Fonts Your Resume Is Fond Of
You have big plans, and even bigger dreams. The last thing you want to do is get hung up on the details.
And when it comes to your resume — your paper key to unlocking employment goals — the same holds true. You need to focus on the important aspects, like your job descriptions, what experience to highlight, and, of course, getting it into the hands of the right people. What you don’t need to do is sit around agonizing over fonts.
Fortunately, this article has everything you need to choose a font for your resume, so that you can get back to the things that matter most! And while having the right font (or the wrong one) can be a big deal, we’ll show you how choosing yours doesn’t have to be.
Why Fonts Matter
The short answer:
The detailed answer:
Your resume needs to be easy to read so as to be read correctly, quickly, and without distraction.
Nowadays, your resume needs to appeal to 2 different types of readers. The first is the human reader. That’s the recruiter who will peruse your resume manually.
Your resume needs to be aesthetically pleasing to the human eye. That’s not to say you should hand paint a decorated initial like some medieval manuscript, though. Aesthetically pleasing in this context means minimal, with a structured sense of purpose.
You want a human reader to read seamlessly, without getting hung up on ugly details like bad font choices.
Your other type of reader is a machine. Resume reading software, often called an ATS (Applicant Tracking System), is becoming increasingly common to eliminate the first round of applicants. Your human recruiter would rather go through 100 resumes than 1,000, and ATS software helps eliminate the bulk of bad matches.
Part of the way it does this is through OCR (Optical Character Recognition), a software designed to recognize and transcribe text in images. If a recruiter scans your resume into their ATS, the OCR will try to turn what it sees into a text document. And it interprets some fonts better than others.
The Best Fonts
Think you’d have to read through the whole article to find out the best fonts? Think again!
The best fonts are:
- Times New Roman
But why are they the best?
Because they appeal to both types of readers — human and machine!
They are also established standards in typography. Meaning, ATSs are designed with them in mind. They also don’t deviate from the norm in a way that might give your recruiter pause.
Finding YOUR Font
Don’t just grab one off this list. Take a second to consider it.
Like dressing for the job you want, your font can give other people a certain impression of you.
For example, Times New Roman is a famous favourite. You probably had to type something in this font at some point in your life. But because it’s been an established font choice for so long, some designers consider it “outdated”. That said, it could be the choice for you if you’re looking to get into a more traditional industry, like law or medicine.
A more modern look that still passes muster is Arial. Because it is a san-serif font, it has a more contemporary feel. But because it also has consistent legibility for readers (real or robot), it makes for a smart choice.
Pro tip: not sure if a font is serif? Check the capital “T”. If there are short lines hanging down off the sides of the horizontal line — that’s serif. A straight line shows a san serif typeface.
Say No To These
Everything here is meant to be a guide to help you choose your best font so you can focus on other things in your resume. We’re not going to tell you what to pick in the end. That’s up to you.
But we are going to tell you what NOT to pick…
- Heavily stylized fonts – pretty doesn’t mean well-designed. Overly-embellished or cursive fonts are a no-go.
- Narrow, condensed, or light fonts – Stick to the originals, don’t go with their modified counterparts. Especially when it comes to condensing text; that just makes it harder to separate letters when reading.
- Downloaded or custom fonts – If you have to download it — or if you have to design it yourself — there’s a reason for it. That font just isn’t popular enough.
- Gimmicky fonts – Comic Sans is a joke. There, we said it.
Two’s The Limit
Two fonts in your resume is the maximum.
The maximum number of fonts in your resume is two.
Any more and it becomes too busy.
You can still keep it interesting, though. Use bold and italics to separate sections. Use different font sizes or a different font for headers. You can even use colour, but just like fonts, it must be used in moderation. A different colour for headers is a nice idea. Turning your resume into a rainbow? Not so much.
Pro Tip: if you are going to underline anything, only underline obvious headers. Nowadays readers have a tendency to see underlining in a body of text as indicating a hyperlink, which can cause unwanted confusion.
Font size is an important way to distinguish header and body text in your resume.
Font size is also a key way to getting your resume to fit neatly on one page.
You will likely need to experiment a bit to find what makes your resume look good as well as fill the page. But here are the margins you can use as a guideline:
- Your Name: 20-24 point
- Headings and Subheadings: 11-14 point
- Body Text and Your Contact Info: 10-12 point
They say the medium is the message, but when it comes to font choice, the goal is simply to not have the medium obfuscate the message.
And if you follow our guidelines to find the font that’s just right for you, you can pick the right medium and start focusing on your message instead!