September 15, 2015

Resume Style 101 ... Selecting fonts and using font styles

Earlier this week, I came across an interesting article from Workopolis on how an outdated resume can cost you job offers. Although it is targeted at graduates and working professionals, there are some interesting points and it's definitely worth a read - especially the point about font selection.

And so today, I thought I'd talk about how to select the right font for your resume and how to use font styles to highlight specific and relevant information.

Font Selection

Selecting or changing the font on your resume is one of the easiest ways to give your resume a style boost. I remember when I moved from Times New Roman to Arial when I was 19 and I felt like I had a completely different resume.

When selecting the font for your resume, the most important consideration is readability. If it's not easy to read, a hiring manager will likely skip over your resume. So avoid using fancy cursive or creative fonts for body text - instead, use these fonts for heading text or section titles and use an easy to read font for the body text.

Another important consideration when selecting resume fonts is the ability of a hiring manager's computer to render the font you have used. Unless you are applying with a printed copy of your resume or have saved it as a PDF, how your font is rendered on another computer is something you should definitely keep in mind. To minimize any font compatibility problems, stick to classic fonts like Arial, Helvetica, Tahoma, Verdana, Georgia, Garamond, or Times.

And it goes without saying but Comic Sans is one of the worst resume fonts you can use. Although some people have succeeded in using it on their resume, the irony of using Comic Sans will be lost on most hiring managers so just avoid it.

Font Styles

Getting creative with font styles is another easy way to update the look of your resume and highlight relevant information for hiring managers. And by font styles, I mean font size and the font underline, italics, and bold options.

As a general rule of thumb, the body text on your resume should be size 12 - depending on the font, you can make it size 11, but remember to ensure that it is readable. Section headings can either be the same size or size 14.

In terms of font styles, consider using bold, italic, and underline to highlight relevant information. For example, on my resume, the name of the organization I worked for is in bold and my job title is in italics. I made this decision as I focus on the type of organizations I have worked for and not necessary my job title. However, in the past, I have switched it and put my job title in bold as I was going for a similar job and wanted to draw the recruiter's eyes to my experience.

You can also use font styles to highlight specific aspects of your duties. For example, let's say you worked as a Sales Associate and this is one of the bullet points listed in your job duties/accomplishments section:

- Won the "Highest Sales" award in December after generating more than $500 in sales each shift

If you wanted to use font styles to make certain information stand out, here's what you could do instead:

- Won the "Highest Sales" award in December after generating more than $500 in sales each shift

As you can see, your eyes are immediately drawn to the name of the award and the amount of sales generated during the shift. However, you need to use font styles sparingly. If you use them too frequently, you'll lose the impact that these styles create and your resume will look messy, increasing the chances it will end up in the NO pile.

So what's the main takeaway?

With the right font selection and use of font styles, you'll refresh the look of your resume, make information easier to find, and increase the chances of getting a positive response from a recruiter.

And be sure to come back on Thursday for the second part of this series where I'll be talking about how to create your own personalized letterhead.