I am one of those people that likes to have an up-to-date resume on hand at all times, just in case that amazing, perfect-for-me job comes along and I have to send off my resume to a potential employer in a snap.
A few months ago, I realized it had been a while since my resume had been updated. So one afternoon I sat down to review my portfolio and do some in-depth research on current trends and resume tips. I considered my resume format, the resume skills I had listed, my resume style, and my font choice. According to designers and business professionals alike, my resume needed revamping. A lot.
What I Was Doing Wrong
Come to find out, not only was I using an outdated typeface (hello, Times New Roman) but my font size was wrong and my layout needed some serious work. In case you wondering, you should keep your font size between 10 and 12 point (and make sure you have a one-page resume; many recruiters will simply skip over anyone who has a two-page resume). Who knew trends in the resume world changed just like those in the fast fashion world? To be fair, I would not consider myself completely resume illiterate. I can confidently say I have never used Comic Sans for, well, anything.
I have always kept my professional resume concise. But because competition in the job market is stronger than ever, you really need to let your resume shine. Most of the time, it is the first impression recruiters and interviewers get of you and your skill set. There is an abundance of advice out there for all types of job seekers.
For instance, if you are a graphic designer looking for your next project, the overall look and feel of your resume will be very different from someone looking to land an HR gig. Your resume template — including the layout, design and material of your resume — is something you should spend some serious time on, checking out prime examples of successful resumes and garnering tips by professionals in your particular industry.
But there is one thing you can do now to make your resume look fresh, and that is use an updated font that is universally accepted across many different industries. Once upon a time, Times New Roman was THE font in the resume world. But with everyone using it, resumes all started to resemble each other and it was getting harder to stand out from the pack. Fortunately, default fonts have changed and there are now numerous accepted fonts that most recruiters and professional designers agree on.
After a deep dive into what various sites and blogs recommend, it seems the universal truth for resume fonts is sticking to the serif and sans serif font family. Sans serif fonts tend to be cleaner and more simple than their cousins on the serif side (looking at you again, Times New Roman).
Sans serif fonts use clean strokes and not do include decorative flourishes at the end of the letters. They are more universally flattering and easier to read, therefore making them excellent for resumes and other official documents. However, a lot of serif fonts made the top of lists and were considered just as effective if you didn’t want to stray too far from the “classic” look Times New Roman offered.
The common belief is that recruiters take just a few seconds to scan a resume. Therefore, you need to make sure your skills and experience are clear and can be easily read — having a scannable resume is a deal breaker.
Below are five safe serif and sans serif fonts that are recommended for resumes in 2017:
1. Arial: Consider this a safe choice. It’s favored among more creative positions and those in the marketing and PR fields. However, keep in mind that some experts call Arial the “sans serif version of Times New Roman,” so you run the risk of blending in with others if your resume follows a basic template.
2. Calibri: This sans serif font one is the most universal and was at the top of almost every list I found. It is the perfect balance between classic and simple. It also happens to be the default font for numerous email programs as well as Microsoft Word. It is one of the easiest fonts to read but might lack a certain flourish some job seekers are after.
3. Garamond: Another serif font with a classic feel, this one also resembles TNR but has an elegance about it that differentiates itself enough to stand on its own.
4. Georgia: This serif font is probably closest to TNR but has thicker strokes making it a littler easier to read. If you really can’t get away from the classic feel of TNR, then try Georgia instead for a more updated look.
5. Helvetica: This sans serif font is a favorite among typographers and designers. Helvetica has a very clean look and is the perfect choice if you want your resume to look modern.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Other standout fonts like Didot and Cambria were also commonly referred to as good alternatives to TNR. It is important to do your research. Keep in mind what types of jobs you are applying for and try to find visual examples of strong, easy to read resumes in that field. The most important thing to remember that your resume is a quick snapshot of your professional self — and a potential employer may be more influenced by font choice and resume font size than you might think. You want to make sure you have a professional resume that stands out from the rest and offers easy to read bullets and a nice summary. You’ve only got a few seconds, so make them count.
Kate Mason is a certified life coach, specializing in the beautiful mess that is motherhood. You can check out her specialized coaching program, MOTHERLOADED, and get more information about Kate at KateMasonCoaching.com.