A Four-Page Resume
I would like to preface this post by saying I am not an HR professional or career counselor. I have never evaluated resumes from a hiring perspective. I am just somebody who has applied to a lot of jobs over the past two years and made about ten major resume revisions in that time based on feedback, experimentation, and strategic thought.
With that out of the way, I will now make my pitch; when writing a resume there is no need to restrict yourself to one or two pages as is commonly suggested. I used to follow the 'two-page rule' myself until I had a revelation. Unless stated otherwise, there is no penalty for having a long resume. The worst case scenario is they skim the first two pages and toss it aside without having seen the rest, and if you failed to capture their interest in those first two pages then you weren't going to get the job anyways.
The most important part of having a longer resume is that you keep key information right near the top. For me that means the first two pages are my professional profile, work experience, and education. After that I have two pages of courses, certifications, volunteer experience, etc. If there is something really important in these later sections then I mention it in my professional profile. The strategy with this is that after the first two pages they will have determined whether I meet the essential qualifications, and if I do, then they have an additional two pages to see why I'm a better candidate than everyone else who also met the essential qualifications. Because at this point being good enough is almost never good enough. You have to stand out.
When I liberated myself from the two-page restriction, I was shocked at how much it was holding me back. I had several amazing LinkedIn recommendations that I was able to add. I added a publication list of relevant articles from this blog along with brief excerpts. I was able to expand my work experience and education sections to provide much greater detail. That detail meant that suddenly I was able to customize these sections to a greater degree. When I compare this now four-page resume to its crippled counterpart, I can see nearly two years of professional development finally shining through, and for the first time in a long time I actually believe that I have a real chance when I'm applying to jobs.
I'm not saying that everyone should make their resume four pages. When I was fresh out of school I wouldn't say I needed that much space because the reality is I didn't have so many things to highlight back then. What I'm saying is that with how competitive things are and the rise of keyword analysis, easing up on self-imposed resume length restrictions might do you a lot of good.