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One or two page resume?

By Gina Watson

There are two factors that could help you decide whether you need a two-page resume:
  • Your experience is vast and cannot be contained within a single page.
  • You have had at least one career change in the course of your working life and have notched up significant transferable experience.

Your resume is a fact sheet that acts as an introduction to you and more importantly, gets you an interview. Given this, your resume should not only list your accomplishments faithfully, it should also make you stand out from among other applicants.

When reviewing your resume, keep in mind that it will be read by someone who is fairly inundated with applications. Most aggressively advertised jobs will receive hundreds of applications; some of these may be better than yours. You need to grab and hold the attention of the person sorting these resumes and who is very likely to be in a bored frame of mind.

What usually works in getting the employer's attention is:
  • A resume that is well-written and conveys the value proposition that the employer wants to see in potential recruits.
  • A resume that is successful in conveying to the employer that you have what he/she needs.
However, certain categories of job seekers, for example, fresh graduates, may not have enough experience to merit a two-page resume. As a fresh graduate, there is really no point to listing details of your job as a baker's assistant, for example, when you were finishing high school unless you are able to prove some kind of significant learning from it.

Significant Prior Work Experience

In the case of a recent graduate with a prior work history, the previous experience can be consolidated in one cohesive block of text. This practice can be effectively used for someone with significant prior experience and who is looking for jobs after a recent legal degree. Usually in such cases, the sheer breadth of experience merits two pages.

Apart from the number of years spent working, such candidates also bring with them resourcefulness and sophisticated management abilities. Their communication skills are also better developed to allow them to handle sensitive or complicated matters. Some candidates may have excellent interpersonal skills, such as when required to deal with government personnel or key decision makers. There are bound to be several other transferable skills that can boost the candidacy of such applicants.

Use your personal discretion to decide whether you need to include really old information or not. For example, if you have 32 years of experience, there is no need to mention that you worked as a runner for the local bank during your summers. Go through your resume carefully to decide on the redundant and useful aspects of your work history.

A two-page resume is also useful when listing particular cases or incidents that represent the candidate's ingenuity and presence of mind, especially while dealing with complicated matters. This can include volunteer and community work as well, if they are relevant to the position being applied to.

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