Are you stranded on the island of Times New Roman? I’m not, and here’s why – everyone visits that place and, to me, it’s just too crowded.
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 dental hygienists I work with stand out and differentiate themselves in every way possible. Writing a resume with Times New Roman is anything but different.
But more than that, there are several best practices when it comes to the fonts on resumes you should be aware of and remember. So here are some quick tips on making your resume work better at grabbing attention and making you look professional.
Rule number one with fonts is to be consistent. Don’t use lots of different fonts, in fact I would highly recommend you only stick with one throughout your entire resume packet (ie resume, cover letter, testimonial sheet, CAR Sheet, business card).
Consistency is a hallmark of looking professional and organized – both traits you want to show a potential employer.
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 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 about 11 point with the fonts I use, but often will use even a 10 pt to help with space.
Some will use the font size to compensate for lack of information on their resume, but I think that’s a mistake. I think it’s better to use a normal size and simply increase the spacing between lines – looks more professional and is more readable.
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 clutter up the page (even if only subtly). I think they have their place in other types of documents and certainly with books, magazines and newspapers, but not resumes.
I would also advise against choosing script- or gothic-style fonts. I think gothic 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 are great ways to do 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 leads to overload and we get lost.
The only place I would suggest you use all caps is with your name. All caps in a section of text can really make you look either computer illiterate or obnoxious – not the image you want.
THINK OF HOW ANNOYING IT IS WHEN SOMEONE SENDS YOU A MESSAG 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 up a line of text and then copy and paste it several times on a page with each line using a different font, then print that off 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 to your resume, but it’s these small touches that accumulatively have a big impact on your ability to differentiate yourself and land a great dental hygiene job.