If you’re ready to truly think of your resume as a marketing piece, then this won’t come as a total shock: font choice is key.

Unfortunately, most people are so focused on writing the content of their resumes that they don’t give a second thought to font, and yet it can make a critical difference in the look and tone of your materials–giving the hiring audience an immediate impression of who you are, what you offer, and at what level you operate.

This is why I recommend looking at your industry—and your desired reader—before picking a resume font or defaulting to Times New Roman.

For example, conservative fields dictate the use of a closed, trim font. Fast-paced, technology-focused careers need a streamlined, sans serif font. Creative fields beg for the use of a fancy, innovative font (at least for your headings).

There are 2 major caveats to font selection: 1) your selection must common enough to be readable on every computer screen and in every word processing program; and 2) font size/spacing will differ greatly—meaning that you’ll have to make point size adjustments if you change your mind.

Here are my overall recommendations by industry:

  • Accounting: Arial 10
  • Operations: Book Antiqua 10 or 10.5
  • IT: Arial 10 or Tahoma 10
  • Sales (VP or above): Garamond 11.5
  • Technical Sales: Tahoma 10 with Arial Narrow 11 Headings
  • CIOs or CTOs: Arial or Book Antiqua 10
  • CFO: Arial Narrow 11.5 and Arial 10

If you ask professional resume writers about their choices in fonts, you’ll hear many variations.

Keep in mind that these fonts are READABLE in nearly every application, and therefore may be a bit “boring” to those who are very familiar with font choices.

I personally find Palatino to be too gray-looking, Georgia too heavy for all-over use (although great for headings), Century Gothic too wide, Calibri fantastic (but not convertible in many applications), and Franklin Gothic Book too narrow for readability.

Don’t be afraid to switch out heading fonts; Garamond has limited readability in italic format, but italicized Book Antiqua closely resembles it and offers much more style.

So take a look at your resume with fresh eyes, click on Select All, and try out a font change (or 2). You might be surprised at the effect–and the results.

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