Appearance, or Making a Good First Impression

by | March 10, 2009

  • My Vault

Vault conducted a survey of 211career center professionals, from both undergraduate schools and business schools in 35states. The career professionals were asked questions ranging from when candidates shouldsend a thank you note after interviews, to how effective it is to include standardizedtest scores on resumes. Among the survey's findings: 56 percent believe that 12 pointis the best font size for cover letters and resume, and 62 percent believe white is thebest color paper for them (35 percent think ecru-white/beige is best).

Here are some tips on making a professional impression with your resume.

Don't get creative. Really. What you want in a font is not a decorative designchoice, but a simple, easily read font that shows you mean business. In other words, whenlooking for a font, think gray suit.

Unacceptable Fonts
  • Courier font: if you didn't have to write your cover letter on a 1930's travel typewriter, why make it look like you did? This font looks like the default font of a malfunctioning computer and is also notorious as the typeface that mediocre high school students use because of its massive, page-filling size. Do you really want such a dishonest font representing your words?
  • Say no to anything that looks remotely like handwriting or hints at it, like italicized versions of regular fonts. This is a business document, not a thank you note to a neighbor. And these fonts are difficult to read.
  • Avoid any font that looks like it would be more appropriate on a mediaeval manuscript or the label of a malt liquor bottle. No Ye Olde Fonts. No historical-period fonts at all, for that matter. No art-deco twenties, no early-eighties computer geekdom.

Whatever you choose, remember this: what impresses readers the most should not be theletters on the page but the words they spell.


A stroll through most business supply stores will reveal a sea of paper choices, fromtraditional plain white to hot pink and purple. Outlandishly colored resumes are to beused by people whose jobs demand more dramatic visual statements: hairdressers, fashiondesigners, and clowns. The rest of us need to focus on the understated dignity of whites,light grays, and ecru. Says one career center professional: "White seems to have themost professional feel." Says another: "I like Ecru-White - it has arichness that adds a classy touch to resumes and cover letters." A helpful wordadvice: "No pastels - ever."

Finally, make sure to use the same paper that you use for your cover letter.

Filed Under: Interviewing

Get tips on interviewing, networking, resumes, and more directly to your inbox.

No Thanks