Jobscan Blog- written by Hannah Craig

It might not seem like a big deal, but did you know something as simple as the font you pick for your resume can have a huge impact on your chances of scoring your dream job? Learn how to pick the best font for resume content, what font size your resume should be, how good typography can get you past applicant tracking system (ATS) robots, and what you can do to make your resume stand out to recruiters.

How Does a Font Get You a Job?

Your end goal needs to be making sure your resume catches the attention of a real person. The first step of getting your resume in front of a hiring manager is getting it past the ATS robots. These systems might not recognize uncommon fonts and reject your resume immediately, simply because it can’t parse the text for the keywords it’s looking for. Some top ATS convert your resume into a standard format for a recruiter to read.

If you have the wrong font, the ATS may convert your resume incorrectly, showing important information as tofu, the term for those blank boxes that replace letters, numbers, and other characters when the font doesn’t render.

Studies show us that some recruiters only spend six seconds deciding if a resume is worth pursuing, so tofu or a hard-to-read font can easily result in your resume being rejected without any consideration of your skills or experience.

Typography Basics

It helps to understand some basics of typography before picking a font and formatting your resume.

What we generally call a font is actually a typeface. A typeface refers to a family of fonts. A font is the size and weight of a typeface. That means that Times New Roman is a typeface and 12-point Times New Roman in bold is a font. The distinction doesn’t matter much in the digital age, but it’s helpful to know that you have choices within a typeface. For instance, Roboto, a typeface that Google developed for mobile use, comes in thin, light, normal, medium, bold, and black varieties.

You’ve probably seen sans serif and serif in reference to typefaces or fonts. A serif refers to the small lines or flourishes on the ends of some letters, while sans serif means the font doesn’t have those lines.

Should you use a serif or sans serif font on your resume?

There are other typeface styles beyond serif and sans serif, such as script, which refers to cursive or handwriting-like styles, or slab serif, which involves serifs that are particularly thick and embellished. These and other styles aren’t appropriate for resumes, as they’re often difficult to read at a glance and don’t play well with ATS.

The Best Resume Fonts

There’s a psychology to fonts that allows you to control some of the perceptions a reader might have of you based on your resume. While we recommend specific typefaces below, you’re generally safe sticking to fonts that are ubiquitous, available on most word processing programs (not just Microsoft Word), and easy to read.

Should I Use a Serif Font for My Resume?

If you’re applying for highly compliant, regulated, or formal fields, serif is the way to go. Serif fonts are perceived as reliable and traditional. They lend an air of authority. Use this to your advantage if you’re working in finance, law, or science or if you’re applying to companies with a long history and formal structure.

Best Serif Fonts for Resumes:

  • Cambria
  • Garamond
  • Georgia
  • Palatino
  • Times New Roman (although some believe it is outdated)

Should I Use a Sans Serif Font for My Resume?

If you’re working in innovative and newer fields, sans serif is a good fit for your resume. Sans serif fonts are perceived as modern and clean. They imply innovation and simplicity. Sans serif fonts work well for applications to young companies on the cutting edge looking to be disruptive and in creative or emotional fields such as marketing or writing.

Best Sans Serif Fonts for Resumes:

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Helvetica
  • Tahoma
  • Verdana

Resume Font Size

Another useful piece of resume formatting to consider is the size of the typeface you choose. The body of your resume, including headers, should generally be 10 or 12 points, no matter what typeface you’re using. Your name at the top of the resume can be a bit larger — 16 or 18 points depending on how much space you have to play with.

It’s a standard rule of thumb in resume creation to make sure your resume is only one page – you can bring a more in-depth resume to your interview and use LinkedIn to provide more detail. That one page is essential to get a recruiter’s attention. A lot of jobseekers try to squeeze in more information by using a small resume font size. Another common mistake is to use font size for emphasis instead of bolding or italicizing.

The best trick for a great resume seems easy but is actually really hard to execute: keep it simple. You don’t want to leave out any of your experience, qualifications, or skills, but something has to go. This is why most recruiting and hiring professionals recommend tailoring your resume to the job you’re applying for. Hiring managers, ATS robots, and recruiters are all looking for resumes that fit the role they’re trying to fill, not every job you’ve ever worked. Figure out the best ways to optimize and focus your resume with Jobscan: