Page
If you went through the flowchart and ended up with a “Strive for One Page,” it’s likely best to cut your resume down to that shorter length – even if you have a two-page resume right now. Here are some tips for this:
- Eliminate filler words, including function words (ex. “a,” “that,” and “the”) or unnecessary adjectives (ex. “accurately” and “efficiently”).
- Choose impressive highlights from all of the roles on your document – and don’t repeat the same projects more than once. If you’re in marketing, it’s obvious you worked on campaigns throughout your career, so try to focus on unique campaigns.
- Include both metrics and results to save space and spice up vague descriptions. For instance, you can say “12 countries” versus “one dozen countries.”
- Start all of your bullet points with active verbs. This allows you to cut out even more filler words by replacing “Responsible for driving business growth” to “Drive business growth.”
- Cut unnecessary information, such as your physical address or your references.
- Narrow your margins, though we don’t suggest going smaller than 0.5”.
- Shorten your summary of qualifications section by removing the bullet points and presenting it in one paragraph. If you do this, you’ll want to use bolded text or other visual features like title casing to make the beginning of each sentence stand out.
So, What Did You Decide? Do You Need a Two Page Resume or a One-Pager?
After reading through this post, maybe you decided it’s a good idea to condense some sections of your resume to make it fit on one page. Or perhaps you now know that one reason you haven’t received a callback is because you’re not providing enough information, and your resume actually should be two pages.
Use this chart, the job postings, and your best judgment to determine whether your resume should be two pages or one at this point in your job search.
You can always refer back to the flowchart above to guide you as you move forward in your career.
If you need help finessing your resume to fit onto one page or beefing up the content to showcase your 10+ years of experience, any one of our experienced resume writers will be happy to assist!
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