It’s not just what you write that matters it’s also how you write it.
Take your resume to the next level with a perfect font that will increase its readability and make it stand out. The right one can evoke a sense of style, professionalism and most importantly competency.
Although it might seem like a minor detail, using the right font can be the difference between success and failure. For instance, would you sign a legal agreement that was written in crayon or a handwritten scribble? No, you wouldn’t. Conversely, when sending in a job application it must be done in a way that reads well on paper, print and screen. This can be the difference between appearing formal or informal.
Many job seekers struggle over deciding which font to use in their resume. With so many options to choose from they can feel overwhelmed. Selecting the best font can be tricky and time-consuming. Help is at hand with this article, which will guide you to pick a font that won’t distract from the content. It will do this by introducing you to the world of fonts and examining the pros and cons of the best ones.
You don’t need to be a typographer to overcome the scrutinizing eye of a recruiter. All you have to do is follow the advice on this page and you’ll be on your way to crafting a resume with the best typeface.
Does it matter what font you use in a resume?
The simple answer is, yes.
In a resume if content is king, then its font could be the queen.
It can be the ‘voice’ of your job application by helping to set the mood for your resume and showing your personality in it.
A font is more than just a simple character or letter. Instead, legible, attractive, and aesthetically pleasing text can change the readers temperament and state of mind. It can make your words clear to the employer, thereby helping to highlight your most relevant experience and key skills.
Difficult to read ones can make the recruiters job harder and inadvertently push them towards becoming biased against your application.
Apart from making a page easier to read by a human, fonts must also be readable when being screened by an Applicant Tracking System. An ATS can see some of them as unreadable and reject you as a candidate. More about this later.
The 6 best fonts for your resume
We’ve established that the two pillars of a good font are readability, and compatibility with ATS software.
Now, let’s make a list of the best expert-recommended fonts which draw attention to essential information rather than distract from it. Simplicity is constant theme that runs through all the chosen ones. In essence they’re not overly flashy or designed, despite having a lot of attention being paid to their look and style.
Classic conservative fonts like the ones below are still the best options to use.
A sans-serif font who’s clear and simple lines are commonly used in official letters. It is one of the safest bets when choosing a font as it conveys a sense of professionalism and trustworthiness. This is reinforced by its rounder letters which make it look more friendly and less stuffy. An attractive typeface for job hunters seeking to make a strong impression when distributing their resume in either digital or hard copy form.
A contemporary soft, gentle, and modern design that has been a long-time popular choice for resumes. It has been designed especially to perform well on computer monitors, making it the automatic default font of many email programs. Has a warm approachable feel due to its rounded edges. Was designed by Luc(as) de Groot and comes under the sans serif family branch.
Has a classic yet modern appearance which makes it popular with marketers and is hence widely used in the advertising industry. Possesses a friendly appearance despite its sturdy letter construction. Is also popular because it retains clear legibility even at small sizes. Was originally commissioned by Microsoft and has been widely distributed with their Windows and Office software packages.
A popular minimalist font that comes in a wide range of weights and styles. Has a very clean and crisp appearance that is widely recognized and slightly similar to Times New Roman. Looks formal and is therefore usually associated with a business environment.
A sans-serif typeface that is included with Mac operating systems. Ideal for high resolutions and larger sizes on screen, as well as text-heavy pages and documents. It has a distinctive serif font with an upscale look that is serious but friendly. As it was designed to be legible on screen it has been widely used in logos and signs all over the world. Famous for having an entire documentary dedicated to it.
6. Times New Roman
This is probably the most chosen fonts for resumes. A heavy serif font that has a clean and classic no-nonsense look about it.
It communicates formality and is easy-to-read, both traits which make it ideal for targeting corporate, banking, and legal positions. On a side note, it is a standard font used in most word processors.
On the downside, because it is considered bland and boring, its look may not appeal to all industries. Additionally, as it doesn’t display particularly well on screens, it may be hard to read at small sizes.
Best font size for a resume
After selecting the font, you now need to think about its size.
This is something else to carefully consider, as you need to get the balance right so that it matches the font you have chosen.
The ideal optimal size for a standard conservative font is anywhere between 10 and 12 points. You don’t want anything too big, but then again you don’t want anything too small. Too large and the content may seem overwhelming, too minute and it can be difficult to read.
Ultimately, what size you use depends on how much content you are trying to put into your resume and the amount of space you have on the page. You should also bear in mind that every font varies in size, meaning one might look good at one specific size and bad at another.
If unsure of what to do, then consider experimenting. Size a font up or down to see how it looks. Also ask for feedback from trusted friends or colleagues.
Headings and Subheadings font size
These need to stand out and so must be bigger than the body text. Therefore, increase them to between 14 to 16 points as well as bolding and capitalising them.
Font colour psychology
You should always stick to black text on a white background for the main body of your resume. It not only goes well with any industry or role but is also easily readable by humans and ATS systems.
However, if you’re feeling adventurous, there is nothing stopping you from adding a dash of colour elsewhere to make your candidacy more visible. All within reason of course.
