Your one page resume may be working against you

Keeping your resume to one page is the general rule and for many candidates, this advice is good; however, there are absolutely reasons to have a resume that continues onto a second page in spite of the commonplace one-page rule.

Below, we spoke to a handful of career counselors and business strategists to get their insights on when and why a one page resume may actually be working against you.

Whether you’re a high level senior in your field, or you’re in the creative industry, we’ve laid out some of the reasons why you might want to consider extending your resume onto a second page.

When you have a lot of truly vital information

According to Hannah Gillitzer, SHRM-CP, Career Counselor and Speaker, a two page resume should be used when vital information will be left off of your resume if you condense it down to one page.

For example, mid to senior level professionals may need to list out more work experience, project leadership, certifications, awards, etc. on their resume in order to show that they are qualified for a senior level job.

“A good rule of thumb is if you can show the required knowledge/ skills/ experience needed to be qualified for a job in one page, keep it to one page,” Gillitzer adds.

When you’re sending a digital resume

“We have been conditioned to the old school, one-page resume. But in the current digital age, nothing is out of the picture. If a resume is going to be more than one page, it better tell a good story about what skills and experience you bring to the table,” explains Edwin Rubio, VP of Sales for VaporEmpire.com.

“If you effectively quantify your accomplishments in previous roles or projects in two pages, that’s time well spent. At the end of the day, size doesn’t matter. What matters is that you convey your qualifications in a compelling way, that’s easy on the eyes.”

When you’re drawing parallels between your experience and the job you’re applying for

“It’s absolutely okay to include a two-page resume. I want to know your qualifications that relate to your job at my company and what did you do and where were you successful,” says Jennifer L.. Foster, President of Catalyst Media Factory.

“I would much prefer you lay out your resume graphically and it be on two pages then you try to cram a novel on one page or forget to draw a parallel to how your work experience is relevant to our company.”

“I don’t want to have to guess at how what you’re presenting me relates to what I need you to do now,” she adds. “Limits are ridiculous. Use the space efficiently to convey what you think needs to be conveyed!”

When you’re able to hook your reader right away

According to Michele Olivier, Principal Consultant at O&H Consulting, if a candidate has a well written, efficiently and professionally formatted resume that focuses on the skills and experiences that employers care about no one is going to complain about longer resumes. 

“Because recruiters make their initial determination about whether a candidate has potential in 10-20 seconds people have interpreted that to mean they’ll only look at one page but this is absolutely untrue,” Olivier explains.

“What it means is that there needs to be sufficient information ‘above the fold’ (so top 1/3 of the first page) to grab their interest and put the candidate in the ‘potential’ category.” Once you’re past that hurdle, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy to read.

When you’re in a creative industry

“I don’t know who decided that your resume should be one page. When you need two pages for your resume, use two pages. It is your billboard! It should represent you the best it can,” says  Erwin Wils MSc, Mindset Coach and Business Strategist.

“It also depends on the person— when you are a creative person, like an animation designer, your resume could be an animation video. Don’t let somebody else tell you how to present yourself with your resume.”

… but never let it run more than two pages

According to Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., PHR Emeritus, Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources (Retired) at Doane University, many organizations—especially the smaller outfits—still screen resumes “by hand.”  And in that situation, screeners generally won’t have the time to spend reading and digesting overly-long resumes. 

“Faced with understandable time constraints when confronting several dozen (or possibly even a hundred or more) resumes for a single vacancy, they may simply relegate the lengthy ones to the discard pile.”

Wiedman also added that more experienced applicants (perhaps in their mid-30s and beyond who’ve held several previous positions and may have extensive credentials) should do their best to limit themselves to two pages; and while older applicants for executive positions are generally expected to have longer resumes, screeners will still value presentations that are clear and concise, but sufficiently comprehensive.