The objective of a resume is to sell yourself to an employer as quickly as possible. For this reason, the information presented should be as easy to read as possible. It has been said that good design is invisible and this is the truth when it comes to your resume. You do not want the design of your resume to distract the hiring manager from your attributes. The design should be clean and subtle while presenting the information in a straightforward manner. You should not try to use design to stand out, but rather strive to impress with your organization. That being said, there are subtle decisions you can make to aid your resume in feeling personal. Choosing the right font for your resume can help you translate your personality to your potential employer.
No matter what, you want to stick to a typeface that was designed to be used for body copy specifically. Often on programs like Microsoft Word, next to the typeface you can find “(body)” which will signify the typeface’s intended purpose. If you are not sure about a typeface, a quick Internet search about its design can help. Beyond sticking to a body text typeface, you can choose between a serif and sans serif typeface font for your resume. Neither is wrong. However, this decision will aid in the personalization of your resume. For example, Helvetica is a safe modern classic that is straightforward yet still stylized. Times New Roman on the other hand is very basic since its often a default font, which is perhaps appropriate for a job not within the design world because of its universal familiarity.
As for other typographic decisions, you should try to stick to a font no larger than 12-point. Also, feel free to have a complimentary typeface for your name and heading. It is also in good practice to use a typeface with a typefamily in order to create variation and hierarchy throughout your resume. A typefamily just means that the font has options in regards to width, weight, and slope. The following example combines bold and regular Avenir.
Another good rule of thumb is to use the same typeface used on your resume for any other supplementary documents required in the application process, such as a cover letter. Having your own sophisticated logo is also a major plus. You can learn more about how to make your own logo on my blog. Here’s a brief guide to choosing a font for your resume, from best to worst:
Calibri: Made to be read on computer screens, stable, familiar
Georgia: Traditional yet a new classic
Veranda: Designed to be legible in small size on computer screen
Avenir: Very crisp, modern
Gill Sans: Simple yet still holds a lot of personality so make sure it feels fitting before using it
Arial: Clean, readable, but its the most basic san serif so risk seeming unsophisticated
Futura: Better for titles than body copy, little too stylized for a resume
Courier: Distracting, not easily to read
Impact: Too bold, discourages reading
*Note I am using “font” and “typeface” interchangeably in this blog post.