Has your resume been left behind on the island of Times New Roman? It’s important to know that it tends to convey a feeling that you are not current with the “times” – pun intended.
Aesthetically, it’s a serviceable font and has been sort of the go-to typeface for a long time. But I’m all about making the job seekers appear modern. Writing a resume with Times New Roman is no longer the standard.
But more than that, there are several best practices when it comes to the typefaces on resumes you should know. Here are some quick tips on making you and your resume appear like the “type” of job seeker employers want.
Rule number one with fonts is to be consistent. Don’t use lots of different fonts. Stick with one throughout your entire job seeker materials (ie resume, cover letter, testimonial sheet, and everything else).
Consistency is a key ingredient to looking sharp, professional, and organized. These are traits you want potential employers to understand and believe about you.
Fonts come in all shapes and sizes. Two fonts of the same size can look remarkably different. The best way to gauge if it’s too big or not is to print it out and have a look – don’t trust your computer monitor as it’s deceptive about a lot of things (colors, sizing, context, etc.).
Depending on the font you use, a good size is between 10 and 12. I tend to write resumes in 11 pt, but often will use a 10 pt to help conserve space.
Some will use the font size to compensate for lack of information on their resume. I think that’s a mistake and gives your resume a bit of an amateur feel. I think it’s better to use a normal size and simply increase the spacing between lines or write more content.
There are different styles of fonts out there. The two most common are serif and san serif fonts. Serif fonts have little flags at the tips or ends of lines called “serifs,” whereas san serif fonts don’t have them. Times New Roman has serifs, while Arial does not, by way of comparison.
I like minimalism in resumes – keeping them simple, succinct and clean. To me, serifs add clutter to a document (even if only subtly). I think they have their place in other documents and certainly with books, magazines and newspapers, but not resumes.
I would also advise against choosing script– or gothic/blackletter-style fonts. I think the latter is self-explanatory, but scripts are the ones that look like your handwriting (Kirsten, Comic, and Balloon are common examples). Those have no place (ever) on a resume – don’t even consider them. They lack professionalism and that hurts your credibility.
Bold & Italic
In certain places, you will want to place emphasis on specific words – usually headings and sub-headings. Bold and italic for that, so long as you keep them consistent and use them sparingly.
If you bold or italic too much, these type treatments lose their impact on the reader. So save them for places where you want to make an impression. They also help guide a reader through your document. Our eyes are naturally trained to look for little road signs to help us navigate a document efficiently. Too many signs lead to overload and we get lost.
The only place I would suggest you use all caps is with your name. All caps outside of major headers make you look computer illiterate or obnoxious – not the image you want.
THINK OF HOW ANNOYING IT IS WHEN SOMEONE SENDS YOU A MESSAGE THAT IS IN ALL CAPS. IT’S DISTRACTING AND THEY LOSE SOME OF THEIR ABILITY TO TRULY COMMUNICATE WITH YOU.
All computers come with their own sets of typefaces, so play around with a few. Type a line of text and then copy and paste it several times on a page. With each line use a different font, then print and decide.
One of my favorites right now is the current default for Microsoft Word, called Calibri. It will no doubt go the way of Times New Roman at some point, but right now it looks great on a resume and is easy to read.
Your chosen typeface may seem small and immaterial. But these small touches have an accumulative impact on your ability to differentiate yourself.
Doug Perry is an expert resume writer and job search coach. He and his wife, Tracie, who is a dental hygienist, created GetHiredRDH in response to the challenging dental hygiene job market and have helped thousands of dental hygienists through tips and individual services. If you need individual, click here to contact Doug.