Yet another thing they didn’t teach you in acting school is that understanding the basic concepts of graphic design are a must to creating effective marketing materials. Since your resume, along with your picture, is one of the most important pieces of advertising you have, special attention must be given to all the elements that go into its design; the information you choose to share, its placement on the page, the possible use of pictures or color, and the typeface used to make it both eye-catching and readable. Right now, let’s look at this last element in the context of graphic design.
A Short History
Graphic design as both a concept and a profession is relatively new but the desire to create visual communication goes back to cavemen drawing on a wall, Egyptians carving hieroglyphics or monks illustrating manuscripts. Then, the focus was mainly on sharing information but around 200 years ago artists, printers and typesetters realized that the way letters, words and symbols were created and arranged could convey multiple messages and ideas. The way images interplayed with the text, even the shape of the letters themselves, could augment the simple information being given with an emotional response to the document as a whole. The art of the design came from the combination of all these elements.
Speaking in Tongues
Unfortunately, most actors are taught, when creating their resume, to use the same cookie-cutter layout, load on as much information as possible and use the default font on their computer (Times New Roman – size 12), resulting in a document that’s difficult to read, hard to glean information from and boring to look at; the perfect trifecta for winning a place in an agent’s circular file. But the resume is itself an advertisement with the potential to pull the viewer in and then, if well designed, to convey multiple ideas through the information therein. And it starts with the font you choose.
Why Fonts Matter
Here’s a short lesson on the different kinds of fonts.
- Serif – A font that uses a smaller line to finish off a main stroke of a letter, such as New Times Roman.
- Sans Serif – This typeface is one that does not have the small features called “serifs” at the end of strokes.
- Script – The letters or characters used in writing by hand, such as cursive writing.
On a resume, serif fonts are hard to read and script fonts are next to impossible! Having an easy to read font is crucial to helping the reader scan your resume. The only font you should use is a sans serif. Examples of this style are Helvetica, Tahoma, Century Gothic and Arial, but there are loads more to choose from for free at Dafont.com. Picking the one that best fits your image and the message you want to convey is important.
You’re thinking, “The style and shape of letters conveying a message about who and what I am? Is this for real?” Absolutely! Companies spend small fortunes hiring graphic designers to come up with a typeface and visual concepts that do just that. Designers use adjectives such as “aggressive”, “clean”, “sharp”, “welcoming”, etc., to describe the various typefaces they work with and when you begin to look at the myriad of choices out there, you’ll know what they mean.
Unity of Design
The final piece of information you should take away from this idea is that the font you choose for your resume should be used for all your marketing materials. From your letterhead and correspondence to the information you put on a flyer to the material on your website – It all needs to be visually linked by the use of that particular font. This subconsciously helps the viewer know that all these different advertising elements belong to one person – You!
Graphic design is the paradise of individuality, eccentricity, heresy, abnormality, hobbies and humors. – George Santayana