Beyond choosing a font for your resume, you have to decide when to use the normal and bold versions of a font. This post shares a resume heat map that shows you exactly where to go bold.
The Resume Heat Map, Eye-Tracking Study
Because bold font draws your readers’ eyes, it’s helpful to use it to guide recruiters and hiring managers to the information that’s most important to them. Doing so creates a visual hierarchy for your readers to follow.
Check out the following resume heat map video (H/T career coach, Phyllis Mufson) to see how readers scan resumes.
The heat map comes from a study that tracked recruiters’ eye movements as they read resumes. It shows you what they focused on and ignored during their first looks. That’s useful information!
Where to Use Bold Font on Your Resume
Now that you know from the resume heat map and other research what your audience wants, be sure to use a bold font on the following elements of your resume:
- Your name
- Section headings
- Job titles
- Employment dates
- Employer names
- Employer locations
- Your name on second-page headers
- Your degrees
If you want to see how easy this makes your resume to scan, check out these executive resumes.
Where NOT to Use Bold Font on Your Resume
I mention where not to use bold font on your resume because candidates often “go bold” inside the narrative descriptions of their jobs and accomplishments.
That’s a worst practice because it disrupts the visual hierarchy your readers want to use to navigate your resume.
While you might think you’re drawing their eyes to the most important information on your resume, that’s your opinion, and it doesn’t respect your readers’ needs.
The resume heat map showed us what recruiters read first. Smart job seekers give them what they’re looking for because they decide whether or not you get an interview.
Always think about what recruiters and hiring managers want. Then give them a good reader experience (RX)!
Updated January 2022
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Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, authors all of AvidCareerist’s posts.
She is a Fast Company Contributor and has written for and been quoted by 100+ business and general media outlets, including Forbes, Inc., Entrepreneur, CNBC, the New York Times, USA Today, Time, US News & World Report, CBS, the BBC, Lifehacker, Social Media Today, IT World, and Business News Daily.
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I’ve been reading through several resumes lately and this point alone can make a huge difference in which ones stood out and which ones failed.
Great tips. I hope others start following.
True, it also makes easier for resume readers to spot the main points of their application.
Definitely agree…a little well-placed bolding can make a world of difference, and too much can make a disaster of an otherwise good resume
You’re right, you just end up reading the bold if it’s in the CV body. However, you don’t seem to on the web. Is that becasue employers are looking for ways to exclude people not trying to find ways to include people?
THIS was an awesome, concise exercise in Resume building. I do use some bold in my cover letters, very minimal but enough that the specific thing I want noticed, seems to get noticed.
Good thoughts in general. People in the arts can be quite different. I teach a graphic design portfolio class at a local college that recently hosted a job fair. Many of my senior level students went to the fair. One student in particular said the company representative commended her on the well designed (not just typed) resume. It stood out. Again, good advice for submitting a resume online but in person or at a job fair, a sophisticated (meaning a stand out) resume will get you noticed where a generic, homogenous one will get lost in the shuffle. It’s difficult to follow the rules and think outside of the box at the same time.
Design is its own vertical when it comes to job search matters — particularly the presentation of self. I appreciate the insights you contribute so much David.
BTW, design is one of my dream careers in another life.
Thank YOU Hope. You’re the best! Donna
I don’t know Richard. I’m always looking for people to include when I’m recruiting.
Thank you Bryce! Donna