"Summary. Resumes play an important role when applying for a job. Unfortunately, many applicants focus only on the content of the resume and not the physical appearance. The typeface chosen to display the resume not only influences the physical appearance, but also influences how an employer may view the applicant. In this study, resumes displayed in a high appropriate typeface (Corbel), resulted in the applicant being perceived as more knowledgeable, mature, experienced, professional, believable, and trustworthy than when displayed in a neutral typeface (Tempus Sans) or low appropriate typeface (Vivaldi). Moreover, the applicant was more likely to be called for an interview when their resume was displayed in a high appropriate typeface than a neutral or low appropriate typeface.
In our last issue of Usability News, we discussed the impact of typeface on user peceptions of website text. In this article, we examine typeface appropriateness for resume documents. A common mistake when creating a resume is to solely focus on the content and not the overall design and layout. It is suggested that a resume must be both eye-catching and easy to read (Fletcher, n.d.). In fact, it has been suggested that two of the biggest pitfalls in creating resumes are poor layout and physical appearance (Creating a Resume, 2008, May 12).
Typeface selection plays a major role in the perception of physical appearance of a document. It would seem prudent that typeface selection should be based on legibility. However, typeface selection for a resume goes beyond the factor of legibility for two reasons. First, the type can have visual elements that influence perception of the resume separate from the actual content (Brumberger, 2001; Kostelnick & Hassett, 2003; Mackiewicz, 2004). Second, the type can influence the ethos of the document (Kostelnick and Roberts, 1998). Ethos is defined by the author’s credibility and trustworthiness. Inappropriate typeface selection can cause a negative connotation with the ethos of the author. For these two reasons, it is important to carefully consider typeface selection for resumes.
Background of Typeface Appropriateness for a Resume
Shaikh (2007) conducted a study in which the typefaces most appropriate for resumes were determined by paired comparisons using Thurstone’s Law of comparative Judgment (Thurstone, 1927a, Thurstone, 1927b). The appropriateness of the typeface was evaluated by showing the same resume side-by-side displayed in a different type. The resume was displayed in a third-order approximation to English so that context effects were removed. The resume was displayed in its entirety, but had a portion of the text enlarged, or zoomed-in. Participants were to focus on the zoom-in portion of the text when making their judgments. This presentation style allowed for the typeface to be displayed at an appropriate size (10 to 11 pixels), while also maintaining the layout of the resume (below)." (Continued via SURL - Usability News from Usability Research Laboratory at Wichita State, Shaikh) [Usability Resources]