On Fridays, I'm posting a job search question from one of our readers. This was a question posted in response to my posting on Linkedin Answers “Candidates - What's your most difficult job search question?”
F.P. shared a question he had about his own job search, and asked:
“What font type and size should I use for my resume?”
Interestingly enough, people worry about fonts more than most issues on a resume, yet more get it wrong than just about anything else I see.
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In a perfect world, fonts shouldn’t matter on your resume – content should be the only thing that matters.Since we aren’t in a perfect world, fonts do matter, but not in the way most people think.
You should see some of the resumes I get as a coach, and what I used to see as a recruiter. Many contain typos, others have clear formatting errors, more still are unclear, or don’t sell the candidate, but one of the most common resume issues I see is the poor use of fonts.
Unfortunately, these are some of the more common ways I see fonts being used on resumes sent to me:
- Candidate name in a huge font – if there was a font with colored flashing lights, candidates would use it
- 5 -10 different fonts on a page
- Fancy fonts
- 12 point fonts - or greater
- Fonts that make vertical formatting difficult
All of the above are poor choices when it comes to writing a resume.
Fonts should do a few basic things:
- Make effective use of resume real estate – Fonts should be small enough to allow the candidate to get as much information as possible into the top half of your first page – your most valuable resume real estate (see: http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/10-ways-to-manage-your-resume-real.html).
I recommend using a 9 font for the text of your bullet points, 11 font for the header and for section titles. A 9 font is large enough for most human eyes to see, because readers adjust their own default screen magnification to their own comfort. People who are blind have set defaults on their screen so Mr. Magoo could read it.
The header should be two or three lines max. The only purpose for using a huge font for your name is narcissism. It’s a huge waste of your most valuable space.
- Look professional – For most candidates, getting fancy with fonts gets you nowhere (exception: If you are a graphic designer, fancy can pay off in some very specific circumstances). Using more than one font can get confusing for the reader.
I recommend using either Arial or Times New Roman. If you’re a banker, lawyer, accountant, government worker, or C-level of a Fortune company, use Times New Roman – it’s simple, yet formal. For any other type of position that doesn’t need to be so formal, use Arial. Arial is clean, light, simple, easy to read, and a little less formal.
- Direct the reader’s eye – creative use of bold, underline, and italics draws your reader’s eye to the most important points of your resume. I often see these effects misused, which can confuse the reader, and cause the reader to miss what you really want them to see. I typically see bold wasted on company names or titles. Are those really what you think are your best selling points to your reader? I’ll also see so much bold used - on every second or third line - that it completely loses its impact.
Look at your own resume, and see how many of these issues are present on yours:
- Name larger than 11 font bold?
- Bullet point text larger than 10 font?
- Company names or position titles larger than 10 font?
- Multiple fonts throughout resume?
- Over use of bold? Underlines? Italics?
- Use of bold for company name or position?
- Non-basic fonts?
How can you use fonts to create a clean, clear, professional way to guide your reader’s eyes to the most important things you want to convey?
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