Fonts in your resume
By Mark Swartz
Monster Senior Contributing Writer
The content of your resume—all those carefully chosen action verbs and achievement statements—is what convinces an employer to invite you in for a job interview. That’s why you spend so much time on writing and re-writing the words.
Your choice of fonts is also important. Select the proper type and your resume will be easily read by anyone who needs to view it (or by any scanning system the employer might use to capture your information electronically). But if you try to get overly fancy in order to attract attention, you may instead make your resume practically unreadable.
A font is a specific type of lettering and numbering design that you use in composing a written document. The words you are reading in this article are set in a particular font style used extensively by Monster.ca.
Fonts come in distinct families. They differ in terms of their look and other qualities, such as size, weight and spacing.
When you submit your resume in response to a job posting, your document will either be read directly by people, or will get scanned first into an electronic applicant tracking system. In either case it’s vital that the fonts you use make your words easy to interpret.
Simple, clean fonts like Arial or Verdana guarantee the readability of your text. More ornate fonts, such as those named Informal, Roman, or Chiller, may give your document more personality. They will certainly stand out from ordinary typefaces. However they may also make the reader strain their eyes, or the letters may not be correctly interpreted by scanners. This can drop your resume to the bottom of the pile.
Clean And Sleek Versus Fancy And Memorable
There are two main categories of typefaces. One is called Serif, the other is Sans Serif.
Serif fonts tend to be more stylized. They all have little markings, curves or hooks as part of their design. Here are some examples of Serif font families:
- Times New Roman
- Bookman Old Style
Because Serif fonts are not as sleek as Sans Serif typefaces, you should consider avoiding their use in job applications. They can cause scanning software to make errors and reject your resume.
As for Sans Serifs (which literally means “without serifs”), Arial is the most common family of fonts. It appears often in resumes. Arial is sleek and clean. It does not cause eye strain or scanning hiccups. The following type examples are from the Sans Serif category:
- Segoe UI Semibold
Don’t make the mistake of picking a crisp, clean font that you then shrink down in size, just so you can jam as many words as possible into your resume. That’s a bit like cheating. Better you should edit your content thoroughly to eliminate excess wording.
The more you reduce the size of your font, the less legible it becomes. Thus scanning systems are more likely to misread small print. And the people who must review your application manually may not want to squint. They could skip your submission for others that aren’t so visually challenging.
For a font family such as Arial, using a font size of 10.5 to 12 points gives the best results. When in doubt, go with 11 points. It gives you excellent readability and allows you to fit a good amount of content into your application.
One you decide on which font to go with, you’ll need to consider which style elements to add. This could include the use of bolding, italics, colour, etc.
For the sake of simplicity, opt for standard characters. Minimize the use of bolding except for section headers. Resist the urge to italicize words or phrases for effect: scanning systems might have problems reading such characters.
You can use all capital letters in headers, but don’t write entire sentences in capitals or IT WILL LOOK LIKE YOU ARE SHOUTING AT THE READER.
The default colour for your fonts ought to be black. Unless you’re a graphics professional or in the visual arts fields, you are more likely to make a mess by using colour than to produce an attractive end product.
There’s no need to be fancy when it comes to resume fonts. Stick with one choice (such as Arial) and a couple of styles for variety (e.g. bold, all capitals). This way you won’t overwhelm your reader with a document that looks like it was stitched together by Dr. Frankenstein.
Ultimately you want your resume to be read easily by people and electronic scanners alike. So give them something they can digest effortlessly. Count on your fonts to make your words visually crisp. Count on your words for content that puts you atop the list of interview prospects.
Still have questions about how to write the most effective cover letter? View the Q&As below to learn more.
How many pages should my cover letter be?
As a general rule, try to keep your cover letter at one page in length consisting of 3–4 paragraphs.
Should I include personal information on my cover letter?
Personal information such as marital status, height, weight, hobbies, or photos should not be included in your cover letter.
What size font and type should I use?
General type should stay between 10–12pt. The best fonts are easy to read and have clean lines such as sans serif fonts including but not limited to Arial, Century Gothic, Futura, Lucida Sans, News Gothic, Technical and Zapf Humanist.
Other fonts can also be used, such as Times New Roman, Rockwell, Book Antiqua and Garamond.
Do I need to include my e-mail address in my cover letter?
Yes, it is standard to provide the employer with both a phone number and e-mail address to contact you.
Is it necessary to include a cover letter with my resume?
Yes, unless the employer has specified otherwise, a cover letter should always accompany your resume.