What is the Best Font for a Resume?
Wondering what the best font for your resume is in 2021? The good news: there’s no one “best” font — just choose one with these three simple guidelines.
By: Daniel Lorenzo | Marketing Director for Let’s Eat, Grandma
Font is important. Ask any designer and they’ll tell you that the styling of text can communicate feelings and messages as strongly as the words themselves. Let’s take a couple of examples…
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Kind of hard to believe either of those messages, huh?
Or, check out what happens when the use of the wrong font makes one letter look like a different one…
Fonts matter — even on your resume. And while there’s no one perfect font for a resume, or even any that will score you bonus points, there are bad fonts to use that can certainly cost you points.
Choosing the “best” font for your resume isn’t worth agonizing over, but there are crucial guidelines to follow to pick a font that is easily readable and pleasing to the recruiter’s eye.
At Let’s Eat, Grandma, we’ve written thousands of resumes to help ambitious professionals land their next job. Here are our 3 guidelines for choosing a resume font that works for you, along with 6 examples of good fonts to use in 2021.
#1) Choose a simple, easy-to-read resume font.
This is the absolute most important rule for choosing the best font for your resume. If nothing else, it has to be easily readable on a computer screen by anybody.
Think about how long the average recruiter will spend evaluating a resume. Do you think it’s 5 minutes? 1 minute?
Recruiters can actually spend as little as 6-10 seconds (and definitely under 30) scanning your resume, and they will often read dozens of resumes in a single sitting. Hiring professionals have very little time on their hands, and often receive hundreds of applicants for each open job (the average is 250 resumes per job!)
If the text on your resume is difficult to read, they might decide it’s not worth that precious time. They don’t care how “out-of-the-box” your font looks — they just want to be able to read it.
This means you need to use a font that is simple, along with a font size that you don’t have to squint at and enough white space to break up large chunks of text. (Read more about those two factors here.)
The Great Debate: Serif or Sans Serif?
If you’re unfamiliar, there are two different categories of fonts. Serif fonts, like Times New Roman, have those familiar little curves at the end of the letters called serifs, and Sans Serif fonts (like the one you’re currently reading) do not. Serif fonts often look more traditional, while sans serif fonts look more modern.
It’s debatable as to whether or not you should use a serif or sans serif font. Generally speaking, sans serif fonts are easier to read on a computer screen (which is where your resume will almost certainly be read unless you’re literally handing it to someone in person.) However, some think serif fonts are easier to read in print and can look more elegant or traditional.
So, sans serifs are typically the safest choice, but you may want to choose a simple serif if it represents your personal brand (more on that later) or you know you’re applying to a more formal industry or company. Just have someone else read it to confirm that it’s just as legible as a sans serif alternative.
Simple font ideas:
Times New Roman (Serif):
Arial (Sans Serif):
#2) Make sure your resume font is commonly found across versions of Microsoft Word.
Imagine spending an hour finding a font you absolutely love… and then the recruiter opens your resume and it’s in a completely different font.
Remember that the person reading your resume may not have downloaded the font you’ve chosen on their computer. (Looking at you, creatives. You might have a great, creative font choice, but it’s not worth a darn if it doesn’t load.)
Microsoft Word is the most commonly used program to view resumes, so choose a font that’s standard on the most recent version of Word. The recruiter might be using an older version, too, so check a few years back if you’re choosing a font that’s not universal like Arial or Calibri. Here’s a handy list of fonts that currently come pre-loaded in Windows (and a list of additional fonts included with Microsoft Word/Office in Footnote #7.)
For example, the font you’re reading here on our site is called Lato. We picked it because it’s a great web font. Looks pretty simple, right? Too bad it’s not standard in Word.
“But what if I’m uploading my resume as a PDF?”
Good point — font compatibility only matters if you’re uploading your resume as a .docx. However, be careful with PDF if you’re applying through an online application portal. While most Applicant Tracking Systems can handle PDF’s, it’s a safer bet that your document will parse correctly if it’s a Word document. Applying via email or otherwise sending your resume directly to a single person? Go ahead and use PDF!
Are you worried about which font is the most ATS friendly? Don’t be.
Among the many myths and misunderstandings about Applicant Tracking Systems is the belief that certain ATS’s will be unable to read or will all-out reject certain fonts. Don’t buy it. These software programs will rarely “reject” your resume, much less for something as small as your font.
At this point, ATS systems can easily read common, Word-standard fonts. An ATS’s text parsing function might confuse certain letters if you use a crazy font, but you’re not going to. If you are abiding by rule #2, then you should have no issues making sure that your resume parses correctly in an ATS. (Besides, you need to focus on the needs of the human decision-makers.)
Elegant Word-standard font ideas:
Verdana (Sans Serif):
#3) Use a font that represents your “brand.”
This guideline is more of a bonus than a hard and fast rule. Have a font that you absolutely love and use all the time? Use it on your resume! (As long as it follows rules #1 and #2 above.) Your resume is a marketing document, so it should align with both your personal brand and the company’s standards.
And since you can count on many other job seekers choosing Arial and Times New Roman, you may want to choose a font that is subtly different. There are plenty of fonts that look unique without looking ridiculous or hard to read. (Sorry, Chiller, you’re canceled.)
Again, if you’re submitting your resume as a .docx file, your font HAS to be easy to read and commonly found in Microsoft Word! If you want to make your resume represent your personality a bit more than others, feel free to branch out a bit within those two guidelines.
Personal branded font ideas:
Futura (a sharp, adventurous Sans Serif):
Garamond (an elegant, austere Serif):
Bottom line: Don’t freak out about what’s the best resume font. Follow these three simple guidelines to choose a font, and we guarantee your resume will be readable and attractive. Then, you can spend more time on what will really land you an interview — exceptional resume content, phrasing, and design.
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