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Should you Use a Single-Column or Two-Column Resume? 

Resumes play an essential role in the hiring process. As a job seeker, landing an interview greatly relies on your resume. Therefore, you want to make sure that you select the right format.  

Some organizations emphasize a specific resume format. However, other organizations or employers accept any resume format, whether one-column or two-columns. Therefore, an interviewee must design a resume format that suit the desires of the interviewer. Today, the two-column resume layout is slowly replacing the traditional one-column resume layout, but the question remains… how do you know which one to use?  

Single-Column Resume Layout 

The most common and traditional resume layout is the single-column resume. A single-column resume allows individuals to write all resume information, beginning from contact information, academic qualifications, skills, employment history, and volunteer experience in one column. 

Single-column format is arguably the most detailed resume format when it comes to writing job experience and accomplishment descriptors, as it allows you to make use of the entire page width.  

In addition, single-column resumes are more likely to be recognized by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These programs standardize recruitment practices, making candidate screening more efficient, by scanning resumes for keywords and screening candidates in or out. 

Two-Column Resume Layout  

A two-column resume template is a brief resume layout that focuses on presenting all information on a single page. Typically, this layout is suitable for those individuals who are well-versed in technology and design. Such individuals may include graphic designers, video game programmers and content writers.  

It is no doubt that a two-column resume format is appealing to the eye. This visual appeal may give an applicant’s resume some sense of uniqueness, resulting in greater consideration by employers. After all, when we are looking for work, the main goal is to stand out from the competition.  

In addition, a two-column resume offers job seekers the room to showcase a great amount of information, on just one page. Finally, it allows flexibility in how you present each resume section, so job seekers can ensure that the information they want hiring managers to notice, gets noticed.  

The following outlines a few considerations to make when choosing a resume format:  

Consider Your Industry

Most hiring managers lean toward a traditional resume format, especially in corporate or academic environments. The single-column format is arguably the most detailed resume format as it gives the applicant room to share all the information necessary for a strong application. Usually, two-column resumes are used when a one-page resume is required, as it allows you to easily organize information in such a small space. It a great idea to do background research in order to see which format is most used in your industry.  

Consider Your Intentions

Ask yourself, “What are my intentions with a two-column resume?” Is it to showcase your exceptional design skills? To demonstrate your personal brand? Or is it to stand out from other applicants? If so, this might be the resume format for you. In the creative industries, this may give an applicant’s resume some sense of uniqueness, hence being considered for interviews.

Consider Your Mode of Delivery

As previously stated, two-column resumes are not compatible with most Applicant Tracking Systems. If you’re applying to a large company, or via a company website, reconsider a two-column resume. The systems that filter resumes into a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ pile, can’t understand the layout. However, if you have the green light to send your resume directly by email, or in person to the hiring manager, then a two-column resume might be your best bet.

Ultimately, the choice of the resume should depend on both the applicant’s and employer’s preferences. Whatever format you choose, I recommend keeping a plain-text version of your resume and making a conscious choice of when to use each.  

Written by Alexandra Stancato, Career Services Advisor, Toronto Film School