Why you SHOULD Use Times New Roman on Résumés

TimesNewRoman

In the past few days you it seems can’t go anywhere without hearing how “Times New Roman is the worst font for résumés” or how it’s akin to “wearing sweatpants to an interview.”

I’m here today to say that is just plain WRONG.

The trouble all started when Bloomberg posted a piece asking typography experts about the best and worst fonts to use on résumés.  And this is what the search results have looked like ever since…

Times New Roman will also kill your dog and give you gout!

But why should we care about their opinion?  It’s not as if your résumé is going to be judged by a group of typography experts, it’ll be read by a hiring manager!

In fact, your average hiring manager, like most people, probably couldn’t tell you the difference between Comic Sans and Marker Felt or Helvetica and Arial, whereas the average “typography expert” would laugh at you for such grievous sins against fonts.

So, why are we trying to impress typography experts with our résumés?

It goes to a very basic human desire: to cover up our flaws and insecurities.

People feel that if their résumé looks perfect, then it will make up for the flaws, gaps, and imperfections they have in their careers, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

To extend the metaphor that Brian Hoff used in the original Bloomberg piece: if Times New Roman is like wearing sweatpants to an interview, using Didot or Garamond is like a high school student going to an interview and expecting to be named CEO…just because he wears a suit.

Look, your résumé can’t be an incomprehensible mess, typed in Wingdings, and written in a rainbow of colors, but the font you use should be an afterthought, not seen as the key to landing a job.

If you don’t have real substance to your résumé, then the best font in the world can’t help fake it for you.  Likewise, the worst font will never overshadow the fact that someone is a great candidate.

So relax, the font on your résumé doesn’t matter.  Instead of wasting time trying to pick the “perfect” font use that time to add substance.  That is what a hiring manager is going to really see.

Unless of course you are applying for a job as a typography expert.  In that case, you’re on your own.

Comments

  1. Paula Cohen says

    “So relax, the font on your résumé doesn’t matter.” Glad you think so, Nick, but as a career consultant with 21 years in HR and 16 years working for the world’s largest outplacement firm, I couldn’t disagree more.

    It’s not the particular font that matters…it’s the readability of the document. What makes a font matter is how easy it is on the eyes, particularly the eyes of hiring managers or recruiters, who may be required to read — or at least scan — a hundred or more resumes a day. As someone who wants her resume to make a superb first impression, I want it to be visually attractive, highly informative and totally legible.

    That means a clean, crisp, easy-to-read and modern font with lots of white space between the lines, which allows more “breathing room” for the eyes. And that’s Calibri, which is a sans serif font (meaning that it has none of the little wings, platforms or curlicues that you find in a serif font like Times New Roman). Other sans serif fonts I’d also recommend are Verdana, Tahoma, Arial, Century Gothic and Helvetica. These are very common fonts that are found on most computers nowadays, whether PC or Mac.

    Why would I want to use an old-fashioned, spindly, not that attractive font, when I can use one that will make my resume easier to read and more attractive to the recruiter or hiring manager. You’re entirely wrong if you think that esthetics don’t matter in a resume.

    A resume is a marketing brochure. It exists to attract the potential employer, make him or her want to pick it up and read it, and make a good visual impression even before the contents are read. How on earth could the font you select NOT matter?

    • Bill Knegendorf says

      Having interviewed 343 Hiring Mangers, your clarity comment is spot on. Applicant Tracking Systems also place a premium on clarity and legibility. Whether a human or computer system has to interpret the applicant’s submission, Calibri communicates in a clean and easily recognizable format. Hiring Managers have told me, “At the end of a long tiring day, anything that makes my job easier is much appreciated!”

      • says

        ATSs don’t read anything, they just remove formatting. Font has nothing to do with it. Taleo can read Wingdings. Formatting matters much more.

  2. says

    Paula, I could not agree more. As a Career Consultant myself I am constantly doing research to make sure the advice I provide is current and effective. The sans serif fonts are much easier to read and Calibri works particularly well for resumes because it takes up less space that others–allowing for more white space without adding more pages.

    • says

      Those are all great reasons to use a particular font, but no one is being hired or excluded because they used Times New Roman over Verdana. (As was indicated in the original piece) Font is, at best, an afterthought in the process.

      …Hell! Résumés aren’t even that important, but that’s a post for a different day.

    • Paula Cohen says

      Debbie, we’re clearly on the same sans-serif page! Needless to say, of course, esthetics are in the eye of the beholder, and I know people who don’t like the look of Calibri — they say it’s too round and cutesy looking. I’m not necessarily arguing specifically for Calibri (although it is my personal favorite), but for the use of sans serif fonts in general. I also very much like MS Sans Serif and Helvetica.

