How to Write an Easy-to-Read Resume

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Hiring managers don’t spend much time on individual resumes, and they spend even less time on resumes that are hard to read. If yours is close to illegible, a recruiter won’t even have to read it to decide that you’re not a good catch. 

In a way, your font choice can be more important than your words—if the font you choose is hard to read, the words are more or less irrelevant. Besides, your quirky font choices won’t be a factor unless you’re applying for a graphic design job, so stick with the boring classics. 

Want to make sure your resume is easy to read? Ask a professional for advice. If you’d rather take a stab at it yourself, here are our tips for choosing the right font.

Font style

Even if you don’t like the boring, standard fonts that everyone uses for resumes, sticking with them is your best bet. That’s not to say you can’t exercise any creative choice in your resume design, but you should abide by tried-and-true fonts to ensure you’re not putting off potential employers. 

Use a font that’s clean,  professional, and easy to read, such as these classics:

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Garamond
  • Helvetica
  • Tahoma
  • Times New Roman
  • Trebuchet

The other advantage of standard fonts is that they’re readable on just about any device. In this vein, even non-standard fonts that look similar are risky. Just pick the standard font you like the most—you do have a bit of choice.

Printed resume

If your resume is to be printed on paper, Calibri, Arial, or Tahoma are the best options as these fonts are considered the easiest to skim. Being more rounded makes them slightly easier to read. 

Digital resume

Today, most resumes are uploaded digitally, and while this offers convenience, it can present issues with readability. The hiring manager may be using a different word processor or operating system, which can change how fonts are displayed. 

Pick fonts that can be read on all digital devices. Many hiring managers look at resumes on their phones while waiting to board a plane or sitting on a bench in the park, meaning your font has to be mobile-friendly, too. 

In general, it’s recommended that you go with sans-serif fonts—the “smooth” fonts without the little decorative curls (called serifs) that something like Times New Roman has. Good choices include:

  • Arial
  • Calibri
  • Helvetica
  • Tahoma

These are all great fonts for a digital resume. The easier it is for the hiring manager to read your resume, the more likely they are to consider you for the position.

The worst font

Never use a font that’s “fun” and “carefree.” Comic Sans is a definite no-no. Your goal is to project professionalism, and part of doing that through your resume is choosing an appropriate (and boring) font. 

Also, wacky fonts will have a hard time with applicant tracking systems (ATSs), which are commonplace today. These computer programs scan resumes before any humans get the submissions and discard any that seem irrelevant or inappropriate. The ATS may not be able to read your unconventional font and will throw your resume out. Save the fun side of your personality for the interview!

The best font

There are lots of wonderful fonts you can use in your resume, but the best is generally considered to be Calibri thanks to its professional and modern look. It has great spacing between words and letters and never poses a problem with readability, so it’s an excellent choice for nearly any professional document. 

Also, most text processing applications have Calibri as their default font, meaning that it can be read on many different processors without sacrificing readability or the formatting you’ve put so much effort into.

Font size

Once you’ve chosen a font, you need to determine its size. Most resumes use a 10-point or 12-point font, which are standard “reading” font sizes. However, some fonts (such as Times New Roman and Verdana) are a little bigger than others (for example, Calibri), so you may have to adjust the size according to the font you use. 

You shouldn’t go above a 12-point size in the actual bodies of text. If you have to go bigger than that to make your resume look long enough, find more material of value to add. You don’t have much room on a resume, so pack it full of as much information as possible to bolster your chances. Besides, hiring managers notice when you increase the font size to make your resume look fuller. 

To help prevent any issues with ATSs, you may have to also eliminate special markings, such as bolded, italicized, or underlined text—sometimes ATSs aren’t that sophisticated. 

While you shouldn’t go above a 12-point font size to extend your resume, you shouldn’t drop below 10 points, either. If you have to reduce the font size below 10 to fit everything on two pages, start eliminating the least important information. That may be a painful process, but cleaning up your resume will work to your advantage. If it’s too long, you risk sounding full of yourself, and hiring managers often won’t even look at resumes longer than two pages. Besides, if your font is too small, the document may not be easy to read. 

In the end, what you’re looking for is professionalism and readability. First, you want the ATS to be able to read your resume, and then you want to make it easy for hiring managers to skim it for keywords (without, of course, sacrificing your smooth, clear, and professional writing style). Obviously, the content should be the primary focus, but if your resume is hard to read, it doesn't matter what you put in there. If you want to make sure it is readable, contact a resume expert for advice or assistance!

Improve Your Resume or CV