Choosing The Best Font for Your Resume 2023 – Font Guide
In This Guide:
We’ve all heard that first impressions count. For resumes, this is certainly true. Recruiters form a first impression of a candidate right away, from the first glance at his or her CV.
How long was that glance? 6 seconds.
Imagine having your future career decided within 6 seconds! Even in smaller firms, HR is often swamped with applications, and the HR officer often cannot spare more than a few minutes to read through your entire CV.
We often get questions about layout, formatting, icons, pictures, etc in resumes. These are important, but there are other considerations.
HR departments today are notorious for their use of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – these automated CV scanners screen a CV for certain keywords, and reject those that don’t meet their criteria.
Because of the way these scanners are designed, fancily-formatted CVs with nice icons and graphics are often filtered because the scanner cannot understand these icons/graphics/pictures, and decide that the CV is ‘blank’ instead.
So when it comes to resumes, it’s best to use a CV template that’s simple, clean and easy to read. As recruiters, one of the first things we notice about a CV is also the font candidates use. This seems like a minor thing. But in fact, the font you choose speaks volumes about your CV!
What’s the difference between Serif and Sans Serif fonts?
Font styles can be categorized into two groups: serif and sans serif.
Serif fonts have subtle decorative lines or ‘feet’ at the tips of their letters, showing a classic and traditional feel.
According to HR experts, “We like using serif fonts as they convey a more classic and authoritative feel. Studies have also shown serif fonts to be easier to read for long passages.”
Conversely, sans serif fonts lack these adornments, boasting a sleek and contemporary appearance.
No matter your font choice or size, it’s essential to print a test page or view your resume on various devices to ensure it appears correctly across different media.
Build your resume for the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) – and steer clear of font and formatting errors; consider utilizing one of our resume samples.
One important consideration is standing out. There are many great fonts out there – there’s nothing implicitly wrong with the classic Calibri, Times New Roman, Arial font, etc. But everybody uses them.
The HR officer will have seen them hundreds, if not thousands of times, and they thus aren’t eye catching. The impression formed isn’t one that is bad, but it won’t be a very memorable one either.
To stand out, we need to consider different fonts.
Basically, serif typefaces look like Times New Roman, while the latter looks like Arial.
When we deal with long paragraphs of text, the general consensus is to use a serif font, as the additional lines are supposed to serve as ‘transitions’ for our eyes, making it easier for us to read and understand the text.
We can use sans-serif fonts for short phrases, such as the headers of our CVs (some common headers I use can be seen here in our Ultimate Guide to Resume Writing but for the main body of your CV you should absolutely consider a serif font.
Best Professional Fonts For Resume
When it comes to resume fonts, there are some that stand out as the best options.
This means that the default font on your word document may actually not be the best font for your CV. A traditional font like those mentioned is usually a safe bet, as they’re clean yet professional.
Let’s take a look at a CV from a hypothetical candidate A:
I’m sure you’ve seen fonts like this before. This font, Comic Sans, is actually widely considered by graphic designers to be one of the worst fonts to use, in any context!
The finance sector is a formal industry with a rich history. This candidate has excellent career experience and would be an excellent fit in a major bank. But, if I were the recruiter, I’d discard this CV without even bothering to look at its contents. Why?
The font looks unprofessional and does not give the impression the candidate is serious.
It gave a poor first impression. It’s too casual and may even border on childish. What a waste! If the HR officer read on, I’m certain A would be called up for an interview.
Let’s take a look at the same CV, using a different font:
Much better! This profile looks appropriately formal, cleaner, more serious, and more professional. I would expect a serious candidate to present professional-looking profiles; my first impression of this CV would be the complete opposite of the previous one!
Garamond is a favorite among designers and ad managers.
It fulfills all the criteria for a good resume font: it’s easy to read, appealing, and classy, and it’s not overused.
Garamond, a timeless serif typeface like Times New Roman, has been in use for about 500 years.
Unlike Times New Roman, the modern Garamond gives your resume a more captivating, sophisticated appearance.
Again, using a professional font is super important in making the first impression. You must present yourself as professional and well-organised, otherwise your CV might be discarded.
I’ve found it to be the most effective out of the hundreds I’ve experimented with. It’s considered one of the most aesthetically pleasing and professional fonts, due to its classic yet polished look. This is the second font we saw above. I generally use this when writing for my clients, and I’ve seen great results thus far.
Some other best font for resume I find useful are:
This is described by its creator as ‘the new Times New Roman’. It’s fairly pleasing on the eye, and looks professional:
This is one of the best CV fonts when it comes to on screen reading, and it’s one of the most popular fonts currently too.
Microsoft states that it was “designed for on-screen reading and to look good when printed at small sizes.” It’s a safe choice for job seekers to use for their resume.
Cambria effortlessly harmonizes contemporary and timeless elements, rendering it an ideal choice for a diverse array of professional documents, whether they are in print or digital formats.
Characterized by its substantial x-height, expansive, open letterforms with minimal contrast and wide letter spacing, Cambria offers a distinctive typographic aesthetic.
The ample spacing it affords between characters and lines significantly enhances the readability of resumes, setting it apart from alternative fonts.
Plus, Cambria boasts an array of weights, helping you to convey various nuances and tones within your resume.
This font is more ‘rounded’ than Garamond or Cambria. It’s rounder letterform shows a friendlier and less stuffy typeface.
Type designer Juan Villanueva from Monotype states, “I dig it because it has default text figures, open forms, and chiseled serifs that make it easier and enjoyable to read. “Its assertive forms inspire a sense of confidence in the copy.”
