Job Search Tip of the Week – 07/10/2015


You wouldn’t wear sweatpants or a clown suit to an interview, right? So why would you use Times New Roman or Comic Sans on your résumé?

You only have a very small window of time (six seconds, if that) to make the perfect first impression, whether it be in person or on paper – so every little detail counts.

“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,” Wendi Weiner, founder of The Writing Guru and a certified professional résumé writer, told Business News Daily. “The résumé should be sophisticated in design with clear headings that stand out.”

What’s in a font?

Put your best font forward

Although all of your college professors preferred Times New Roman, it’s a hit or miss with hiring managers. Some see the font as a classic (“universally readable,” “clean,” and “safe” were frequent descriptors), others consider it a lackadaisical choice.

“It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected,” Brian Hoff, creative director of Brian Hoff Design, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “It’s like putting on sweatpants.” Not to mention, warned Business News Daily, the font is “unlikely to stand out in a sea of résumés.”

Still willing to take the 50/50 bet? Click here to download our properly formatted résumé template in Times New Roman. Not a gambling (wo)man? Check out these five font favorites identified by Andrew Lord, a summer intern at The Huffington Post:

  • Calibri. Solid choice, as it’s the new universal default. Wrote Lord: “In Microsoft Office 2007, Calibri replaced Times New Roman as the default typeface in Word and replaced Arial as the default typeface in PowerPoint and Excel.” Although Microsoft has yet to officially disclose the reasoning behind this switch, Joe Friend, who managed the team behind the UX design of Microsoft Office 2007, has claimed it was due to increased digital consumption and thus the need to improve screen readability. Along that vein, advocates of Calibri on résumés say it’s similar to Times New Roman, yet “modern.”

  • Helvetica. “Helvetica is so no-fuss, it doesn’t really lean in one direction or another. It feels professional, lighthearted, honest,” said Hoff. “Helvetica is safe. Maybe that’s why it’s more business-y.”

      The consensus: Go with this font if you want interesting yet still professional! Helvetica is a great way to stand out, as it’s not often used. This may be due to the fact that it can’t be found in the Microsoft Office Word 2007’s drop-down font list – so if you’d like to use it, try selecting a passage of text, typing in “Helvetica” into the field where the font name is displayed, and hitting the “Enter” key. You can also check out these eight alternatives to Helvetica, designer-approved and courtesy of HuffPo‘s Book Editor Maddie Crum.

      Click here to download our properly formatted résumé template in Helvetica.
  • Arial. It’s good for more than just taking up space in that high school essay that needs to be 10 pages long. This sans-serif (meaning it doesn’t have those decorative dashes and notches on the ends of the letters, like the “T” written in Times New Roman does) is known as “very basic” which makes it “safe.” (Or boring, depending on how you look at it of course.)

  • Garamond. This font is known for being “formal” due to its slightly calligraphic form, and yet “not too fancy.” It’s also one of the most legible typefaces out there.

    “Garamond is legible and easy for the eye to follow,” Matt Luckhurst, creative director at brand consultancy firm Collins, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Garamond has all these quirks in it, so what that does is allow the eye to see where it should go.”

    Two caveats though: Most say it’s “timeless,” although there are some who consider it “old-fashioned.” And while it looks great in print, it may not always be legible on screen. Take a look at thinness of the “C” below to see what we mean (and if you want to get fancy, the technical term for this in typography is “diagonal stress“):

  • Georgia. This font often gets compared to Times New Roman and Garamond. However, in comparison to TNR, Georgia is larger at the same point size (for reference, all the illustrations in this post are 40-point in their respective fonts), has more noticeable serifs, and appears “bolder” with its thicker stroke widths.

    In regards to Garamond, Georgia “has the same positive attributes…but for me doesn’t feel as dated because it is less curvy,” Samantha Howie, senior HR recruiter at Maximum Management, told HuffPo. Typography experts also note that unlike Garamond, Georgia was specifically designed for computer-screen legibility whether at high resolution or low – printed on paper however, it may look too heavy and clunky. Stay safe and use Georgia for your digital résumé or soft copies only.

Sound Off: What font do you use on your résumé, and why?

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Image Credit: Allena Mistral