Should You Have a Two-Column Resume? (With Pros and Cons)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 20, 2021

When creating your resume, there are countless formats to consider using. While you may be familiar with the one-column format where everything reads like a list, there are more unique ways to present your qualifications. People who are design savvy may feel more inclined to use a two-column format for their resume. In this article, we explain what a two-column resume is and then share the pros and cons of using this format vs. a one-column resume.

Related: 6 Universal Rules for Resume Writing (With Video)

What is a two-column resume?

A two-column resume is a resume format where you present all of your information in two columns. This is a helpful format for people who want to fit all their information on one page. The way you set up your two-column resume can vary based on the resume template you choose. Those using this format typically put their summary, skills and awards in the left column and their professional experience and education on the right side. The way you format a two-column resume is completely up to your personal preference.

Related: When To Use Each Type of Resume

What is better: one-column vs. two-column?

When determining which style of resume is better, it is ultimately based on your needs as a candidate. Both formats offer you several advantages and disadvantages, making it important to know which resume better serves your specific purpose. Here we look at the pros and cons of one-column and two-column resumes:

Pros of a one-column resume

Here are the benefits of a one-column resume:

  • More reliable formatting: Since one-column resumes are simpler than two-column resumes, their formatting tends to be more compatible with different files types and applicant tracking systems. This is helpful when sending your resume through an online platform rather than a direct email.

  • Traditional style: While hiring managers have their own subjective resume preferences, they may be more used to seeing one-column resumes. This may work in your favor for more traditional hiring managers or recruiters.

Related: How To Write a Resume Employers Will Notice

Cons of a one-column resume

Here are the drawbacks of a one-column resume:

  • Less flexibility: One-column resumes tend to waste more space than two-column resumes. There is less freedom for you to format your resume exactly how you want with this kind of template.

  • Longer reading time: When reading your one-column resume, it's more challenging for hiring managers to quickly find the sections that want to focus on. When hiring managers are busy, this less scannable format may cause them to miss important information.

  • Extra wordy: A one-column resume often has more words than a two-column resume. With such dense information, this can make it challenging for a hiring manager to know what's the most important.

Related: How To Write an ATS-Friendly Resume

Pros of a two-column resume

Here are the benefits of a two-column resume:

  • More scannable: Rather than listing all your information in one column, a two-column resume lets you organize it to be easier to read. As hiring managers are looking through stacks of resume, they may appreciate reading a format that makes it easy to find key information.

  • Improved flexibility: Fitting all your information on a standard one-column resume can be challenging. A two-column resume allows you to tweak your formatting to fit in all the relevant information you want to include.

  • Clean looking: A two-column resume gives you the chance to use more modern and organized formatting. This may help you create a more attractive application.

  • Show design skills: If you want to apply for a role that requires you to have strong design or technology skills, this format can prove that you have some of these skills. The two-column format gives design-savvy candidates more opportunity to try different layouts.

Related: How To Use a General Resume Format

Cons of a two-column resume

Here are the drawbacks of a two-column resume:

  • Not suitable for ATS systems: Applicant tracking systems take the information you provide in your resume and scan it through a software system that looks for relevant keywords and other information. These systems may reject resumes with fancy formatting, logos, images or graphics, making it safer to use a one-column resume.

  • More formatting issues: Since a two-column format has more going on, there is a higher chance of it becoming distorted when saving it as different file types. That's why it's important to follow the job posting directions on which format to save as. Likewise, always double check that it saved as you intended it to look.

  • Less common: Since one-column resumes are the more traditional resume format, hiring managers may be more used to seeing these. While a two-column resume may help your resume stand out, some hiring managers may prefer using basic formatting.

Tips for choosing a resume format

When deciding if you want to use a two-column resume, consider these tips:

Consider the submission process

If you are submitting your resume using an employer's online platform, it may be safer to use a simple one-column resume. This way, your resume won't become distorted and can pass through the applicant tracking system. If the employer wants you to send your resume via email, then you can use either format as long as you make sure it saved correctly.

Use a more interesting format on your website

If you have an online portfolio or website, this is the perfect space to use your two-column resume. You want to use your website to capture a hiring manager's attention, making it a useful opportunity to try a more unique format. This is especially true when working as a graphic designer, creative director, art director or some kind of other creative professional.

Your content is key

While your format is important, hiring managers mostly care about your qualifications. Before even choosing how to lay out your information, determine which skills and professional experiences are essential to your background. Once narrowing this down, you can then decide which is the most organized and attractive way to present your information.

Explore more articles