“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
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.
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.
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.