How to write a great two-page resume

For decades, there were some hard-and-fast rules about how you should write a resume: good-quality stationery, a rigid reverse-chronological format, only one page long. But as hiring and applying have changed over the past 10-15 years by going digital, so have those rules. What the “rule” now comes down to is this: your resume should be a lean, mean snapshot of your professional life.

Most resumes are read either by robots or people using different devices, so the length is now much less of an issue. After all, an applicant tracking system doesn’t care how long your resume is–it cares about what’s in it. So let’s walk through some strategies for crafting a great two-page resume.

4 steps to writing a long resume to get you hired

1. Focus on content over length

Unless you’re making an academic CV or an IMDB page, you don’t need to include everything you’ve ever done. That said, one page can feel like an artificial constraint. The happy medium is expanding slightly to go in-depth where necessary (like your skills or your work experience) without having to obsess over fractional font sizes and margins that end up looking ridiculous. Tailor your work experience bullet points to the job you’re applying for now, including only relevant information.

With two pages you have a bit more space to play with, but you should still give careful consideration to which elements you want to include. For example, two pages may give you more space up front to craft a significant summary statement instead of a pithy one-line objective. Use your extra space to make your narrative even clearer.

2. Use the extra space to your advantage

Too much white space can make a resume look skimpy, but some
white space is also key for readability. Even if your resume goes through automated
system to identify it for further rounds of review, it will (ideally) make it
to a pair of human hands at some point. This means it has to be functionally
good, but also presentable. Use your two pages to create a clear outline, with
well-defined bullet points that are concise and easy for any reader to follow.

Resumes that look like solid bricks of text often end up in
the “I don’t have time for this” pile, so an eye-catching, highly readable
format will help you position your resume well. Remember that the average
hiring manager spends mere seconds looking at a resume to start, so you want to
grab and keep attention any way you can. Boosting readability is an easy way to
do this.

3. Make your resume a cohesive document

You don’t need to put your full contact info on each page, but it’s not a bad idea to include page numbers in a footer or a header, with your email address on the second page. That way, if your resume gets printed but the pages are somehow separated, the reader won’t be left mystified about why your work experience suddenly leaves off in the middle of 2015.

4. Make sure you’re telling a story

You’re asking the reader to stick with you through more than one page of text, so it’s important to stay on message and make sure you’re using every inch of that space to sell yourself. Start your resume by setting a clear message (again, a summary statement or an objective really helps here), and make sure that every section of your resume supports that story.

A two-page resume is an opportunity to expand on your experience and achievements, and declutter your crowded one-page resume. As long as you pay careful attention to what you’re including and how, it can be a great asset for your job hunt.

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