Many professionals have been told from the time they crafted their first resume senior year of college to keep it to one-page only. In many cases, this makes sense for someone fresh out of university or an entry-level employee, as your career grows, your resume can follow along with it.
In fact, there are plenty of reasons to consider a two-page resume, and in some instances, it can help you land an interview. Before you start rattling off every-last-job you’ve had—from ice cream scooper in high school to that freelancing gig while studying abroad in Europe—it’s important to only expand your professional rap sheet if it makes sense. And more to the point: is warranted.
Here, career coaches shed insight on when it’s time to have a two-page resume:
You’re an executive
After a decade (or more) of burning the midnight oil, raising your hand for more responsibility, and leading teams through structural changes and projects, you’ve earned a seat at the executive table. For those experienced professionals with a career record that spans 10, 20, or more years and includes multiple roles within one or many companies, it’s nearly impossible to put everything on one page. Consider each position should have four to five bullet points to illustrate your results, achievements, and accomplishments, according to executive resume writer and career expert Wendi Weiner, it’s easy to bleed to another page. And hey, that’s okay!
“Keep in mind that the further back you go in your work history, the more remote things become,” she continues. “So, a two-page resume will be appropriate to showcase career highlights, executive and leadership value, as well as showcasing the relevant continuing education and training you’ve encountered along the way.”
You’re hoping to attract the attention of a recruiter
Many senior managers and executive-level professionals work with recruiters to source coveted positions. The same is true for companies that are looking for very specific candidates to fill critical roles. This makes it important for job-seekers to find effective recruiters to land them dream gigs. And in a competitive market, you need to stand out more than ever.
According to Amanda Augustine, a career expert for TopResume, a 2018 study revealed that recruiters typically prefer two-page resumes over one page, regardless of their job level. Though this doesn’t mean you should automatically try to fill two pages if you don’t have content, it should alleviate some of the stress you feel when going from a single to a double-sided. Many believe since recruiters spend only a hot second blazing through resumes, it should be as short as possible. The opposite is actually true, Augustine says. “You want your resume to cover the important details that support your candidacy as succinctly as possible,” she continues. “However, the last thing you want to do is cram valuable information into a single page with a tiny font size and narrow margins. Given that recruiters skim over resumes in such a short amount of time, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to quickly pull out the details that matter most to them—without going cross-eyed in the process. A two-page resume will often allow you to create the necessary white space to strike this visual balance.”
You made a career pivot
Before you decided to head to business school, you were a marketing manager. Or, you thought you wanted a career in investment banking, but then decided to go to law school. You started on the veterinarian path, but then you decided it was financially smarter to pursue software development. Whatever the case, Weiner says those who have made a significant career pivot may need a two-page resume to explain their journey.
“The key is to consider if it fits into what you do now and how you can leverage it to highlight your value and overall story,” she shares. “If you are making a career pivot into a new industry, you will want to showcase those transferrable skills, which may require increased length and deference of that experience. Your earlier career experience can be highly relevant—so do not rule it out.”
You have more relevant information to share
Editing down your resume is part of the tricky process every professional goes through. But there’s a difference in cutting out unnecessary nuggets—and going to town with a red pen. That’s why Augustine recommends being mindful and honest when it’s time to update your document. Start by evaluating every position you’ve held over the course of your career with your current job in mind. Of course, the idea is to tell the best version of your story by showcasing all of the ways you’re qualified for the gig at stake. As you read line-by-line, do you find yourself wanting to add more examples? If so, it may be time to add on another page. “This will help you determine what details to include or further elaborate on, and which details to minimize or remove altogether. If you have enough relevant information to share with employers that warrants a second page, then, by all means, use it,” she adds.
You are heavily involved in the community
It’s not only executives who need a two-pager. Sometimes, four-year or business school graduates can benefit from this resume approach. Particularly if you were heavily involved in extracurricular groups that employers find attractive, according to Augustine. These include, but are not limited to, internships, co-ops, campus activities, sports teams, volunteer work, and leadership programs. You can even organize by your contribution, allowing you more space to articulate why these items define your professional brand.