This is a well debated topic with technically no wrong answer as opinions vary so here is our take on the issue.
If you can explain what you do and have accomplished within one page that does say something about you. To many it says “communicates well, direct and to the point” while also indirectly taking into consideration the time a hiring manager spends reading resumes prior to a new hire. Short of senior level executives and those with long complicated academic accomplishments projects we try extremely hard to focus a resume down to one page. You are lucky if someone reads more than a 100 words total while reviewing your resume as very few read a resume word for word. Therefore, why not make it short with VERY high impact content?
Now some will say “you cannot sum up what I do on one page!” Well certainly that can be true. But using our recruiting experience we see it from a different perspective. If you are a Controller or even a Network Administrator, for the most part recruiters and hiring managers know what you do as it’s no mystery. You can bet that they will read the Professional Executive Summary. This is something we dedicate a lot of time to as it is what really sells you, convincing someone to read more. After that point it comes down to scanning a resume for a few key items: keywords, accomplishments, position title, to see if they think you’re a fit.
Now when do you use a two page resume? Naturally high level executive style CV’s will be more than one page as the people reviewing them will take more time to read them because there are fewer qualified people in the stack to bog them down. When you’re working with a retained executive recruiter like JMJ Phillip, a large company may only see five resumes as that entire search process is different than a company with an ad on Monster that may receive 200-300+ resumes for a position. Who has time to read that many 2-3 page resumes for a mid-level position?
Other instances where a two page resume is standard are for some tech resumes. We still prefer a one page resume to sell yourself and get the attention of a hiring manger but you can also add a second page listing the technologies you have worked with in the past. Although, some prefer to keep this as an entirely separate document.
Then you have cases where someone had 8 jobs over 12 years doing many different things as Staff Accounting from 1998 to 2002 then worked as a Buyer from 2002 to 2003 and as a Account Manager from 2004…well, you get the point. In that case you just have to do a really strong professional summary and accomplishment presentation up top and push that resume out to two pages to cover the mixture of experience. Now in some cases we can get very creative and make a semi chrono-functional resume and make all that work in one page. But, it is very difficult and not something we recommend someone to try when doing it on their own.
The reason we say there is no right answer is because you can ask friends what they do and one person will say they have used nothing but 2 page resumes over their career as a Purchasing Manager and they always get hired and another friend will say they use a one page resume for their entire career as a Java Programmer and had great success. Our own preference is to write high quality, high impact resumes that are as long as they need to be, since in this economy the better you look on paper, the better chance you have of getting the interview.