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Which Font Should You Use On Your Resume?

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

Contrary to popular belief, having *just* proper information in your resume is no longer enough to get you invited for an interview. That information also needs to be properly formatted, including appropriate fonts and font sizes, but also excluding any photos, pictures, charts and other multimedia. It also needs to have proper keywords and search phrases, as well.

All those things might seem a bit over the top for something as simple and straightforward as a resume, but in truth, the hiring process is no longer that simple and straightforward, at least from a job seeker's perspective. As companies looked to speed up the hiring process, many have implemented what's now called the Applicant Tracking Software System (ATS System), which automates a great deal of the process. The ATS system is designed to weed out all the inadequate resumes – those that don't fit the criteria set by the hiring manager. Only after the ATS system is done, will it forward the filtered set of resumes to the manager.

You must be wondering – what do fonts have to do with the ATS? I'm glad you asked. You see, the ATS system can sometimes have trouble reading certain fonts, just as it is incapable of reading images and photographs. And if it can't read something, it will discard it as invalid. You need to choose the right font in order to avoid being eliminated by the ATS system.

Why can’t the ATS read all fonts equally?

First, we need to understand what makes the ATS discard a bunch of resumes just based on the font. There are two major types of fonts in today’s digital world, the Serif group, and the Sans Serif group. You’ll notice, for example in Word, how certain fonts have the word ‘Sans’ in them, and some don’t. Serif is actually the little curve at the ends of the letter, just like a finishing touch. Sans is French for ‘without’, and if you take a closer look, you’ll see that Sans Serif fonts are stripped of those finishing touches.

And that’s what the issue is with ATS systems – some of them can’t read these Serif formats. Find professional resume help from expert companies to determine how to craft an incredible resume.

Here's where things can get a little confusing. A simple Google search for terms “Resume ATS fonts” will yield 336,000 results in 0.63 seconds, many of them giving conflicting information. Some articles you can read there will tell you that ATS systems used to recognize text as images, which is why it was important to have the proper font (otherwise it can’t read the resume). They will also tell you it no longer operates that way, but instead reads the font as text – rendering the font irrelevant.

Others will tell you this is not the case, and that fonts are one of the defining factors between a successful resume, and a failure. No matter which side you take, I can tell you one thing – it’s not worth the risk. If a simple of a change, such as the font, can make the difference in you getting invited to the interview or not, then you should definitely consider choosing the right font.

Which fonts are the best to use in my resume, then?

So you're asking yourself, "what is the best font I should use in my resume?" Now that we know what makes a good font, and what makes a bad one, we can choose which one to use. A lot of people still use Times New Roman, as that font has become something of an industry standard in the business world. However, Arial, Calibri, Impact, Tahoma, Courier and Trebuchet are your best bets, as they are all Sans Serif fonts, and with these you’ll be safe. I’d recommend not using Times New Roman. But I know what you’re thinking… Comic Sans also fits the description!

You should not forget that once the ATS System filters the resumes, they will still make it to the hiring manager for a closer inspection, so you should definitely steer clear of Comic Sans.

There’s another important reason why I mentioned the hiring manager – font size. People still print out these resumes and read them on a piece of paper. For many, this is still the more convenient way. However, they will not bother fixing your resume, they’ll just print it as it arrives, and if your letters are too tiny, not only will the hiring manager have a hard time reading the resume, the letters might also become somewhat grainy, if your font size is less than 11.

Keeping that in mind, I would suggest keeping the text in the body at least 11 in font size, and the title (your name) 12 – 14, depending how long your name is.

Resume building – a demanding task

As you’ve seen, creating a great and impressive resume has become quite a demanding task. It is no longer sufficient to ‘just’ have all the right information on your resume, you also need to make sure it passes the ATS system first. And to do that, you need to make sure you use the proper font and font size, to format the resume in the right way, include all the necessary keywords and search phrases, and stay away from all the different elements that can render your resume invalid, such as images, photos, charts and graphs. So remember, seek help from talented resume professionals in Tempe and Phoenix AZ.

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