Colours are often used for section headings or to highlight a keyword. Placed strategically, they have certain benefits, such as aesthetically complimenting what you have written and attracting the recruiter’s eye to a specific word or phrase.
Additionally, some people use them to divide a resume up by having colourful side and top bars. Immediately give a document a different feel and look.
What to watch out for
Remember that for some people certain colours can have a specific meaning or trigger a particular emotional feeling. To them it can say something unintended about your personality, so be careful what you choose. Also, note that some may only be suitable for specific industries and that bright ones can be distracting.
White on black background
This is the reverse of a standard resume layout and is acceptable in small doses for headers, sidebars, quotes or ‘pop ups’ etc.
Lighter or darker shades
In this scenario you go for the middle ground and just use a lighter shade of the primary colour you are using. For instance, grey compliments black and is also a great choice as it exudes calm and elegance.
Only use black text on a white background, as any other colour may be considered distracting and unprofessional.
If you are applying for a job in the creative industry, then using various colours is acceptable. They can tactfully can draw attention to your artistic skills.
How to choose a font for your resume
In essence, the choice is relatively straightforward. Choose a conservative one that can be easily read by the human eye and an ATS.
There are many that fit the bill. This brings its own problem as jobseekers are spoiled with the number of styles and font families to choose from.
Tips on which font to use
Picking one depends on the reader, industry sector, company culture, and target vacancy. You want to send the right message about your resume by dressing it up in the ‘font clothes’ that make the resume body attractive.
It’s vital you strike the right balance between professionalism, modernity and ATS friendliness.
On a practical level, readability is also of paramount importance, meaning the reader should be able to read it without straining their eyes.
Finally, whichever one you end up choosing, make sure its consistently used throughout the resume to ensure it looks uniform.
Use the same font as the employer
To stay in sync with the recruiter, you may want to check their website and job advert to see what fonts they’re using. This can tell you if they have a particular fancy for a specific style. You may then want to use the same font.
Fonts for mobile devices
Some Hiring Managers view resumes on the go. You should therefor consider how a font will look on a mobile phone. Bear in mind that some fonts which clearly display large text on a laptop screen may not scale down properly when viewed on a mobile. This can have a negative effect on the User experience and your resumes appearance. If they can’t read your text, its goodbye. Always take into account that different browsers and devices use a variety of rendering engines to handle typography.
ATS friendly fonts
Applicant Tracking Systems are automated pieces of software that are commonly used to filter, organize, and file resumes. They cannot always read and interpret certain intricate fonts and instead just see them as illegible characters or blank boxes.
Using the wrong ones here can trip you up to. So, the advice is to stick to the main list given above on this page.
This refers to the overall thickness of a typeface’s stroke in any given font. As it determines how bold or light your text will appear.
Refers to the space between two individual letters or characters. If you look at a word you may see some of the letters are closer together or further apart. This in turn can affect their appearance.
Is used to adjust spacing across a line and alter the gaps between letters in equal increments. It can make your writing look either more clustered or spread out.
What to avoid
Be extra cautious, and don’t risk throwing away all of your hard work by having fancy, cursive and playful fonts in your resume. Using non-standard fonts or scripts will show you as being a sloppy operator with bad judgement and poor attention to detail.
Stay away from heavily stylized narrow, condensed, or light fonts which are difficult to read on a screen. They may look nice to you, but they’re likely to have a Hiring Manager squinting and potentially give them a headache.
Mixing your fonts on a resume
Never use more than one font design in your resume. Mixing your fonts in never a good idea. The only way it may work is if you use a primary one for the body of your resume and another secondary one for your name and headings.
You don’t want your resume to end up looking like a ransom note.
A resume is no place to show off your creativity. So, avoid stylising your resume or keep any alterations to a minimum. The objective is to make your resume easier to read and get the employer to spend more time on it.
However, if you’re determined to jazz it up, then aim to add colour without compromising readability.
Bold, italics and underlining fonts
This is a great way to make keywords or phrases stand out. However, sidestep over doing it as that can damage the visual appeal of your resume.
Using downloadable fonts
There are quite a few good looking customizable online designs out there. But it’s advisable not to use these as there’s a good chance, they won’t be fully readable by common programs like MS Word. Stick to the tried and tested ones.
Difference between Serif fonts and Sans Serif fonts
Fonts fall into the two main categories of serif and sans serif.
The main difference between them is the small features on the end of strokes. Both types are acceptable to use in a resume. In their own small way, each one of them can evoke different moods and emotions in the reader.
Sans Serif fonts
The phrase ‘Sans Serif’ basically means fonts without tails. Sans, is Latin for ‘without’.
What this basically means is that a font lacks the small lines that protrudes out slightly at the edge of each letter. They are considered to be modern, sleek, and simple designs that are preferred for online content and resumes. Widely used where clarity and readability are paramount, for instance in headings and small text.
These are fonts that have tails. They tend to have a more classic, distinguished look that convey a strong sense of tradition and credibility. Often used by print publications like books and newspaper.
Times New Roman