There’s nothing like a good resume fontroversy. So, to stir things up, I decided to pull a Cook’s Illustrated on my Psychology of Resume Fonts post from earlier this week. If this were Cook’s Illustrated, I’d make seven types of mac and cheese and write in painstaking detail about how I geeked on finding the perfect recipe — so you don’t have to. Instead, I studied the best font for a resume.
This looked like me taking a paragraph from a resume, printing it in Times New Roman, Arial, Calibri, Century Gothic, Helvetica, and Verdana, and discovering what makes one font better than another. If you want, you can eat mac and cheese while you read this.
Times New Roman is a classic resume standby. It’s a serif font. The other five are sans serif fonts discussed in The Psychology of Fonts post. (If this is the first time you’ve ever seen the word “serif,” then go to this post on How to Choose a Font for Your Resume to learn about serif and sans serif fonts.)
Now, on to our contenders:
Times New Roman as the Best Font for a Resume
Times New Roman takes more than its share of eye rolls and nasty comments as a resume font. However, it says, “Reliable,” to your reader. Plus, as you will see in a moment, you can cram a lot more words onto a page with TNR than you can with any of the sans serif fonts shown below. Just that simple, delicious fact often makes it the best font for a resume.
Beyond space considerations, Times New Roman confers an additional benefit. “Conscientiousness” (of which reliability is one aspect) is one of the Big Five Personality Traits. The Big Five get massive attention as predictive factors for job performance. Conscientiousness is the only Big Five Trait that correlates with strong job performance. Thus, when you use TNR, you give a subliminal message of reliability and conscientiousness.
Arial as the Best Font for a Resume
Arial is another perennial resume favorite. It says, “Modern,” to your reader. However, notice Arial takes up more space than TNR, which means you might have to drop some valuable info to keep your resume to two pages. Yes, two pages. Max. Period. End of discussion.
Calibri as the Best Font for a Resume
Calibri is a tasty font that’s easy to read and says, “Stable.” It uses more space than TNR, but not as much as Arial. It’s a definite possibility. Click this link to read more about Calibri as the best font for a resume.
Century Gothic as the Best Font for a Resume
Century Gothic uses way too much resume real estate and is thus a non-starter. Imagine an audio file here as it hits the trash with a big “Splat.”
Helvetica as the Best Font for a Resume
Helvetica uses more space than TNR or Calibri at 11 and 12 points. At 10 points, it’s hard to read. Thus, it’s a second non-starter — unless you’re light on resume material. Beyond that, I prefer a message that says Reliable, Stable, or Trust (see below) to one that says Universal.
Helvetica recently (May 2015) received a ton of press off a Bloomberg article as the best font for a resume. However, the recommendation was made by a graphic designer who doesn’t write resumes. It’s a lovely font, but it’s not practical for most resumes.
Verdana as a Resume Font
Verdana is the final sans serif font mentioned in the Psychology of Resume Fonts post. It’s a common website font, but it’s too big to consider for your resume.
Baskerville as a Resume Font
Now, if you’ve been reading ahead, you might have noticed one more font, Baskerville, down below. The New York Times published a long, evidence-based study about fonts in 2012. It concluded that Baskerville is the most trusted font:
1. Readers are more likely to agree with information shown in Baskerville.
2. Readers are less likely to disagree with information written in Baskerville.
3. Baskerville has gravitas.
Those are all desirable qualities in a resume font.
Baskerville is also a serif font. It uses about the same amount of space as TNR. However, I find TNR easier to read in narrative text. Because of that, I save Baskerville for names and section headings — where it’s good to give a subliminal message of trust.
The Font Comparisons
Please, take a look at these fonts, and feel free to heat up a fontroversy in the Comments section below.
What Do You Think?
Please share your insights in the Comments section below.
Want More Resume Fonts?
Check out 9 Resume Fonts Designers Love, new as of June 2015!
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