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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

Is it OK to have a two-page resume?

10 min read
Is it OK to have a two-page resume?
Artwork by:Liza Gagarina
The temptation to increase your resume to two pages is real, but is it the right thing to do? For a director-level job seeker, the answer will be yes, but what about everyone else? If you do opt for two pages, make the most of them.

With every job search comes missed opportunities. You wish you had said something during an interview, or you regret that you missed a certain deadline to submit an application. However, there is one critical choice that you do need to get right. There’s always the opportunity to expand your resume to two pages, but when is it appropriate and when should it be avoided?

When to use a two-page resume is a question that is worth serious consideration.

When a resume is longer, it is harder to pick out the highlights and you risk an interviewer picking on the aspects of your experience that you would rather remain in the shadows. Many interviewers (sadly) take an approach of looking for reasons why not to hire you – so why give them more potential ammunition?

Well, in many cases there are simply too many benefits to a two-page resume to ignore. We explore the pros and cons of this vital choice and consider the following:

  • Shouldn’t every resume be 2 pages anyway?
  • When to use a two-page resume
  • Format tips for an efficient two-page resume
  • Reasons why some employers prefer 2-page resumes

By the end of the blog, you will hopefully understand the right choice for you.

Expert tip

The recruitment ATS will appreciate a two-page resume. One thing to consider is that your resume will not only be read by humans. If the job description is particularly demanding in terms of skills and experience, a benefit of a two-page resume will be that the ATS software is likely to pick up on more keywords. 

Should a Resume Be 2 Pages?

Much as everyone has their own opinions about job search etiquette, there are very few unbreakable rules about how you present your content. People who insist that resumes “should” be either one or two pages are likely the same sorts of people who insist that you must wear a tie or heels to an interview. 

Your resume can be two pages if you feel that your career story warrants it. Equally, if you decide that you want to go for a focused and powerful impact, one page will often also be enough. 

Are There Specific Rules About Resume Length?

As mentioned above, your resume should be long enough to contain everything that a hiring manager needs to know, but not too long that they fall asleep reading it.

There are certain roles that specify length of resume (many entry-level jobs will ask for a one-page resume) and if this is the case, then a job seeker would be foolish to do anything other than what has been requested. 

There are two golden resume length rules for every job seeker: 

  1. If there are parts of your two-page resume that you would rather not talk about at an interview, consider cutting it down to one page.
  2. If you are failing miserably to cram your (relevant) experience into one page - reducing fonts and omitting your education and certifications – opt for an extra page.
Expert tip

Four reasons why employers prefer two-page resumes:

  1. If an employer (or recruiter) is interested in you, they want to find out more.
  2. Two pages offers more depth to help them to decide who to move forward with.
  3. Resumes with 2 pages are often easier to read at a glance during an interview.
  4. The costs of the business of making a bad hire are simply too great.
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When to Use a Two-Page Resume

Here are a few thoughts to guide you in making your decision:

1. Consider 2 pages when there is a demanding job description.

When the job description seems insanely complicated, it tends to indicate that the level of detail throughout the process will be high. If you feel that you need two pages to address the points in the job description, the employer will likely appreciate your effort. They wouldn’t write a mega JD and expect a half-baked resume in return.

2. Two-page resumes are needed when you are omitting critical details.

We all know the feeling when we go to bed and our brains just can’t switch off. If we have just written a one-page resume and we close the laptop with thoughts of “why didn’t I include that?” then consider including an extra page. Sure, there will always be more that you can say, but if you are omitting details that are keeping you up at night, then take the plunge. 2-page resume here you come.

3. Applicants with 10+ years of experience often require two pages.

It would be strange if you have been working for fifteen years and do not have career accomplishments to fill two pages of a resume. A one-page resume for someone of this seniority would certainly set off alarm bells. If you have had the luck to only work for one employer, maybe split your work experience into the respective positions that you undertook. Give depth to your accomplishments and quantify where possible.

4. Technical or academic roles need space for the depth of experience.

Two or more pages for a resume is standard in academic or technical roles where your calibre can be measured by the research that you have contributed to your academic community and the qualifications and certifications you have amassed along your technology journey. These are your badge of honor, and should certainly be given their due amount of space in a resume.

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Format Tips for a Two-Page Resume

There are a few considerations for a two-page resume that are worth some thought:

All the reasons to hire you need to be on the first page. Just as the summary should contain the key messages of your resume, the first page should contain the very best bits. It should be reverse-chronological to show the most recent roles, the skills section needs to be here and ideally a couple of your most recent roles.

Both pages should be packed with relevant keywords and achievements. While the first page is important to grab a client’s attention, this doesn’t mean that page two should drop off in intensity. The roles might be a little less recent, but that doesn’t mean that your accomplishments are worth less.

List additional information – education, certifications, etc, on page two. Your future employer will definitely be interested in your education and personal development, so they will certainly move on to page two to find these aspects of your application. It is expected that they are at the end of any resume – they will be found.

Don’t feel that you have to fill page two entirely. This is a controversial one. Some people might say that if page two is not full of content, an employer could conclude that you do not have much else to talk about. Others (including myself) feel that it is more important to only include the most relevant parts of your application as that will dictate the content of the interview. Don’t include unimpressive filler phrases.

Include contact details on both pages, but don’t repeat the summary. As a matter of practicality, you should include contact details on both pages. True, it will be viewed as a single electronic document, but taking another opportunity to put your email and mobile number in front of your potential future boss isn’t a bad thing.

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Key Takeaways

  • Whether or not to write a two-page resume is a question many job seekers face.
  • While traditional advice was always to stick with one page, there are distinct advantages in having a 2-page resume.
  • In general, if you are a recent grad or early on in your career, condensing your experience into one page is still the way to go.
  • Senior-level professionals with 10+ years of experience will likely opt for the 2-page.
  • As young professionals pack their early careers with more experiences and personal development than ever before (with the proliferation of online learning), the two-page resume is increasingly popular.

Is it the right choice for you? Hopefully you can now make an informed decision.

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Build your resume in 15 minutes
Build your resume in 15 minutes
Use professional field-tested resume templates that follow the exact ‘resume rules’ employers look for.
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