resume heat map

A Resume Heat Map Study Shows You Where to Use Bold Font on Your Resume

Resume font choices can be confusing. First, you have to decide on the best font for your resume.  Then you have to decide where to use normal and bold font. This post shares a resume heat map that shows you exactly what recruiters look for on your resume and you can use that information to decide where to use bold font.

The Resume Heat Map, Eye-Tracking Study

Because bold font draws your readers’ eyes, it’s helpful to use it to guide recruiters and hiring managers to the information that’s most important to them. It creates a visual hierarchy for your readers to follow.

Check out this research study, or the following resume heat map video (H/T Phyllis Mufson), to see how readers scan resumes.

The heat map comes from a study that tracked recruiters’ eye movements as they read resumes. It shows you what they focus on and what they ignore during their first looks. That’s useful information!

Where to Use Bold Font on Your Resume

Now that you know from the resume heat map and other research what your audience wants, be sure to use bold font on the following elements of your resume:

  1. Your name.
  2. Section headings.
  3. Job titles.
  4. Employment dates.
  5. Employer names.
  6. Employer locations.
  7. Your name on second-page headers.
  8. Your degrees.

If you want to see how easy this makes your resume to scan, check out these executive resumes.

Where NOT to Use Bold Font on Your Resume

I mention where not to use bold font on your resume because candidates often “go bold” inside the narrative descriptions of their jobs and accomplishments.

That’s a worst practice because it disrupts the visual hierarchy your readers want to use to navigate your resume. While you might think you’re drawing their eyes to the most important information on your resume, that’s your opinion.

The resume heat map showed us what recruiters read first. Smart job seekers give them what they’re looking for because they decide whether or not you get an interview.

Summary

Always think about what recruiters and hiring managers want. Then give them a good reader experience (RX)!

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Recruiters Don’t Want to See Creative Resumes

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I write executive resumes and LinkedIn profiles.
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Image: Fotolia/pressmaster
Updated February 2019

© 2015 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

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Comments 10

  1. So good.

    I’ve been reading through several resumes lately and this point alone can make a huge difference in which ones stood out and which ones failed.

    Great tips. I hope others start following.

    Thanks,

    Bryce

  2. Definitely agree…a little well-placed bolding can make a world of difference, and too much can make a disaster of an otherwise good resume

  3. You’re right, you just end up reading the bold if it’s in the CV body. However, you don’t seem to on the web. Is that becasue employers are looking for ways to exclude people not trying to find ways to include people?

  4. THIS was an awesome, concise exercise in Resume building. I do use some bold in my cover letters, very minimal but enough that the specific thing I want noticed, seems to get noticed.

    Thanks!
    Hope

  5. Good thoughts in general. People in the arts can be quite different. I teach a graphic design portfolio class at a local college that recently hosted a job fair. Many of my senior level students went to the fair. One student in particular said the company representative commended her on the well designed (not just typed) resume. It stood out. Again, good advice for submitting a resume online but in person or at a job fair, a sophisticated (meaning a stand out) resume will get you noticed where a generic, homogenous one will get lost in the shuffle. It’s difficult to follow the rules and think outside of the box at the same time.

  6. Design is its own vertical when it comes to job search matters — particularly the presentation of self. I appreciate the insights you contribute so much David.

    BTW, design is one of my dream careers in another life.

  7. I don’t know Richard. I’m always looking for people to include when I’m recruiting.

    Donna

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