Is This the Age of the Two Page Resume?

“Your resume should be one page.” That was the one piece of consistent advice that I got from countless career advisors during four years of college and three years of law school. But with the pervasiveness of digital applications and e-mailed resumes, does the rule still apply?

Why It’s Time for a Two Page Resume

Law students and attorneys alike are looking for more experience to flesh out their resumes. Ideally, this experience will set people apart when applying for a job. But after building this experience base, people try to cram everything they’ve done on one page. To fit everything on a single page, people use small fonts, no spaces, and omit relevant information. If you’ve got relevant experience, why not put it on your resume? The purpose of a resume is to get you in the door for an interview. But if yours is cramped and tough to read, nobody will read it. That means nobody will invite you in for an interview.

Benefits of a Two Page Resume

Improve Readability

When you allow yourself to stretch onto a second page, you can be more liberal with the spacing. Lines between sections will set your various jobs apart from each other. A minimum twelve point font should be used throughout your resume. Anything smaller is difficult to read whether it’s on a screen or in print form. Ideally, your headings should be slightly larger than the body text to set it apart. But don’t go overboard. Breaking onto a second page doesn’t mean you can put your name in a thirty point font.

Showcase Yourself

Once all of your relevant experience goes onto a second page anyway, you can use some of the extra room to showcase yourself. When you’re trying to cram your entire resume onto one page, you probably won’t have room for a summary section or list of accomplishments. Your summary section can be one or two sentences that give the reader a snapshot of who you are. After you’ve explained your experience in a summary section, you can set yourself apart with a list of accomplishments. I’m using accomplishments as a general term. The section could include non—legal certifications, personal accomplishments (I have one of my marathons on my resume), or even interests. After spending a month reviewing resumes, I can say that these types of things really round out a resume and shed some light on who the person is, not just what they’ve done.

Cautionary Instructions

Only Include Relevant Information

Going onto a second page doesn’t give you liberty to throw whatever you want on your resume. You still have to keep all the information relevant to the job you’re applying for. Unless you did something extraordinary, you shouldn’t have anything listed from your college career. The longer you’ve been out of law school, the more you can cut from your school days. If you’re more than five years out of school, a CALI award in a subject area you don’t practice probably isn’t relevant anymore. Similarly, if you have no plans to step foot in a courtroom your moot court experience probably isn’t relevant.

Three Pages is a CV

A two page resume will help you showcase your relevant experience. But once you get onto a third page it starts to resemble a curriculum vitae. Unless you have numerous publications or you’ve been in the business a long time, you’re probably including irrelevant information.



  1. Avatar Susan Gainen says:

    Thanks, Josh.

    As a consultant and speaker, I am out of the daily business of reviewing dozens of resumes a day, but for the past three days, I have had the pleasure of meeting very interesting law students at two schools, reviewing their resumes, and learning about where they are in their career paths.

    From that immersion into my old world, I strongly urge the consideration of the following:

    It is not enough to know what distinguishes you from every other law student, you have to be able to explain it and to put it into context that is meaningful to the person who is interviewing you, your networking connections, and your personal career support team.

    Because I didn’t have cover letters, I had to rely on the students to explain and connect the elements on their resumes. This requires careful thought, consultation with people who are strangers-not-loved ones, and clear understanding of what is required by the employers whose jobs you are seeking. This is very different from “drafting a resume” which is an act of typing which can be done satisfactorily in half an hour.

  2. Avatar Josh C. says:

    Great insight Susan. That’s definitely a part of the job application process that deserves a good bit of attention.

  3. Avatar Alexander Wolfe says:

    I really think the one page limitation is silly. Two pages is not overly burdensome, even for someone who has to look at hundreds of resumes. And personally I’d rather see two easy to read pages than one page with everything crammed in small font and without enough spacing.

  4. Avatar Christine says:

    Relevant article for non-lawyers too. I kept my resume to one page and kept getting rejections. The first time I used a two-page resume, I landed the paralegal position of my dreams. I don’t suggest a two-page resume unless you have several positions with experience that is directly on point to the position you are applying for.

    Definitely keep the font at 12-point, nothing smaller.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that some hiring managers and attorneys have visual impairments. When drafting your resume, be sure it is accessible and can be read by screenreaders like JAWS.

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