How Much Does My Resume Font Matter?
By: Stacey Lastoe
Your resume tells a story. It reveals who you are professionally (and sometimes a little personally, too), and it offers a roadmap of your career journey thus far. In many instances, it’s the first thing a hiring manager will see, and if you don’t catch their attention, then it’s the only thing they’ll see. So you, of course, want it to be typo-free, comprehensive, and quantifiable.
Oh, and you want it to look good, too.
But then that poses another crucial question: What is the best resume font?
Since I’m personally only familiar with a couple by name and have a general idea of what looks OK and what doesn’t, I figured that the best approach to getting to the bottom of this was to reach out the expert advice of two of The Muse’s own resume coaches, Steven Davis and Neely Raffellini.
You want to start by thinking about who’s going to read this document. It’s most often a recruiter, of course, and this person probably “scans and reads thousands of resumes every month,” Davis notes. “After a while, bullets and small fonts tend to be an eye strain,” he says, “a reason for a recruiter to leave the resume.”
As someone who was trained to qualify resumes, Davis was instructed to “look for reasons to eliminate resumes first,” so that they could then focus their attention on those that are a match. Thus, “if a resume has white space, and a font that doesn’t cause the eyes to strain, it makes it more comfortable and appealing psychologically.”
Raffellini backs this up, adding to it the importance of considering ATS: “The most important thing about fonts is that they must be easy-to-read and easily scanned (by eyes and applicant tracking systems!) You don’t want the hiring manager struggling to read the accomplishments that you worked so hard to achieve.”
And speaking of the mighty ATS, you might want to think twice about the way you send your resume in. This article breaks down the schools of thought behind submitting a PDF versus a Word doc.
Raffellini’s favorites are Arial, Arial Narrow, Cambria, Garamond, and Helvetica, which she calls “standard fonts, appropriate for any resume.” Of Arial Narrow, Raffelini says it’s her “secret font if you want to sneak more onto a page.”
Davis is partial to Calibri: “20 for the person’s name, 14 bold for headings, and 11 for other data.”
The font shouldn’t change too much even if you’re in a creative field. Says Raffellini: “My suggestion is to continue to stick to standard fonts. You can add creativity to your resume in other ways (with color, etc.), but you still want the hiring manager to be able to read your resume quickly and easily.” Davis concurs, “If the candidate is in a creative position, I add color to headings, sparingly to catch the eye of the reader.”
Since a recruiter’s going to spend approximately six seconds looking at your resume, it’s not smart to choose anything difficult to read quickly. As Davis says, “A decision is being formed to either stay, or click and look at another resume.” Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for the hiring manager to choose to stay with yours.
And our goal is to make your life easier—so take the worrying out of this process and download our free resume template.