When it comes to writing a resume, there a few rules everyone is familiar with — avoid typos, and don’t lie. But many applicants skip over crucial opportunities to show attention to detail, like choosing the perfect font.
“Font choice is another way to present yourself to the recruiter and hiring manager,” says Bryan Chaney, director of employer brand and talent attraction at Indeed.
And research shows that font influences how readers perceive a message. Jason Hanold, who has spent more than 25 years reviewing resumes in his career in talent acquisition, says he wishes people paid more careful attention to their resumes and the fonts they use.
“A poorly selected font can indeed derail one’s chances for an interview, especially if other factors aren’t as strong,” says Hanold, CEO of recruiting firm Hanold Associates. “Fonts set a subconscious tone for the reader.”
Your average worker knows to avoid using Comic Sans, but beyond that, choosing the right typeface for your resume can be tricky. CNBC Make It asked several typographers and graphic designers to tell us the best fonts to use on a resume, and the ones listed here are all available in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
Here are five fonts typographers and designers say will boost your chances of landing an interview:
Four of the eight experts interviewed identify Georgia as a great font to use on a resume.
“Georgia has the classic serif elements similar to Times New Roman, except with a more modern feel,” says Garett Southerton, brand designer and consultant at Garett Creative.
“It stands a part as a sleeker, classier look for your resume,” he says.
Alison Wenlock, founder of Forth&Co. Design Studio, says it’s “an elegant typeface” designed to be read at small sizes, which makes it a good option for a resume.
2. Gill Sans and Gill Sans Light
Jean François Porchez has designed custom fonts for Beyonce and top print newspapers around the world, and recommends the Gill Sans family.
Porchez describes Gill Sans as “classic” and “classy,” adding that “Gill Sans was successfully used by Emmanuel Macron for his presidential campaign.”
These fonts give your resume a “modern” and “clean” look according to Polly Buckland, managing director of The Typeface Group, though she cautions that when used in bold, it “can look a little chunky.”
Five out of eight respondents cited Calibri as a safe option to use. However, some said that since it’s the default typeface for Windows users, it risks communicating to a recruiter that you didn’t make too much effort.
Calibri is “a classic, safe” font, says Buckland. “If you go with this, I’d suggest playing with the size and weight of the font as well as using a variety of words in caps and lowercase to add visual interest and to highlight important sections.” If you’re drawn to Calibri but want to stand out, Porchez recommends opting for Corbel, which isn’t used as often.
For a more assertive and classic look, try Constantia.
“I dig it because it has default text figures, open forms and chiseled serifs that make it easier and enjoyable to read,” says Juan Villanueva, type designer at Monotype. “Its assertive forms inspire a sense of confidence to the copy.” Porchez calls the font “well-designed” and “classy.”
“This font is a classic look with a modern twist, and extremely appealing to read because it’s super easy on the eyes,” says Southerton.
Jason Pamental, designer, strategist and teacher agrees, calling it “extremely readable.”
Both designers also like Merriweather Sans, which is available for free download on Google Fonts if you use Google Drive.
“Consider using the Sans for headings, and regular Merriweather for the rest of the text,” Pamental adds.
In addition to the top five, here are a few others that received nods from our panel:
Wenlock calls it clean and modern in appearance. “This typeface keeps your resume looking polished and professional, while still adding some personality,” she says.
“If you’re going for the most classic and clean look, but don’t want to risk looking the same as everyone else,” Southerton says, “Verdana is your choice.”
“[It is] a highly readable serif typeface — this is a modern version of the often overused Times New Roman,” Wenlock says. “It has a bit of charisma and is a little more ‘friendly’ compared to some other serif typefaces.”
Porchez, as mentioned, recommends Corbel as a more creative alternative to Calibri. He calls it “ultra legible” and a font that adds a “nice unique tone.”
A final tip: Make sure to submit your resume as a PDF file whenever possible, so that you’re sure the hiring manager sees your resume exactly as you do, no matter what program their computer may use to open the document. If you submit as a .doc or .docx, their word processor may alter your resume’s design significantly.
Most importantly, be sure to choose a font you like for your resume, one that reflects your personality and style.
“Because fonts are a foundational nuance factor in a resume,” Hanold says, “you can leverage the right font to your benefit.”