To debate whether one-page resumes are more effective than two-page resumes feels a lot like mysteriously waking up in 1995. Thanks to the Internet, most professional profiles are viewed on websites like LinkedIn, making the actual length mostly irrelevant. Automated sourcing tools make length even less important.
From October 15 to November 2, 2018, ResumeGo, a professional resume writing service, conducted a study including 482 professionals. The company says that everyone in the report had direct experience with employee recruitment and were either recruiters, hiring managers, human resources professionals, or C-suite level executives. Participants went through a hiring simulation where they screened resumes for a variety of positions.
Half of the resumes used in the test were one page in length. The other half were two pages in length. All the resumes were printed on an 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. One-page resumes varied in length from 350 to 500 words while two-page resumes varied in length from 700 to 850 words.
And the Winner is …
The myth that recruiters are likely to skip lengthier CVs may now officially be busted. According to the survey, recruiters are 2.3 times as likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes. Specifically, out of the 7,712 resumes that participants chose in the simulated hiring process, a whopping 5,375 of these resumes were two pages in length.
For those recruiting for executive talent, this won’t be a surprise. Longer resumes are commonplace for executive-level searches, as it’s hard to fit decades of experience into a single page. The traditional school of thought that entry-level candidates should only provide a one-page resume may also be false. ResumeGo said employers are 1.4 times as likely to prefer two-page resumes over one-page resumes when it came to entry-level job openings.
A survey from staffing firm Accountemps last year asked managers what the ideal resume was for a staff-level hire. Nearly the same portion of respondents said two pages was ideal as chose one page: 47 percent and 46 percent, respectively. Twenty years ago, respondents preferred one-pagers by a three-to-one margin.
Tech recruiter Brianna Rooney told CBS MoneyWatch that she almost never receives a single-page resume these days. Usually, when she does, she goes back to the candidate to ask for more information. “I’ve had companies pass on people because there’s no detail. To them, they’re thinking, there’s no detail, therefore there’s no passion.”
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Two-pagers also scored higher than one-page resumes. After reviewing each resume, participants were asked to score each on a 10-scale based on how well the resume was able to “summarize the candidate’s work experiences and overall credentials.” Two-page resumes scored 21 percent higher with an average score of 8.6, compared to an average score of 7.1 for one-page resumes.
Moreover, the popular opinion that recruiters will only spend a few seconds reviewing each resume may now be in question. ResumeGo’s study found that staffing professionals were spending two minutes and twenty-four seconds on one-page resumes, but were committing four minutes and five seconds on two-page resumes.
ResumeGo said these results show that recruiters do indeed spend more time reviewing lengthier resumes instead of simply skimming over the content, which might help explain why two-page resumes are usually preferred over one-page resumes.
Of course, in a profession steeped in Boolean searches, while also trending toward automation and AI, the question of one page versus two page seems irrelevant. Bots don’t discriminate on size. For those hoping to land a job, however, the information is helpful for that moment when a candidate is face-to-face with an employer and is questioning whether it’s OK to hand over a two-page resume or a one-pager.