Does resume font size matter? There’s a lot of talk about the type of font to use, and in general the sans serif font type is my preference. But what about choosing the right SIZE for your font? And why would an employer really care as long as you have the right qualifications?
I’m so glad you asked that question. There are good reasons to look twice at the font you’re using.
Why you need to pay attention to resume font size
I’ve seen a couple of resumes lately that are not doing the job seeker any good – or at least not serving them as well in their job search as they could.
Right now I’m looking at the resume of someone who has some great qualifications for the type of job he’s looking for next. But as I try to read about what he’s done up to now, I can barely focus on the words. It’s all squished together … and nothing is standing out the way it should.
Plus, some resume screeners may be of an age where it gets harder to read small print. So don’t assume everyone has the same eagle eyes you do. When you prepare a resume and cover letter, think about the reader.
Your main goal when writing a resume is to make it easy for the employer to see in a few seconds your key qualifications and matching experience. Even though you might have great relevant experience, a resume screener might miss it in a quick screening – what most resumes get from a screener before deciding whether to read more thoroughly or put it in the “no” pile.
But I need to fit my resume on one page
I know many job seekers try to get their resume on one page, since that seems like a good choice (especially for online) – and some job search advisers still say that’s the way to go. But NOT if it keeps you from getting selected. There’s no gold medal for a one-page resume in the “no” pile.
To avoid landing in the rejection stack, formulate your font and margins to resume writing standards. The standard margin for a resume is an equal inch on all four sides of the page. This creates a defined and well-designed border of white space that perfectly frames your resume.
If you’re just graduating college or seeking an entry level job, then one page is a great choice. But even there, if you have lots of wonderful volunteer and intern experiences plus other skills and / or awards that you can’t fit into a resume without a teeny-tiny font, then by all means use two pages.
If you have a good amount of experience, including transferable skills you want to target to the job, then two pages is the way to go. Try to stay away from more than that … unless you’re in a field (science, academia, etc.) with LOTS of publications and special projects you’re sure are relevant.
NOTE OF CAUTION: Just check to make sure that the employer didn’t tell you to use one page only in the job listing. Following their instructions to a T is very important. And even in this case, use fewer words rather than smaller fonts. Someone still has to read it!
So what font size should you use?
It actually depends on the particular font you’re using. We mentioned before that a good sans serif is the best resume font. You’ll be safe going with one of these well-designed choices:
- Arial: A classic sans serif.
- Calibri: A familiar default san serif.
- Garamond: A traditional twist on a serif.
But with Arial, a very plain but easy-to-read sans-serif (without that extra flourish) font, 12 point is a good size. If you like Calibri, also a nice sans-serif font, 12 should work well, although it’s a bit smaller than Arial.
To choose a font size you like (that won’t force screeners to squint), open up a page and type something with Arial 12 point and then try other fonts & sizes, picking one that comes close to that size. Again, remember that a sans-serif font is easier to read, especially online.
How big should your name be on your resume?
Your resume should have a consistent font size throughout the page. The only exception to the standard 12-point rule relates to how big your name should be on your resume. Since your name must stand out, it’s safe to double the font size. So if you’re using a size-12 font, feel free to double the font size to size-24.
Some final thoughts
I know some of you have worked hard to squeeze your resume into one page. It’s almost like solving a puzzle. But try to look at it objectively, as someone might if they are glancing at it for the very first time.
You want space and formatting to help focus a reader’s eyes on the things that you most want them to see – experiences and skills that match the job you’re applying for. If your one-page resume makes it even a little hard for them, you may lose any chance of getting called in.
So either make that one-pager as easy to read as possible, with a font that is large enough for most people. Or – and this is usually the right choice for anyone with lots of experience – make your resume a 2-pager with a font anyone can easily read. Please.