When it comes to creating an ideal resume, there are certain tips recruiters and hiring managers alike can agree on: Avoid errors, be consistent with your layout, and focus on action items as much as possible. But if there's one point of advice those same folks often disagree on, it's whether you can really get away with having a resume that's more than one page long.
Of course, for some people, limiting a resume to a single page is no problem. But what if you've been in the workforce for 20 years or more, and want to highlight your experience in various positions? Furthermore, what if every job you've held played a key role in helping you get to where you are today? In that case, is a lengthier resume justifiable? The answer is: It depends.
Why to stick to a single page
The logic behind keeping a resume concise is that most recruiters or hiring managers only have the time to skim that document, at least initially. What these professionals will often do is take a cursory glance at your resume, and then read it line by line if something piques their interest. However, if you make the document too long, it might turn off recruiters and hiring managers from the get-go.
Furthermore, having a resume exceed the one-page mark often means that you're not being judicious with the information you choose to include. Remember, just because you worked a certain entry-level position 10 years ago doesn't mean a prospective employer will care about it at present. The employer is apt to be more interested in the tasks you were responsible for at your last couple of jobs -- which means there's no need for an eight-line description of your original role to monopolize valuable real estate on that sheet of paper. In fact, limiting your resume to a single page is a good way to keep yourself in check, as it'll force you to prioritize what you include.
When a longer resume is acceptable
That said, there are some scenarios where you may not manage to cram your entire valid work history onto a single page. For example, if you've held several high-level positions, each of which entailed a different set of responsibilities, you'll want to include all of that information to prove that you're the well-rounded worker you claim to be.
Say you held several management positions, one of which focused on product development and another of which was marketing-oriented. If you're now applying for a vice president's role -- in other words, a level above your current one -- and you want to prove that you're experienced in both product development and marketing, you might need more than a single page to accomplish that.
Additionally, a longer resume is often needed if you job-hopped a lot during your career. If you omit certain employment information, you risk leaving a gap in your work history, which could turn off some potential employers.
Making the call
As a general rule, you can feel comfortable submitting a two-page resume instead of a one-pager as long as all of the information it contains is critical in explaining who you are and what you can do. So if you find that you've gone beyond the single-page mark, go through that document line by line and ask yourself: Is this piece of information truly important and relevant? If so, it stays; if not, it goes, until you've whittled that document down as much as possible.
One final thing: Sometimes, getting a resume to fit onto a single page is a matter of smart design-related decisions more than content-related ones. Play around with format, font sizes, and bullets before moving forward with a resume that appears to be on the lengthier side. Sometimes, all it takes is a little maneuvering to turn a longer resume into a neat one-pager.
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