Of all the design choices you make when creating a résumé, one of the most important is the font. The typeface you use to list your experience and skills sends a strong message about your personality, style and professionalism, and the right (or wrong) font can really impact a hiring manager's first impression of you.
"Since a prospective employer is looking at the résumé for only [a few] seconds, you want [a font] that is aesthetically pleasing and [that] grabs the employer's attention at a quick glance," said Wendi Weiner, a certified professional résumé writer and founder of The Writing Guru. "The résumé should be sophisticated in design, with clear headings that stand out."
There are hundreds of different fonts available, so picking one for your résumé can be difficult. Though there are several different font families, most job seekers go with serif fonts — stylized fonts with tails and other decorative markings, like Times New Roman — or sans-serif fonts, simpler, no-frills varieties like Arial. A Weemss infographic on the psychology of fonts said that serif typefaces are associated with being reliable, impressive, respectable, authoritative and traditional, while sans-serif fonts are seen as universal, clean, modern, objective and stable.
No matter which font family you choose, your résumé typeface should be easy on the eyes and should show up well both in print and on a screen, regardless of size or formatting. It's also a good idea to choose a standard, universal font that works on any computer's operating system, as your résumé will also likely be scanned by automated applicant-tracking software.
According to résumé and career experts, here are the best font choices for job seekers, and the kind of message each one sends to potential employers. [Looking for a new job? Check out Business News Daily's job search section.]
If you want to use a sans-serif font, Arial is one of the best options for your résumé. Barbara Safani, owner of the career management firm Career Solvers, told AOL Jobs that she likes to see the Arial font because the lines are clean and it's easy to read. A Creative Group blog post noted that some hiring managers may find Arial to be banal and unsophisticated. However, this tried-and-true classic has become a standard and is definitely a safe choice.
As the default Microsoft Word font, Calibri is an excellent option for a safe, universally readable font. Professional résumé writer Donna Svei is a strong advocate of Calibri on résumés, noting on her blog, AvidCareerist, that this font is familiar to most readers and renders well on computer screens. Svei also noted that 12-point Calibri produces a "perfectly sized" two-page résumé of 550 to 750 words.
If you work in a creative industry like fashion or photography, you can showcase your style and sophistication with Didot. A Canva Design School blog post called this serif font "distinctive" and classy," praising its upscale look. However, author Janie Kliever cautioned job seekers that, since delicate serifs display best at larger sizes, you may want to use Didot only for headings on your resume. Download it from UFonts.
Job seekers looking for an old-style font should consider using Garamond for their résumés. This timeless typeface has "a simple elegance that looks polished in print ... or on screen," wrote The Creative Group.
If you want a traditional-looking alternative to the oft-overused Times New Roman, consider switching to the Georgia font. A Colorado Technical University infographic on Mashable recommended using Georgia because of its readability: The font was designed to be read on screens and is available on any computer.
This clean, modern, sans-serif font is a favorite among designers and typographers. Helvetica appears in numerous corporate brand logos (Nestle, Lufthansa and American Apparel, to name a few) and even on New York City subway signs. In an article on Bloomberg Business, typography expert Brian Hoff of Brian Hoff Design described it as "professional, lighthearted and honest," noting that is reads as "business-y." Helvetica comes preloaded on Macs, but PC users can download it from The Fonty.
7. Times New Roman
Despite being called the "sweatpants of fonts," this universally recognized typeface remains a popular résumé choice. Marcia LaReau, founder and president of Career Strategist, wrote on Forward Motion Careers that Times New Roman will show up as clean, easy-to-read text on any computer. While this font is highly readable and safe, be aware that, as with Arial, using it may be construed as boring and unimaginative, and it is unlikely to stand out in a sea of résumés.
8. Trebuchet MS
Job seekers who want a sans-serif typeface but don't want to use Arial or Verdana can switch to Trebuchet MS. Chandlee Bryan, a certified career coach, said Trebuchet MS is an excellent choice for those looking to set themselves apart from other candidates. Your résumé will stand out because it has a slightly unusual font choice, without looking so strange that it turns off potential employers, Bryan said.
Here are a few other popular résumé font choices that are clear, legible and scalable:
Serif – Bell MT, Bodoni MT, Bookman Old Style, Cambria, Goudy Old Style
Sans-serif – Century Gothic, Gill Sans MT, Lucida Sans, Tahoma, Verdana
Additional reporting by Chad Brooks.