Should You Use a Two Column Resume

Should You Use a Two Column Resume

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There are tons of different resume formats out there. A quick Google search of “resume examples” will turn up many hundreds of different resume formats and designs. One common resume design consists of two columns rather than the traditional one-column resume. Should you be using a two-column resume? Is there any benefit to using a two column resume?

Not really and it could actually be doing you more harm than good.

We’ll show you why you should avoid using a two column resume and examples of how to format your resume.


 4 Reasons Not To Use a Two-Column Resume


Here is an example of a Two-Column resume:


Two Column Resume Example



#1 – They Don’t Work Well With ATS System

Most companies today use ATS (Applicant Tracking System) software to automatically scan your resume. These systems scan the content on your resume to see if you’re a good fit for the position. Many times a candidate is qualified but their resume isn’t optimized for the ATS scans. ATS systems reject nearly 75% of resumes submitted.

You run the risk of getting rejected by those systems when you use a two column resume. Use of non-traditional formats confuses many of those programs.


ATS Resume Test 

You can see how your resume performs in an actual ATS scan with our Free Resume Review:

Free Resume Review


They don’t appreciate colorful text, creative border designs, columns, or any of those other tricks you might consider for your resume. Instead, the typical ATS wants to see black and white pages filled with text and white space. And that fact is that you have to give these machines what they want. Otherwise, you will never get your resume past the machine and into human hands.

The following should never be included on a resume:

  • Charts
  • Columns
  • Graphs
  • Tables
  • Graphics and Info-graphics
  • Images
  • Icons
  • Illustrations
  • Logos
  • Fancy Fonts

Including any of the items above will make it difficult for an ATS to screen your resume.

Creative resumes will do you more harm than good.


#2 – Hiring Managers Prefer a Standard Format

Hiring and recruiters can go through hundreds of resumes a week. They spend an average of 6 seconds viewing your resume before deciding to look into it further or reject it.

They are used to a traditional single column resume and could quickly locate the information they’re looking for. Although a two-column resume may not be difficult to process – we’re talking about seconds here. You have a few seconds to make an impact and using a two-column resume that makes it just a little more difficult to process could get you rejected.


#3 – Formatting Gets Distorted

Although the two-column resume may look good on your computer – it could look very different to someone else opening the file. Many use a PDF to prevent these distortions but should always send your resume in Word unless they specifically ask for PDF.

When you use a two-column resume in Word, you run the risk of the file getting distorted if someone opens your resume in another version of Word or any other processor.


#4 – It’s Just Not Necessary 

A common reason some may want to use a two-column resume is because they think it gives them more space. It’s just not true – you can fit the same amount of content in a one-column resume without risking all the points mentioned above.

Most hiring managers and ATS systems prefer a one-column resume – stick to it!



A Good One-Column Resume:



Accounting Resume Template One-Column.


This is a good standard resume format and design that hiring managers are used to.

These are the sections you need to include on a resume:

  • Summary
  • Skills
  • Work Experience
  • Education
  • Other Information (Licenses, Projects, Volunteer – Etc.)


Good luck with your job search!

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