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Resume Controversies: Colors and Fonts

By Christina Milich

Everyone has an opinion on how a resume should look. I learned this the hard way when I started writing my first resume. Everyone I went to had their own technique and style. They all had different tips and tricks and figuring out what was best for me was hard.

Let’s start with some important tips:

  1. Employers want your name and contact information in a large, legible font at the top of the page.

  2. Unless you have several years of working experience, your resume should be one page.

  3. Each category of information on your resume should be clearly marked and organized chronologically.

  4. White space is a must.

  5. There should be a lot of quantifiable results with explanations under your work experience.

Now, there are a few things that are more up in the air and two of those things are font and color. I have spoken with 50 professionals about their opinions on these topics. It was a mixed batch, to say the least, but here are the most common answers.

Finding Your Font

Your resume needs to represent you and have consistent messaging. You are a brand and you need to represent that brand in the best and most authentic way every time you present yourself, including on paper. If Times New Roman, 12-point font represents who you are as a person, then go for it! But for most of us, that isn’t the case.

Personally, I use Century Gothic. It is clean-cut and has large letters, but a small amount of space between the letters. This way it is still legible, but I can fit lots of information. It represents me because it is approachable and clean, yet eye-catching.

Font Do's

Safe bets include Arial, Bookman Old Style, Calibri, David, Kalinga, and the classic Times New Roman. There are many more options for fonts that would work perfectly, and the ones I have mentioned can merely be an example that you can use to compare other fonts too. It is also important to be consistent with one font on your resume. It can be customized by bold or italics, but it should be done sparingly. Keep in mind that most resumes recruiters read will be either Times New Roman or Calibri, so not using one of those fonts will make you stand out immediately.

Font Don'ts

There are a few important things to consider when picking a font for yourself. One of the most important things to consider is legibility. The font should never be swirly or cursive and it shouldn’t be gimmicky. So, no Comic Sans or Lucida Calligraph. Generally, any font you use should be naturally un-bolded, with no italics and without any special additions.


Dreaming in Color

The other resume controversy to think about is color and there are a few guidelines to follow when using color. From my experience, most recruiters prefer your resume be black and white according to many of the recruiters I’ve talked to. However, don't shy away from using color!

The only exceptions to this could be graphic design or art major of some kind and unless you fall into that category, there should not be color blocking or large chunks of an area with color. Color is supposed to be an accent, not the whole show. Generally, for a PR student, the recommendation was one to two complementary colors maximum.

Colors should be used lightly to mark different sections of the resume. I would recommend one color and keep it consistent in everything you do. I choose to use color in my resume because I think it represents me well. I am creative and happy, and my resume represents that. I have chosen yellow and I use it to separate and underline each heading as well as highlight my name. These are just small accents that don’t distract from the information. If you feel like your personality represents a color, pick a color!

Everyone wants something different from a resume. It is your job to decide what is best for you and represent who you are, while also making the recruiter’s job easy. So stand out! Make a bold choice and choose to be remembered.



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