May 29 2015
By: Tom Wahl
That is an odd combo, isn’t it? But trust me they all relate.
I was sitting at my youngest son’s annual youth club soccer tryouts which determine the team level he makes for the coming year. As I was watching him play. I started contemplating why it is that we parents pay quite a few hundred dollars to an Adidas sponsored club for the privilege of being required to bring our own ball to practices; buy Adidas uniforms at full price, and pay for field rental at the club’s fields.
Fortunately for my well being, I started hearing a half dozen conversations with phrases like: “We just moved here from South Carolina…”; “This is the longest we’ve been in one place…”; “We thought we were off to Okinawa this summer, but it was postponed…” (I felt sorry for them).
These conversations finally hit me – it’s PCS season.
I kind of miss those days – the excitement of going somewhere new. Fortunately for me though, as a spouse, I could enjoy the moves because I didn’t have the stress of finding work. For one, Mary Claire and I set ourselves up with spending and saving habits that allowed me to stay home with the kids (Dave Ramsey would have been proud). Second though, my part time career was teaching a class a term online for UMUC. I started that teaching gig when we PCSed to Okinawa in 1998 and have kept it ever since. Being online, it was a very transportable career – and UMUC was very amenable to spouses teaching.
Now, the resume string (see, it all unfolds logically) – I taught and teach business writing classes. At UMUC and at UCCS here in Colorado Springs, I see a lot of milspouses and vets in my classes. And in the resume section I’ve taught (and teach) every term, I see one primary lesson that applied to all milspouses and vets; and, as readers start their PCS moves and their job searches, I wanted to address that lesson: resume font choice.
It seems a small thing, but when the average review of a resume is 6 to 10 seconds (yes, research has been done on this), job seekers need a well designed resume that stands out to an employer. An important lesson I teach in my business writing courses is document design (if the document doesn’t look inviting or impressive to read, it won’t get read). Along with using formatting tools such as bold and italics, font choice is a primary element of document design.
In resume document design, job seekers want something that stands out from their peers – and nothing underwhelms an employer more than a template with Times New Roman font. That screams “default” – and “default” is the last thing you want an employer to think of your resume (especially if you are claiming to be an expert at Word).
So, before I recommend a font or two, let me start with those not to use. First, as mentioned, is Times New Roman. As one resume design expert says, “It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected,” says Hoff. “It’s like putting on sweatpants (for the interview).”
Times New Roman has it’s use, but resumes are not one of them.
Next, don’t use Courier. I can’t say why not any better than as the article states: ““You don’t have a typewriter, so don’t try to pretend that you have a typewriter…”
Finally, last but at the top of the “do not even consider using” list is Comic Sans. This looks fine on a middle school student newsletter (and that’s even questionable), but not on a professional document. Let’s put it this way, even Weird Al Yankovic sings sarcastically about using it in a resume.
Finally: What to use? The article above discusses a few good options (even one you can purchase), but it’s best to stick to a professional, business-like font such as Helvetica or Arial. These look sharp, professional, and business-like. It’s that simple.
However though, if you feel compelled to use a font with little feet at the ends of the letters (those are serif fonts), or if pressed for space (a more likely desire), consider Garamond. Garamond is easy to read and will compress your resume a bit. And surveys have shown it to elicit confidence in readers.
As you job search, keep in mind that you need to impress the interviewer, and your resume is the first step in that process – and the font is the first thing that grabs the employer’s attention. I hope this helps.
And for more tools to help you keep your career on the move, be sure to check out MOAA’s Transition Center!