How to Optimize a Two Page Resume

While keeping your resume to one page is easy enough if you have very little work experience, as you gain experience a single-page resume may not do the job of demonstrating the benefits you offer a potential employer. You want to be sure that your two-page resume doesn't prove a hindrance in the hands of a tired hiring manager.

Choose the Most Important Information for the First Page

Targeted Job Title

Creating a targeted job title is optional, however it creates a visual starting point for the body of your resume and succinctly states the position you're looking for. When stating a targeted job title, remember to ask yourself if your experience and qualifications are deserving of the title. If not, they should be.

Career Summary

Whether you title this section Career Summary, Professional Profile or Performance Profile, the objective remains the same, to clearly and precisely state your professional offerings and demonstrate your fit as a candidate for the position.

The Career Summary section should be limited to a few sentences that emphasize your relevant experience, skills and unique abilities. This is the perfect opportunity to incorporate keywords and keyword phrases to increase the likelihood that you're found in database searches. In addition, when your resume does meet with human eyes, your most notable assets will be readily visible.

The Job Objective

Sometimes referred to as a career objective, the job objective is a very important part of the resume in the absence of a targeted job title. In it, use one or two sentences to describe the position you're seeking, the level of challenge you desire or even the industry you'd like to work in.

The Skills or Core Competencies Section

This section of the resume uses a variety of headings. Skills. Core Competencies. Highlights of Experience. Qualifications. These are all appropriate titles for an overview or a keyword-rich list that gives a quick snapshot into what you have to offer.

There are several ways to approach the skills section.  From a layout perspective, bullets make navigating the information easier. If you choose short descriptive titles for this section, then two or three columns of equal length are very effective. It is preferable to use columns rather than a table. If the resume is scanned and converted by a computer, column layouts sort more accurately. Table layouts are often scrambled.

If short two or three-word key phrases get the message across, use them. At other times, it is more effective to use action-oriented sentences. These allow you to highlight your skills more descriptively. Whatever you choose to do, be consistent. Do not switch back and forth. Parallel format and consistent style will make your resume look sharp.

Work Experience

Try to fit your most recent work experience so it starts on the first page. By including work experience on the first page, the person reading the resume has enough information to decide whether they want to flip to the second page or not. Try, if you can, to make the break in information between two separate jobs. If this is impossible, then break between headings. Never split a bulleted list. It makes the resume look ragged. It also makes it harder for the reader to understand the context of the information when they turn to the second page.

As you list your work history, choose job experiences that demonstrate more than basic job skills. You should have already included your basic skills in the Skills/Core Competencies section. This is where you demonstrate how you benefited the company. Take that job description and provide short, punchy examples that demonstrate how you fulfilled the demands of the job.

Place This Information on the Second Page.

Additional Work Experience

Continue presenting your work experience on the second page. Don't fill this area with fluff for the sake of building more content. Everything on your resume should be there for a reason. It should demonstrate that you are the right candidate for the job. If it's just providing filler, it should not be there.

Education and Training

Not everyone can put a college degree on their resume. This is not an insurmountable obstacle. It is great if you can list a college and a degree, but if you can't take a careful look at classes, workshops and online training you may have completed. List certifications you have obtained, whether they were earned through a degree program or during on-the-job training.

You can also include information about a degree program you are currently enrolled in. For example, you can state, "Graduate studies in … in progress" or "Master's Degree in … anticipated" and give the date.

There is some discussion as to whether you should give the date you earned your degree. Nothing demonstrates a lack of experience more than a recently earned degree. On the other side, nothing shows age more quickly than a degree that was earned over 20 years ago. It is your decision. Not including the date is recommended by most state WorkSource offices.

If you have no college degree, no professional development or training and are not currently enrolled in an educational program, do not call attention to the things you lack. If your work experience demonstrates that you are upwardly mobile and have held positions of increasing responsibility, emphasize this instead. It is difficult to address the absence of a degree or a lack of formal education without sounding apologetic. Stay confident, believe in your abilities and focus on your strengths.

Professional Associations

This is an optional category. For some professions, it can validate your qualifications. For others, it just clutters the resume. If you choose to include this category, be sure that the memberships add value to your application.

Remember to Include These Features in a Two-Page Resume.

Footer

Because your resume has two pages, it is vital that you include a footer on the second page. The footer needs to include your full name and the page number. Some authorities recommend that you use the word "continued" as a footer on the first page as well. However, it is not necessary to designate the first page of your resume as "page one."

Content at Least Half-way Down the Page

Unless your content reaches the mid-point of the page, it just isn't worth having a two-page resume. It would be better to experiment with type size or font choices to see if you can reduce the size of the resume to one page and still have it look good. If that doesn't work, then increase the spaces between headings or increase the font sizes throughout the resume.

Ultimately, you want the person reading your two-page resume to feel that everything had to be there. If you accomplish this task, your two-page resume will not only be optimized, it will land you the interview.

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