Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert 11 May 2021
One great way of improving both the presentation and effectiveness of your CV is to choose an appropriate font for your CV.
At first, a CV font selection may seem like a trivial matter. What difference will it make?
The fact is that your font selection can make or break your chances of being shortlisted for a job interview. Here is why…
The sole purpose of your CV is to convey information about you to the employer. Anything that hampers this objective will negatively impact your chances of being invited for a job interview. CVs with fancy, distracting, unprofessional or difficult to read fonts are never read.
Recruitment managers are busy people and they do not have the time to sit down and decipher or interpret your CV. You have to get their attention right away as recruiters spend less than 30 seconds looking through your CV.
Believe it or not, there is a whole science behind fonts.
When deciding on a font for your CV you should make sure the typeface is legible, professional and mainstream.
The legibility or readability of your CV is the single most important condition for any typeface that you choose. The font that you select should make your CV aesthetically pleasing and effortless to scan, skim and read.
Many applicants choose “fancy” or “beautiful” fonts to make their CVs stand out from the crowd. These typefaces usually distract the reader from the document’s main content.
This is a fatal mistake to make.
What is the point of making your CV “beautiful” if it becomes more difficult to read? The point of a CV is to convey information, not to look beautiful per se.
TIP: Research has shown that certain fonts are easier to read on the screen than on paper and vice versa. You should ensure that your chosen font looks good on paper as it does on the screen.
You are not looking for the prettiest, cutest, or most amazing font that has ever existed. There are many fonts that are amazing on their own but when used on a CV it will destroy all your chances of securing a job interview!
The job recruitment and hiring process is a highly professional process.
It will do you no good if one of the most important documents in the recruitment process, your CV, is presented in a fancy font with symbols, shapes, curves and lines. Select a typeface that conveys professionalism.
Besides being legible and looking professional it should also be mainstream (i.e. widely-adopted, universal or conventional).
Employers are used to seeing certain mainstream typefaces and they will recognise it subconsciously when they see it.
By introducing new radical fonts, you risk making your CV stand out from the other mainstream CVs in a negative way.
You might as well hold a sign over your head stating “I am a loner!”
Additional benefit: Mainstream fonts are widely supported by various operating systems it shouldn’t cause problems if your CV is scanned by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).
To assist you in your decision making, we have compiled the top 10 best fonts to use on your CV (size: 12 pt) along with examples of how they will appear on your CV.
All these fonts meet the above three criteria and are acceptable to adopt.
It comes down to your personal choice which one you prefer to use.
It’s the best of both worlds; hence it is ranked #1.
Many governments and major international organisations have adopted it as their chosen display font for their products and services.
There must be something good about it if it is so popular, right?
Many CV experts would recommend using Arial as your CV’s font. It is not difficult to see why. Its clean and elegant format makes reading the text easy and effortless. There are no distractions either in the visual presentation of the letters or the spacing between the letters.
This classic typeface does the job excellently!
Various studies and surveys, including those conducted by the Software Usability and Research Laboratory at Wichita State University, found that Verdana was amongst the best of fonts for legibility.
Verdana is in many respects similar to Tahoma (see #8 below).
The serif fonts look OK on screen but really stand out when printed on paper.
This font closely resembles Times New Roman typeface (see #9 below) but its unusually large x-height and bold weight are comparable to Verdana.
This font is a safe bet, particularly for students and young professionals.
As can be seen from the above example, however, the Tahoma typeface has much tighter letter spacing and a narrower text body. This can make the text look cramped and restricted if you’re using a small font size!
It is of the serif typeface family, with some resemblance to Calibri due to its letter spacing and having a light feel to it.
According to most experts, there is nothing wrong with the font itself per se.
The main problem with it is the fact that it is so widely used for CVs that if you select this font your CV it will not stand out from the other CVs. They will all look and feel the same.
So why is it included on this top 10 list?
The reasons are; a) it meets the three criteria laid out at the beginning of this article, b) it is one of the most popular and influential fonts in the history of typeface, c) it is aesthetically appealing and d) because we not want people to stress about changing their Times New Roman typeface despite liking it!
The font size of a text determines how large its characters will be displayed on a screen or printed on paper.
The measurement of size is usually in points (pt).
The standard font size for displaying regular text on websites, books and magazines is between 10 and 13 pt.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no fixed size for displaying your CV as this is dependent on your chosen typeface.
Given these differences, it is highly recommended that you experiment with different font sizes to see which size is appropriate for your CV.
Never go below or above the 10-13 pt range.
TIP: If you struggle to put all your information on 2 pages, consider changing the typeface of your CV as that might free up some valuable space!
It is perfectly acceptable to use one typeface for the main body text of your CV and another for the headings.
In most cases, this will improve the presentation of your CV by nicely dividing the main content and the headings into two distinguishable parts.
Tip: It is recommended to use Verdana or Tahoma to create impactful CV headings.
It is very easy to select another font in Microsoft Word or any other word processing applications:
Step 1: Highlight all the text of your CV (or press Ctrl + A on your keyboard)
Step 2: Navigate to the “Fonts” option in the user interface:
Step 3: Select a font from the dropdown menu and click on it.