Ugh. I caught up on mail, had a long conversation with Steve DeLassus (a longtime friend and tech reviewer for Optimizing Windows), and otherwise didn’t get much done last night.
Resumes 101. The one thing I did do last night was look at two different people’s resumes. I’m not sure when the last time was someone asked me for resume advice. But I do see a resume every once in a while as part of my job. Sometimes my boss will flip a resume my direction and ask what I think. The really scary thing is, spelling everything correctly and using proper punctuation impresses me. I don’t see that very often. I was taught that kind of thing was expected. I guess not anymore.
Fonts 101. I guess the other thing that comes to mind is that if you want to make a resume stand out, don’t run it in Arial or Times New Roman. If you’ve got a reasonably conservative-looking font that isn’t bundled with Windows, that’d be an excellent choice. Bookman and Garamond are classy and easy to read, and they’ve been used for centuries. Book Antiqua, which comes with MS Office, is a good-looking font whose origins I’m not familiar with. One of my former editors got me hooked on News Gothic as a substitute for Arial, but that’s not a terribly common font. Century Gothic and Futura are good-looking sans-serif fonts, and even though they were intended by their designers to be ultra-modern fonts, there are ancient Roman engravings that look very much like Futura.
The general rule is that a font with serifs, like Times, gives you a traditional look while a sans-serif font, like Arial, gives you a more modern look. The problem is that Times and Arial (or Helvetica–Arial is just a Helvetica knock-off), while excellent designs, are so commonly used that they’re cliche. You can make yourself stand out subtly by using a different font. And the older the font, the better. People have been designing fonts for centuries; what worked then will still work now.
Display fonts like Comic Sans (and most people’s computers have plenty of wild fonts that make Comic Sans look conservative) have no place in resumes. They’re best reserved for greeting cards or other informal projects.
Usage of cutting-edge fonts and display fonts is hard to teach. Either you’ve got an eye for their use or you don’t. A good teacher can help you develop your eye a bit, but since design wasn’t my specialty, I can’t really explain proper usage of them other than to say experiment. And read lots of British magazines because they’re generally bolder than most American magazines, surprisingly.
I once had a font called Bloody that was exactly what it sounds like. When I was editing a student paper at Mizzou, one week we were all feeling a bit feisty in the editorial office, so we did a cover story of a blood drive, ran a big magazine-style picture of someone giving blood on the cover, and, taking a swipe at our rival paper, we overlaid the text “If it bleeds, it leads,” in Bloody of course. The main designer and I had a running joke that I wouldn’t let her use that font. So when one of the other editors had the idea, I of course jumped at it and told her. And I also let her think it was my idea.
Needless to say, that cover didn’t end up going in any of our portfolios. But it was fun, and let us get a laugh at our rivals’ expense, which is always a good thing.