One of the most debated questions among resume writers: should a resume be one page or two pages long? A two-page resume has the room to include all the information you need for a lot of work experience, but the one-page resume is so tailored and compact. Which one is best?
The truth is that your resume’s length should depend on a variety of factors. Moreover, your goal should always be to keep your resume as relevant as possible. The key is to know when to use a one-page resume, and when to rely on the two-page variety.
Should a resume be one page?
The answer to this seemingly simple question may not be as obvious as some imagine. Anyone who has ever sat down to write a resume understands that the process can quickly get out of hand.
For workers with any serious amount of experience–5+ years, for example–that resume seems to expand of its own accord. Add in your skills, education, and other details, and you soon find yourself fighting to limit it to two pages.
Most employers must sift through dozens or even hundreds of resumes to fill a position. It’s only natural that they would prefer shorter, more focused resumes. Obviously, shorter resumes often translate into an easier selection process for them.
Since your goal should be to give employers what they want to see, specific. The faster you can prove you’re qualified for a job, the better your chances are to earn an interview.
There can, however, be drawbacks to using a one-page resume. Any job that calls for a great deal of experience is likely going to require a two-page resume. Of course, if you’re a seasoned employee, your relevant experiences probably won’t fit on one page. That’s especially true for candidates seeking managerial posts or other leadership positions.
When in doubt, it’s important to remember that quality matters more than quantity. In fact, there are many times when a one-page resume simply cannot meet your needs. Here’s the caveat: most companies today use an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) to parse your resume. These systems automatically screen your resume to see if you’re a good match for the position. An average of 75% of candidates are rejected by ATS and many times the candidate is qualified but the resume isn’t optimized for these scans.
An ATS-optimized resume is:
- Properly formatted
- Includes relevant keywords, ideally multiple times
- Provides enough context to communicate your value
- Is focused on the specific job you are applying for
In many cases, a two-page resume is required to check off all those points. Otherwise, you risk cutting out crucial information such as keywords, required qualifications, or your degree.
When should I use a one-page resume in 2021?
A two-page resume is currently your best choice. However, there are plenty of exceptions to that advice. You should use a one-page resume in these situations:
- When you are an entry-level candidate
- When you don’t have much relevant experience
- When you can’t think of how to fill more than one page on your resume or when your resume is only a few lines more than one page
- When you can fit all your most relevant experience on one page
If you’re struggling to fill two pages with relevant information, you’re better off with a targeted one-page resume. Not everyone has two pages worth of skills and experience. If you’re one of these people, it is perfectly acceptable to use a one-page resume in 2021.
One-page resume example
Benefits of a one-page resume
A one-page resume offers many benefits, despite its limited length. For example:
- Properly done, a one-page resume offers a concise, focused showcase of your qualifications
- One-page resumes offer greater clarity
- A one-page resume can stand out in a crowd littered with longer, less-focused resumes
One-page resumes are also standard in many networking situations. This type of resume can be called a networking resume or a summary resume, and is an abbreviated version of your full resume.
Tips for keeping your resume as short as possible
In many instances, resumes end up being longer than they need to be. Unfortunately, an unnecessarily long resume can cause the reader to lose interest. The good news is that most resumes can be shortened with a little practice.
The following tips can help you to reduce the length of your resume and make it clearer and more concise, whether you’re just over one page or anywhere over two pages.
- Focus only on relevant experience, resume skills, and achievements. Resist the urge to include everything you’ve ever done.
- Use bullet points. Most hiring managers skim resumes in only a few seconds. Bullet points offer an easier way for them to digest key details.
- Shorten your education section to just a few bullet points. The only exception is if you are just entering the workforce and need to expand your education section to reach one full page!
- Limit your resume summary to no more than 4 to 6 lines of text. Leave the rest for your cover letter or LinkedIn profile.
- When it comes to resumes, job descriptions are less important than measurable achievements at a job. Don’t include information that anyone with your job title would do: either add more information or delete it.
- Skip the “references upon request,” interests, volunteer work, hobbies, and other irrelevant information from resumes that are just over one or two full pages.
- Adjust font size and margins, within reason. Your margins shouldn’t be smaller than .5 and your font should be between 10 and 14 points.
A one-page resume is a good place to start for most new job seekers. If your resume goes over one page, double-check it for relevancy. You can use two pages if you can fill it with worthwhile information, but your resume generally should not exceed two pages.