Should You Ever Use a Two-Column Resume?

Brandi Glass
5 min read
Should You Ever Use a Two-Column Resume?

Resumes outline your employment history, skills and qualifications to potential employers. Although everyone knows how vital a well-formatted resume is to find the right job, many still add unnecessary information and tweaks that work against them in the long run. One example of this is formatting resumes with multiple columns.

This article will discuss the pros and cons of single and two-column resumes, when you should use them, and how effective they are when you’re looking to apply for jobs.

What is a Two-Column Resume?

Resumes come in many formats. However, not all of these are suitable for everyday use, especially if you plan to send the document through an online portal. As their name suggests, two-column resumes display your information in two separate columns on one page. Usually, the left column contains information like your educational background, skills, and contact information. In contrast, the right column has your employment history.

Two-column resumes are neither “bad” nor “good.” They are helpful for some applicants, especially those who don’t have much experience or have too much to include in a single page. Formatting a resume in this manner helps keep the overall document from looking empty or incomplete. Or, they help organize information efficiently and concisely.

Some people with many years of experience may also use this format and include bullet points that give a sense of their duties without cluttering the entire page. This flexibility is one of the reasons why some people prefer to use a two-column format.

What is the Difference Between a One and Two-Column Resume?

The main difference between a one and two-column resume template is formatting. The amount of data you can put in each one differs. A standard one-column gives you more space to elaborate on prior job duties. It’s also the one that recruiters and hiring managers come across the most.

A single-column resume is the best way to ensure that you won’t stumble upon issues when it comes to software. Although ATS systems nowadays are becoming more advanced, it’s always essential to make sure that you know where your resume will go before you apply.

A two-column resume template doesn’t have much space to include too much information. You can use bullets to list the primary responsibilities in your previous role. Regardless of the format you choose, it’s necessary to know how to use your resume to your best advantage, including assessing who receives it and how they will read it.

What are the Pros of a Two-Column Resume?

Two-column resumes have multiple pros. One of the most significant is that it is easy to scan by hiring managers. Suppose the company you’re applying to doesn’t use an Applicant Tracking System. In that case, you can email it or submit it in person without any issues.

  • Other benefits of a two-column resume include:
  • Allowing you to showcase your design and formatting skills
  • Limiting unnecessary information from the resume
  • It has a modern and streamlined look
  • Provides more overall flexibility
  • Great for beginners and advanced careers
  • Allows you to organize your information concisely

Suppose you’re applying to a position that requires creativity and out-of-the-box approaches. In that case, a two-column resume is a good option. However, these pros won’t work if your company runs the CV through software to check for keywords before sending it to a recruiter or hiring manager.

Are There Cons to a Two-Column Resume Template?

Unfortunately, despite the uniqueness of two-column resumes instead of the traditional one-column, they come with multiple issues that may not help you in your job search. For example, columns are notoriously terrible when it comes to scanning.

The formatting may affect how an ATS reads your resume, omitting many words altogether. Even if you have all the qualifications for the job you’re applying for, you’re less likely to get an interview because your resume won’t reach the hands of a hiring manager.

Other cons to a two-column resume template include difficulties when you’re trying to format them. Sometimes, the information runs off onto another page, even if you add a period or comma. This disadvantage takes away from the resume’s overall purpose, and you’ll have to keep tweaking it to get it right.

Finally, some hiring managers don’t prefer reading two-column resumes because they don’t contain the information they need to determine if you’re a good candidate. This is because the hiring manager may assume that it’s a low-effort document that doesn’t give them a clear picture of your abilities. If most of the resume is full of white spaces and bullets, it may backfire.

When Should I Use a Two-Column Resume?

Although two-column resumes are not a popular choice for job seekers, they can still work for you in some cases. For example, suppose you’re seeking a non-traditional job. In that case, this format comes in handy because it shows that even your resume fits the company’s non-traditional criteria.

If you’re starting your path in the professional world, there isn’t a lot that you can put on a resume. In these cases, having a two-column resume works in your favor because it showcases the necessary information hiring managers need without going into unnecessary detail. Along with a brief cover letter, your chances of landing an interview increase when you use this format in this specific instance. If you’re looking for a role in a local business that doesn’t use software to screen applicants, two-column resumes work just fine. Since they’re easy to scan with the eye and read, the business owner can determine your qualifications relatively quickly, and you may get an interview on the spot.

What is the Best Resume Format to Use?

To increase the likelihood of recruiters receiving your resume, you’re better off with the traditional single-column format. Although it is not as creative-looking and streamlined as a two-column, it is the better choice when applying to medium or large companies that use Applicant Tracking Systems.

Besides how it looks, having a single-column resume allows you to list your responsibilities and qualifications in-depth. It’s the format that most people use – but it’s not due to a lack of creativity.

A resume is a document that helps you get your foot in the door, but it doesn’t do all the work when it comes to hiring. You’re showcasing your skills and qualifications, not your formatting abilities. Your achievements should always be the focus of the hiring process, and having an improperly formatted resume takes away from that.

Build Your Resume with Rocket Resume

A single-column resume continues to be the best choice when it comes to applying for jobs online. If you’re ready to start a new career and want to upgrade your CV for the best results, you can start today with Rocket Resume.

When you build a resume with us, you don’t have to worry about making it through an ATS. All resumes from Rocket Resume clear this software with ease, increasing the likelihood of a hiring manager seeing your application.

If this is the first time you are writing a resume, you’re in luck. Our intuitive tools help you format your CV in minutes, reducing the hassle of choosing the most appropriate format and font size for the best results.

Are you ready to start building a resume that gives you results? Start your CV now with Rocket Resume.