It’s a question for the ages: what font should you use on your resume?
How many people have sat at the computer for hours agonizing over this question, scrolling through the list of available options and thinking…
“What if I choose the wrong font? Is the hiring manager going to look at my resume and say ‘WHAT!? I can’t believe this! Helvetica? Is she insane? This person is clearly not fit to work here, or anywhere for that matter! Get the paper shredder, and alert security in case she ever tries to get into the building.’”
It’s enough to stall your job search.
The good news is, they’re not going to call security (over your font). But that doesn’t mean font choice doesn’t matter. It does.
So, what font should you use?
There are a few schools of thought on the correct font to use on your resume.
According to HubSpot, which recently polled its own recruiters, Times New Roman is the preferred font for resumes, followed by Ariel and Calibri – in other words, the fonts your computer is probably already set to use.
Their list of top resume fonts is as follows:
Times New Roman
As you probably know, fonts are divided into styles which include “serif” and “sans serif.” And this list is a mix of both. Serif fonts include Times New Roman, Garamond, and Georgia. Sans Serif fonts include Arial, Calibri, and Helvetica.
The recruiters interviewed agreed that classic fonts are the best choices. One of them said “I’m a big fan of the ‘classics’ for resumes — Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, and Cambria. I’m a little old school, but I think they are the cleanest and exude professionalism.”
Another said, “I would stick with the classics like Times New Roman or Arial. My personal recommendation would be Garamond — I think it makes it look that much more professional.”
The discussion doesn’t end there, however.
Is Times New Roman too boring?
In contrast to the above list, graphic design tool website Canva published a list a few years ago listing Times New Roman was the “worst” resume font and Garamond as the best. Here’s why:
“Times New Roman is probably the most commonly chosen fonts for resumes—the very reason you should avoid it, and why it appears on our ‘Worst’ list. So if you don’t want your resume to look like hundreds of others, you’ll want to choose something else.”
I think this reasoning is pretty faulty. You aren’t going to stand out to most employers because you chose Garamond over Times New Roman. Most people probably couldn’t pick one from the other in a lineup. Nor is your resume going to land in the slush pile if you do go with Times over Garamond. It’s going to land in the slush pile if you choose Bauhaus 93, but not Times New Roman.
To serif or not to serif?
When it comes to serif or sans serif, each has its uses, and there are those who say individual psychologies. Serif fonts are said to be associated with being reliable, impressive, respectable, authoritative, and traditional. While sans serif fonts are seen as universal, clean, modern, objective, and stable. So, you might as well keep that in mind.
And it could depend on the industry.
This article on Jobscan suggests that if you’re applying for a job in a highly compliant, regulated, or formal field (like law or finance), you should use a serif font. And if you’re looking for work in a newer and more creative or innovative field (like marketing or software), sans serif is the way to go. That could be good advice. It probably won’t hurt.
Just use common sense
You’ll be fine if you just use good judgment and stick with the classics. Don’t use script or modern fonts — they’re not resume appropriate.
And it’s OK to use two, to differentiate between headers and body content, but not more than two.
Other considerations include type size; 12 is ideal. Anything smaller can be hard to read and anything larger is too big. And you can also use bold and/or italics for emphasis. Don’t go overboard with these – but do employ them to highlight important skills and accomplishments.
And keep formatting as simple as possible. Remember that applicant tracking systems are usually reading these things before people do, and they sometimes have trouble with complicated formatting.
It’s not the font – it’s you
At the end of the day, it’s your skills and qualifications that are going to get you the job, not the font you choose.
Need proof? I once applied for a job using Comic Sans, and I was hired. I’m not recommending you do this. I’m just saying it’s not the font.
Put your best foot forward, and don’t stress too much about it. Worry about your skills and qualifications instead.