Sorting out the one-page resume conundrum

Year in and year out, the one page resume is touted in any number of media reports as the recommended length for an effective resume. For job candidates who are doing their best to stay informed on trends in resume preparation and who happen to come across such articles, this may well result in some head scratching and the understandable question, “Well, should I prepare a one-page resume or not?”

In my opinion based on many years of reviewing and preparing client resumes – and like so many things in life, it depends.

There are certainly situations where a one page resume is advisable, such as for someone who has minimal or no work experience, or for someone who is looking to create an abbreviated version for certain situations where a compact resume is preferred or requested.

However, having worked with hundreds of clients across numerous industries and employment sectors, I can tell you that for most experienced career professionals – sometimes even those with just five years of experience – a two-page resume is what is required in documenting one’s experience sufficiently. With a two-page resume, there is room to better accommodate vital work history information, as well as an extended summary information in situations where one is seeking to change careers. Simply stated, at a certain point in one’s career you just need more room to convincingly present critical details about your work history.

Another benefit of a two-page resume is that there is less chance of under-presenting information or including information that creates more questions than it answers simply because there is room to provide more detail.

Many times, taking extreme issues on a position is what sells or what makes the article memorable. However the reality is that in day to day life there are many topics that as a necessity involve some gray areas; in my experience, the issue of one-page vs two-page resumes is certainly one of them.

If you can make a one-page resume work without jeopardizing your ability to positively influence an employer, then go for it. However, if using a one-page resume means that you have too many positive aspects left out, then I say use the longer resume version. I write mostly two-page resumes as I tend to work with more experienced clients, and I cannot recall a single instance where a client was passed over for a job opportunity because of submitting a two-page or longer resume to an employer instead of a one-page resume.