Nov 012010

Getting Fancy

In addition to being sources of information about you, your resume presents an image, and images impact the beholder on first sight. You determine the first impression you leave with whoever reads yours. Do you want it to be dignified, flighty or arrogant? Little things on paper make large subliminal impressions and predispose the recipient in your favor or not. If I have to squint at a resume in some odd gothic script, I am most likely going to be less positively inclined to the person who made me read it.  If something is nice and balanced, easy to read and  has good information, I’ll probably be eager to meet her.

Anything you write or hand out can look sloppy, artsy, straight forward, dignified, professional or just crammed.  They can lend your presentation an airy feel or give it a certain weight (suggesting importance.)  The most important part of your written application or inquiry about a position is of course its content, but that doesn’t mean is shouldn’t look good. After all, you press your suit before you go to an interview (I hope).

One thing that determines the initial impact of your resume is your choice of Fonts, once called type face. They range from wedding announcement  to stuffy to Tequila bash  flip, and you’ve got the choice.  Choose Whacky Tango and kiss the Four Seasons good bye.  If you want your presentation to make give the first  impression of an extremely competent and together professional, ” Jokerman” isn’t going to serve your purpose. What will?

One philosophy of choosing type face is that if you want people to be able to read and ingest information easily, you use a “serif font”. That’s one with little feet. Classic serif’s are Times’ New Roman, Cambria and Garamond. They tend to appear professional and sometimes a little formal.

If you want something to stand out, the wisdom continues, use sans serif, or footless fonts. Examples of that are Microsoft Sans Serif and Ariel, but there are many.

Given the choice, I generally go with Times New Roman for its ease of reading as well as its professional impression.  It has the  advantage of being fairly compact, so that you can get more on a page.  A footless (“sans serif”) type supposedly makes things stand out, so some choose to put their name and contact information a font like Ariel or Microsoft Sans Serif. You can have a couple of them, but more than two usually looks a bit busy.

You don’t have to go with these two, since all modern word program offer dozens of usable options, and some good ones are very pleasing. Just stick to those that make your resume look like the business communication it is rather than a school project. If you want to view them all go to Format and fonts on your word processing program. A box will open. Highlight the first one and scroll through them to see samples .  If Times looks too vanilla, try another. Caution advised.) Test them out on your resume to see how they look. If Times New Roman is too vanilla, try another, but remember to keep it dignified.

One neat thing about different fonts is that they have different widths and spacing, so you can easily save space or fill it by trying different ones. Squarish fonts can appear very artistic, especially if used in a slightly lighter black.  You can experiment with  “light emphasis” on your page by taking a squarish font and toning down the black to a lighter color, if you are intent on being arty.

There are a lot of fonts beside  Jokerman and the medieval scripts which just don’t make a very good impression. If you have no sense for appearance, print your resume in several versions and ask someone else what looks best to them. One font in particular to avoid – and there are many you should – is courier, which emulates the old typewriter style. It looks tacky and cheap, as if you can’t afford a decent printer.

By the way, there’s an option in Word  which allows you to save styles. You can check it out using the help option on your computer. It comes in handy now and then.