      But differences in taste are always going to exist. I’m not saying that TNR shouldn’t ever be used. I simply suggest to my clients that they convert their resumes into a number of different fonts before they decide on the one they like best. And about 95% of the time, they choose a sans serif.

  3. says

    I am with the career consultants who have commented here. At CareerHMO, we teach clients to use sans serif fonts, and I consistently hear the same advice from career coaches not affiliated with our company. The only person I ever hear offer advice to the contrary also gives advice that is just as old and outdated.

  4. Donna Thrash says

    I think Mr. Fox may be missing the points made by the career professionals. The lifecycle of a resume has to be considered as the resume is constructed. It will have to pass through many tests on its way to the decision makers and while no one is arguing the necessity of strong content, content matters not if the HR professionals can’t/won’t read the resume. Tasked with skimming dozens of resumes at a sitting, eyes will fatigue. The font used and sufficient “white space” can help minimize this effect thereby increasing the likelihood that the resume will get reviewed and then passed on for a more in depth read. Font does matters to me when I read dozens of resumes at a sitting. Fair or not, if the resume is poorly organized, and difficult to skim quickly, I will not consider it further until the client makes recommended changes.

    • says

      As I said, “Look, your résumé can’t be an incomprehensible mess, typed in Wingdings, and written in a rainbow of colors, but the font you use should be an afterthought, not seen as the key to landing a job.”

      • says

        There’s quite a difference between what “should” be and was is. Remember perception is reality. Look at the font issue this way.

        Lets say you’re an attorney that attended an Ivy League college and then spent ten very successful years in a prestigious law firm. You decide to move across the country so you are interviewing for a job at a new firm. If you show up to the interview in jeans and a tee shirt your education and experience will matter little because the recruiter won’t be able to get past your appearance. Is this wrong? “Should” people only look at your qualifications and not your appearance? It doesn’t matter what “should” be. What is, is that your appearance will either help your hurt you.

        So look at fonts the same way. Yes, you must have credible content, good work experience and achievements, and meet the qualifications of the position. But if they can’t get past the font, no one will every know that. “Should” every resume be read and considered? Maybe. But that won’t happen. The visually appealing, easy to read resumes will score higher.

  5. whatsnext says

    Your article on TNR caught my eye because I had this discussion with a client who mentioned that serif fonts were actually easier to read and process. I then did a bit of research and discovered that this is held to be true. If the document is to be printed and then read, a serif font will “…make the individual letter more distinctive and easier for our brain to recognise quickly. Without the serif the brain has to spend longer identifying the letter because the shape is less distinctive.” Serif fonts are better on the web. Here is the link to the infographic that provided some useful insights. http://www.urbanfonts.com/blog/embed/serif-vs-sans-the-final-battle/. It did make me review my strong held opinion that TNR simply made the CV / resume look dated, like it came straight out of a type-writer! If it is going to be printed perhaps a serif font is the way to go to make it easier to read and process for a busy recruiter? Yes, I know we never know how it will be read, on screen or printed, but the psychology about how we process the font on different formats is interesting! PS: All this is of course, assuming that the CV/resume is well crafted, relevant and tailored to the role!

    • Paula Cohen says

      OK, let’s talk about serif vs. sans serif fonts. As anyone familiar with fonts can tell you, and as we all have seen for ourselves, you will never find a book, newspaper or magazine that is printed in a sans serif font. Some ads may be, but the text itself is always serif. Serifs — the little wings, curlicues and platforms on individual letters — act as “visual railroad tracks” that help lead the eye smoothly across the page, and minimize the breaks between words and sentences that can contribute to eye fatigue. Is this necessary when you’re reading a book, magazine or newspaper for fairly lengthy periods of time, sometimes as long as an hour or two (or more)? You betcha!

      Quick! What is it that’s never read continuously for long periods of time? A resume. At most it’s 2 pages, sometimes 3 if there is an addendum (I’m not talking about CVs, which can be 10+ pages long). A resume is usually given an initial 5 to 10-second scan, perhaps 15 or 20 seconds for an executive resume, then relegated to a “keep” or “toss” pile, and the recruiter moves onto the next one.

      There is no continuous reading, and therefore no need for the eye to be drawn smoothly along the line. Often lines don’t even go across an entire page. Yes, format is crucial in directing the reader’s eyes to different sections, and in positioning keywords and topics. But even a fairly dense executive resume will never be read “continuously” for more than 2 or 3 minutes at a time. The reader will go through a section, think about it, make notes, lay it down, pick it up again. What could possibly cause a recruiter or hiring manager to spend more than a minute or two on each resume? And even 5 minutes with one resume isn’t long enough to incur eye fatigue.

      Crisp, bold and modern looking fonts are more likely to be viewed favorably by anyone faced with a pile of resumes to reach for. If attractiveness and ease of reading weren’t important, then how come this blog’s font isn’t a serif font, hmmmm?

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