When creating a resume, believe it or not, font matters. The psychology of fonts on a resume should be taken very seriously. A resume is an individual's primary means of marketing their "self" to a potential employer. Much ado has been made over font impact by professional marketers. Their research is conclusive. Font choice could make or break the power of a resume.
The Font Brain Hack
So how does this work? Fonts are more than just the style of the printed word. Officially, a collection of text in a particular font is typography. This is when typeface becomes art. For centuries mankind has known that art has a powerful emotional impact on humans. The same can be said for the art of the printed word. Fonts hack into the brain and trigger responses related to the associations the brain makes with the representative art. A font is the personality of the text.
Font choice will affect many variables that, in turn, affect the resume as a whole. Fonts make or break a resume's readability. For example, these two important elements:
- Leading: This is the space between lines upon which the bottom-most point of a letter lies. This space is primarily affected by lowercase letters such "y" or "g". Some fonts will obscure the tails of these lowercase letters while others will read more clearly.
- Kerning: The space between letters is a different value for every font. Letters that appear too crowded may become more difficult to read in a digital format. This can trigger feelings of stress for a reader. Opt for fonts with clean lines and spacing that appear natural and easy to read.
The number one goal when creating a resume is to trigger positive responses. Resume readers should associate professional behaviors with a resume prospect. The second most important goal is to create a document designed for effortless reading. Stress levels should not be elevated by struggling through copy that is too crowded or confused. Research has rated the following fonts according to different readability factors:
- Fastest read through times: Times New Roman and Arial.
- Most preferred: Verdana and Arial.
- Most legible: Arial and Courier.
Popular Serif font logos you may be familiar with: The New York Times, Time Magazine, and Yale University. The most popular fonts of the Serif family are associated with creating impressions of tradition, authority and respectability. Popular Serif font styles are:
- Times New Roman
Serif has traditionally been the most recommended font family for creating resumes. For an added edge of persuasive power, experts claim Baskerville is proven effective to create feelings of agreement between the reader of the font and who the font is associated with.
Some of the most well-known brands are created with a Sans Serif font: Chanel, Evian and Microsoft. These companies are trying to get consumer's to perceive them as modern, stable and having universal appeal. Popular Sans Serif fonts are:
Sans Serif is the font of choice to use for online resumes when it is possible the text could be presented in a smaller format, such as being read on a tablet or smartphone. Even on a larger monitor Sans Serif fonts are more legible as digital print when compared to Serif fonts.
If you are a user of Facebook, Shutterfly or Hulu, then you are familiar with a logo branded in a Modern font. While not typically used for resumes, using a modern font style projects that you are intelligent, sharp and stylish. Popular Modern fonts are:
- Gabriel Sans
Not necessarily considered an unprofessional font choice, the use of a Modern font in a resume should be approached with caution. Understand your audience and determine if this font might work in a particular case.
The Final Decision
The debate that has raged between which is the better resume font, Serif or Sans Serif, may very well be settled by the research. Both font styles carry equal potential to stimulate the desired response for a resume. The difference is presentation. For a traditional ink on paper resume, consider Serif. If your resume is online, intended to be read on an electronic device, Sans Serif may be a better option.
However, a personal decision for a favorite font can be just as successful as the fonts recommended by marketing experts. Take, for example, the Garamond font. It may not make the list of favorites for marketers but Garamond is the number one font of choice for printing professionals. They believe this font has the best design features for digital reading. As for readability, Microsoft font developers claim that Georgia can't be beat for legibility. But one thing all font experts agree on: For heaven's sake, don't use Script fonts for resumes, especially Papyrus. Ever.