Job Search Tip of the Week #23 (2017)


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

So how do you put your best font forward?

Let’s first talk about your basic Times New Roman:

Although all of your college professors preferred TNR, it’s a hit or miss with hiring managers. Some see the font as a classic (“clean,” “safe,” and “easy-to-read” are frequent descriptors), others consider it a lackadaisical choice.

“It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected. It’s like putting on sweatpants,” Brian Hoff, creative director of Brian Hoff Design, told Bloomberg Businessweek. Not to mention, warned Business News Daily Managing Editor Nicole Fallon, TNR’s “unlikely to stand out in a sea of résumés.” (Be sure to check out our 10 tips on how to do that!)

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 favorite font alternatives to TNR:

  1. Calibri

    Solid choice, as it’s been the Microsoft default typeface for a decade, replacing Times New Roman and Arial. 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 largely due to increased digital consumption and thus the need to improve screen readability.

    “It renders beautifully” on the computer screen, which is where most résumés are read, noted professional résumé writer Donna Svei on her career advice and job search blog AvidCareerist.

    So if you’re a fan of Times New Roman but getting a bit bored with it, you may want to try out this font on your next résumé. Advocates of Calibri say it’s similar to Times New Roman, yet “more modern.” Click here to download our properly formatted résumé template in Calibri.

  2. 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 Huffington Post‘s Book Editor Maddie Crum.

    Click here to download our properly formatted résumé template in Helvetica.

  3. 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 clean and basic” which makes it “safe.” (Or boring, depending on how you look at it of course.)

    Click here to download our properly formatted résumé template in Arial.

  4. Garamond

    This font is known for being “formal” due to its slightly calligraphic form, and yet “not too fancy.”
    “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 the thinness of the “C” above to see what we mean (and if you want to get fancy, the technical term for this in typography is “diagonal stress“).

    On the plus side, Garamond allows you to cram more information on one page, noted Bloomberg Businessweek reporter Natalie Kitroeff. Great news for those who find themselves just over that one-page mark!

    Click here to download our properly formatted résumé template in Garamond.

  5. Georgia

    This font often gets compared to Times New Roman and Garamond. Compared 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. And compared to Garamond, Georgia has rounder and bolder letters with sharper serifs, which make it easier to read while retaining the calligraphic look.

    In fact, typography experts 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.

    Click here to download our properly formatted résumé template in Georgia.

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

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Image Credit: Allena Mistral