My take is that this sort of font reads best when printed. When attending an interview, you should take along printed hardcopies of your CV and you can use different fonts in the softcopy and hardcopy. Use Garamond when emailing the recruiter, but print your CV out using Constantia, or one of the other fonts discussed below.
Designed in the 90s, Georgia is still a popular font used today.
This font was specifically designed for use on computer monitors. It looks great viewed on digital documents; perfect for when you’re sending your resume as a PDF.
It is used by the New York Times online and by many big corporations, such as Yahoo, Amazon, and Twitter.
In fact, this is the chosen font for LinkedIn. Its thick serif letterforms give off an authoritative and confident feel, while its rounded edges add a touch of warmth to the text.
This is a consideration if your resume is very lengthy, and you want to cut the page number down (although most CVs can be easily fit into 2-3 pages – any more than that and you’re probably including irrelevant info that will be skipped!) Here’s an example:
Georgia also has excellent readability, making it easy for potential employers to scan through it quickly.
Additionally, the font supports a wide range of languages and offers multiple weights for more advanced typography.
If you’re sending your CV as a PDF over the Internet, this is a great font to consider. It’s a clear font that’s easy to read on computer screens, ideal if you have text heavy documents that make up two pages.
This isn’t a ‘standard’ font that comes with most computers, but I’ve included it as I personally like it quite a bit. While it’s a sans-serif font, it comes across as very readable.
Polish typeface designer Łukasz Dziedzic crafted the Lato font with a unique blend of seriousness and approachability.
Described by its creator as “serious yet approachable,” Lato is an ideal choice for crafting compelling resumes.
It has a sense of summery warmth, inspiring its name, which comes from the Polish word for “summer.”
Additionally, it serves as a corporate font, ensuring its compatibility with professional documents such as resumes. You can readily access Lato in the Google Font library.
A plus is that it also has different ‘weights’ (how bold it appears to be) that we can use to create some aesthetically pleasing designs, like bolding one section, and using a light font in the next line immediately (pay attention to the header of this example, for instance):
I personally love this style. It looks modern and stylish with clean lines that make it a great alternative to more common fonts.
It’s available for download as an open-source font under the SIL Open Font License.
Recruiters and hiring managers will appreciate Lato, and there’s a reason why it’s one of the most popular fonts at the moment.
Mac and Apple lovers will surely recognise this font – it’s a classic used in almost every Apple device, and for good reason!
It’s widely used in many applications – corporate logos of many major MNCs use it (like Panasonic, BMW, Lufthansa, and Toyota), the MRTs in the US use it on their signboards, etc.
If you have to use a sans-serif font, go for Helvetica. Here’s a sample:
Its clean appearance makes it look professional, and it’s easy to read even in long paragraphs of text.
It’s a font that remains popular in the advertising industry as a gorgeous, easy-to-read sans-serif font.
Professionals rank Helvetica as one of the more beautiful sans-serif fonts. It is a perfect font to use for designers and creatives.
Fonts to Avoid for Resumes
1. Times New Roman
Amazed that this one made the list? The font itself is fine; the problem is that it has been overused and mistreated.
It is being used by everyone else; therefore, your resume won’t stand out.
Additionally, Times New Roman doesn’t display well on displays and is difficult to see in small sizes.
This sans-serif typeface was designed in Germany and is more geometric in form.
Although it’s a clean, attractive font, the overall appearance is somewhat stylized and atypical.
With quirks like unusually tall lowercase letters and a jarring contrast between sharp and round letter shapes, Futura leans more toward decorative and interesting than practical for text-heavy documents like resumes.
Designed to mimic the aesthetics of a typewriter, this font shares the illusion that your resume was manually typed on a vintage typewriter.
Even though, in all likelihood, you’ve updated your CV more recently than three decades ago.
Due to its monospaced characteristics (where every letter occupies an equal amount of space, unlike most other fonts that vary in width), it may appear unconventional, especially when used for extensive blocks of text.
4. Brush script
Are you considering placing your name atop your resume in a script font to add a touch of personal flair?
Please refrain from using Brush Script, as it has become commonplace and now conveys an outdated and inexpensive appearance rather than a retro or nostalgic one.
While certain creative fields might permit some flexibility in experimenting with your resume’s aesthetics, when uncertain, opting for more classic font selections is the best choice – meaning, steer clear of script or other decorative fonts.
While it may be tempting to add an adventurous or exotic vibe by using Papyrus font, there’s genuinely no valid reason to do so.
Surprisingly, some individuals do find it appealing. However, it’s essential to exercise restraint.
Papyrus font has reached such a level of cliché that it’s often considered a humorous choice.
Fast Co. Design noted that “Papyrus is the font you turn to when you want to spell out ‘Egypt,’ as every student who has worked on a school project in the past decade can attest.”
6. Comic Sans
Unless you’ve been completely disconnected from the online world in recent years, you’re likely aware that opting for Comic Sans is widely regarded as a major font faux pas.
Created in 1994 and designed in the style of comic book speech bubbles, Comic Sans is best suited for this specific purpose and not much else.
Its casual, somewhat childlike appearance can prove distracting when used in a serious context.
If you’re ever tempted to use Comic Sans on your resume, consider this advice from a seasoned manager: resist the urge.
There you have it – our take on the best fonts for your resume.
We hope this gives you some inspiration on the fonts you can use in your CV.
Beyond looks, however, is content.
The most impressive-looking CV will do you little good if the content of your resume is not up to scratch.
We’ve published some additional content on CV writing in this blog which you should pair with this guide.
In addition, we also offer free consultations on your CV. Just fill in the form below. We’ll review your CV and get back to you with advice and areas for improvement.
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