Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Fonts in Resumes

Hi Everyone,

Today I wanted to discuss a couple of basic rules about using Fonts in a resume.

An issue I have been seeing lately while assessing resumes has included a number of jobseekers who are going for mainstream employment are trying to make themselves stand out in a crowd by using fancy fonts in their resume and cover letters.

I want to clarify: the only way to 'stand out from the crowd' is to submit an application (cover letter and resume) that demonstrates to an employer that you have the skills, not do things that are gimmicky and metaphorically have you jumping up and down shouting 'Look at my resume, look at my resume!' Trust me, those latter resumes are the first to be culled.

Too many jobseekers appear to have misinterpreted advice that they need to stand out in a crowd with 'do something different'; the trouble is, everyone is trying to do the same 'differences'. In a stack of resumes riddled with fancy fonts and other such trickery in attempt to be looked at, one thing becomes very clear to the person a doing the culling: a professionally presented resume and cover letter, when it is presented. And when that plain, neat resume then also contains - from the short skim read that is given to it - information that is completely and fully relevant to the position, employers and recruiters want to look at that resume in greater detail because they think 'we may have a winner here.'

I personally have found that less than ten percent of all resumes received are written and presented in a professional style, and this made it easy for me to eliminate ninety percent of the applications without too much effort. My job as a recruiter was/is to find the best candidate possible.  Your job as a candidate is to cause me, the recruiter, to think you might be that best candidate.

But back to how to use fonts in a resume and cover letter...

The only time fancy fonts are needed in a resume is if you are applying for a job in a Creative field, where using non-standard, non-commercial style fonts can showcase your creative 'eye' and design skills. But these people aren't going to use just one non-standard element though; they will put all of their advanced design skills into practice and use layout, colour, design, and placement to name a few to create their attractive but creative document.

I believe it is particularly important for anyone seeking to gain work in an office environment to use standard business format - page size and margins, standard commercial fonts and font sizing and simple yet effective element word-processing highlights, such as bolding text, to make your content stand out in a good way.

So what are some standard commercial fonts? I'm glad you asked!

Serif* fonts, include:
  • Times New Roman - yes, as hated as it is amongst designers, plain text can look great with this standard font.
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Cambria (the font you are reading now on this blog)
Sans Serif fonts, include:
  • Ariel
  • Verdana
  • Calibri
 (*Serif fonts have those little strokes, where as sans serif don't - because sans means 'without')

The next 'rule' to follow is to use a font size for your body text that makes reading easy: size 12 pt. Any smaller and people with vision problems will struggle, and even people with good vision can develop eye strain from prolonged reading at a smaller size. Yes, the reader can use Zoom feature to enlarge the text to a more comfortable level. But most won't, and even those that do might notice that they are having to do so because you have made it difficult for them, which is not what you want them to notice about you.

Any larger text - that is not a Heading or Subheading - and it just looks like you don't have enough information 'meat' and are trying to fluff your document out with 'filler' or gimmicks to trick the reader into thinking you have more content than you actually do. Once again, do you really want the astute hiring manager to notice that about you?

Another 'rule' is to use no more than two different fonts in the same document, one as your body text another type as your headings. The best combination uses a serif and sans serif font rather than serif with serif or sans serif with sans serif.

But don't just take my word for it: do a web search - Google, Bing, Yahoo, I don't care which search engine you use - and research typography, or creating professional looking business documents and you will find the trustworthy sources will all say the same thing.

Go on, stand out in a good way: submit quality applications with business fonts and font sizing.  You might find that just this small change could make all the difference to changing your jobsearch efforts from no result to having employers phone to invite you for an interview.

Happy, productive jobsearching!


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