Why Your Resume Font Is Killing Its Vibe

09/04/2016 10:52 am ET Updated Sep 06, 2016

Last year, one of the biggest revelations about resume fonts was released, via The Huffington Post, of course. Here’s what I had to say in it:

Much like you, I had been using a variant of Times New Roman for years in my resume. My favorite go-to font was Garamond. Literally, I had been using Garamond in my resume ever since I graduated college in 1999 and continued using it post-law school graduation in 2003. It had a bit more flair than Times New Roman, and to me, it appeared classic and sophisticated. I even had tons of compliments on my resume. Did I also mention that my headings were left-justified with a ton of white space surrounding the content?

Then we entered the digital age, a modern era when 72% of resumes were no longer being read by the human eye.  The advent of applicant tracking systems changed the way we viewed resumes. (Expert tip: make sure you have two versions of your resume, one in plain text format, and the other in PDF/Word). Keywords needed to be entered in very creatively throughout the resume, weaved in from the top all the way thorough the bottom.  Competition ramped up, and now an average of 250 applications were being received for a position.  Employers were spending only 5-7 seconds glancing at a resume before deciding whether to throw it in the trash or take you up on the request for an interview. Not to mention, resumes went from this summary of responsibilities you held, to now being termed as a “strategic marketing document that must sell your value.” Note to self: your resume can no longer be a laundry list of skills, responsibilities, and with an antiquated look. Instead, the content within your resume MUST accentuate your accomplishments and your value PLUS have a modern look. 

My resume always got me interviews. Now all I am hearing are crickets from employers.

You see, in this modern era, with only 5-7 seconds to grab the reader’s attention, using Times New Roman (or Garamond font for that matter) in your resume is simply killing its vibe. You need a font that grabs the reader’s attention and one that is also easy on the eyes. Serif fonts by their very nature tend to constrict the readability because of the curvature in the letters. Unfortunately, they don’t allow the reader to see the words with ease.

Instead, select a sans-serif font which is light, airy, and engages readability.  My go-to fonts for resumes include the following: Helvetica (approved by Blooomberg), Arial, Calibri, Tahoma, and my personal favorite, Century Gothic. There’s also a collection of best fonts to use for your resume. If you don’t believe me, just print out a copy of your resume in Times New Roman and compare it side-by-side to a print-out of your resume in a sans-serif font such as Calibri or Century Gothic. Almost immediately, you will see a difference in how easy the resume is to navigate through. You’ll also notice how much more modern the resume looks instead of it still living in the 90’s.

How can a resume font possibly matter when I have the skills and experience for the job?  

Your resume’s looks matter just as much as the resume’s content. If the resume can’t garner the reader’s attention with “pop,” then the reader will not care about the skills or experience you possess. Imagine what it feels like to scroll through a website see a bunch of words, and just feel overwhelmed instead of invigorated. When the font is antiquated and plain-old boring, it’s the equivalent of a bad date that you just want to exit, immediately. Or, as The Huffington Post put it, it’s like going to an interview wearing sweatpants.

So, toss out Times New Roman, Garmond, or any variation of those two fonts and create a stronger vibe with your resume through the use of a modern sans-serif font. Consider a resume to be like slipping your feet into a pair of red-bottomed shoes that are cutting-edge fashion. But, make sure to also center your headlines, include bullet points for accomplishments/results, and focus on what differentiates you as a candidate. Substance plus form does matter, and your new resume will thank you when the phone starts ringing for the interviews. 

Want more resume tips and career advice? Connect with Wendi on LinkedInFacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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