Bloomberg just published a story called “The Best and Worst Fonts to Use on Your Resume,” and in the story, they suggest that “using Times New Roman is the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview.” I agree that Times New Roman is a poor choice for a resume typeface, but “sweatpants”? Sweatpants implies sloppiness, and Times is not sloppy – it’s boring. The only time I use Times is when I’m writing academic papers, because professors will balk at anything else. But I wouldn’t generally use Times for anything else – mostly because it doesn’t feel modern. It feels old. That goes for pretty much any serif (spoiler alert: I’m a sans-serif junkie). Serifs just have the smell of an old book that hasn’t been pulled from the library shelf for a couple years. That isn’t to say they’re not useful – they definitely have a time and place – but sans serifs have the smell of a new Tesla, not an old book.
Interestingly, the Bloomberg article also suggests that Helvetica is a good neutral typeface for resumes. I have a love-hate relationship with Helvetica. Yes, I agree that it’s a safe choice for pretty much any kind of document, print or web. But it’s also so ubiquitous. It was created out of a movement towards minimalism and it looks great – but I never go a day without catching it on a poster or sign. Maybe we need a new Helvetica (and no, not Helvetica Neue). In the meantime, Helvetica will suffice.