Want to make sure a hiring manager reads your résumé? A good first step is to type it in a legible, professional-looking font. You might be the perfect candidate, but employers will never know it if they can't even make out the text on your application.
"Since a prospective employer is looking at the résumé for only [a few] seconds, you want [a font] that is aesthetically pleasing and 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 a difficult process. Though there are several different font families, most job seekers go with serif — a stylized font with tails and other decorative markings, like Times New Roman — or sans-serif, a simpler, no-frills font 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 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 around the Web, here are the best font choices for job seekers, and the kind of message each one sends to potential employers.
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Arial. 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. Jillian Kurvers, director of content at innovation management firm Brightidea, wrote in a Creative Group blog post 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.
Calibri. 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 for 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. [Creative Ways to List Job Skills on Your Résumé]
Garamond. Job seekers looking for an old-style font should consider using Garamond for their résumé. This timeless typeface conveys "a sense of fluidity and delicacy," and has "a simple elegance that looks polished in print ... or on screen," Kurvers wrote.
Georgia. 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 recommends using Georgia because of its readability: The font was designed to be read on screens and is available on any computer.
Times New Roman. Although Times New Roman may remind some younger job seekers of their high school and college essays, this universal font 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, like Arial, using it may be construed as boring and unimaginative, and is unlikely to stand out in a sea of résumés.
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 and expert for Answers.com, said Trebuchet MS is an excellent choice for those looking to set themselves apart from other candidates. Your résumé will stand out from others because it has a slightly unusual font choice, but not be so strange that it turns off potential employers, Bryan wrote on Answers.com.
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, Business News Daily senior writer.
Originally published on Oct. 22, 2013. Updated March 25, 2015.