Monday, May 04, 2015

The best and worst fonts to use on your Résumé

The best and worst fonts to use on your résumé

Using Times New Roman is the typeface equivalent of wearing sweatpants to an interview

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A résumé, that piece of paper designed to reflect your best self, is one of the places where people still tend to use typeface to express themselves. It does not always go well, according to people who spend a lot of time looking at fonts. Bloomberg asked three typography wonks which typefaces make a curriculum vitae look classiest, which should never, ever been seen by an employer, and whether emojis are fair game.
We went digging for a complete set of professionally fly fonts and returned with just one consensus winner: Helvetica.
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“Helvetica is so no-fuss, it doesn’t really lean in one direction or another. It feels  professional, lighthearted, honest,” says Brian Hoff, creative director of Brian Hoff Design. “Helvetica is safe. Maybe that’s why it’s more business-y.”
There are other options that, like Helvetica, are sans-serif, meaning their letters do not have the tiny "feet" that adorn the "T" in Times New Roman, for example. Do not choose a cheap imitator, the experts counsel. “If it's me, [I’m using] Helvetica. Helvetica is beautiful,” says Matt Luckhurst, the creative director at Collins, a brand consultancy, in San Francisco. “There is only one Helvetica.”
Unless you're applying for a design job, human resource professionals probably wouldn't notice a knockoff font. But you would be on the wrong side of good taste. Could you live with that?
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Say you're a high roller and want to actually purchase a font. Go with Proxima Nova, which Hoff calls a “cousin to Helvetica” with less of an edge.
“It has a softer feel. Helvetica can be more stiff, and  Proxima Nova feels a little rounder,” Hoff says. Proxima Nova is apparently a hit among suits. “I never met a client that didn’t like that typeface,” he says. That kind of popularity does not come cheap: Just one style of the font costs $29.99 at myfonts.com, and the entire 144-member family costs $734.
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If you are very experienced, use Garamond to get your long rap sheet to fit into a single page. “Garamond is legible and easy for the eye to follow,” says Luckhurst.  “Garamond has all these quirks in it, so what that does is allow the eye to see where it should go.”
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There’s some controversy over the classic Times New Roman. “I don’t have any problem with Times New Roman,” says Martina Flor, a letterer and designer in Berlin, Germany. She acknowledges that it has the reputation of being staid, but says the font is not to blame. “It has been a system font for a long time. It’s been used and misused a lot.”
Using old faithful might send the wrong sign to your future boss, though. “It’s telegraphing that you didn’t put any thought into the typeface that you selected,” says Hoff. “It’s like putting on sweatpants.”
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If you want something intentionally upscale, try Didot. “It’s very tall, it’s a little fancy, [and] it’s a little feminine,” says Luckhurst. It’s a good option for a fashion job, but not much else, he adds. “It’s like wearing the black dress to the ball. Do you wear a tuxedo to your job interview?”
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It may go without saying, but do not use the flowery Zapfino type on anything you will show an employer. “Its just really swoosh-y. If it’s your wedding invite and that typeface is for you, go for it,” says Luckhurst. 
Do not even use anything that looks like Zapfino, says Flor. “All the fonts belonging to this family of connected scripts wouldn’t be right for your résumé,” she says. They are hard to read, she says, and not designed to express anything longer than a headline.
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“You don’t have a typewriter, so don’t try to pretend that you have a typewriter,” Luckhurst says. “You have been using a computer to do a handwritten thing. You haven’t used a computer properly, and you haven’t handwritten properly.” Damn. Don’t use Courier, I guess.
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We probably do not even need to discuss this, but you should never use Comic Sans unless you are designing the investment issue of a national business magazine. Do not even look at Comic Sans. It should not be on your résumé “unless you are applying to clown college,” says Hoff. “There are other whimsical fonts out there that you can buy that would give a similar impression and feel, but not necessarily be a Comic Sans.” Hoff is being gentle, but take it from me: Don’t look for a Comic Sans-like font. Just let it go.
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Should you put emoji in your résumé? Prayer hands, a cat with hearts for eyes, followed by a dress shirt with a gold tie? “I think it’s a great idea. Put a lot of emojis on the bottom. Some chicken wings. They will love it,” says Luckhurst. “Maybe an emoji is your logo. Maybe you just really key in on the 100 logo, that’s your thing, you put it everywhere.”

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

4 Things Steve Jobs taught me as an entrepreneur

1. Hiring is chess, not checkers.

When I led my first interview for NeXT, I was blown away by the amount of detail and procedure involved. It was creatively surgical. They knew exactly what they were looking for, but had extremely imaginative ways of making a candidate's true skill level and ideology become crystal clear. It was a well-oiled machine for selecting the best of the best, for one of the top companies in the Valley.

As I started putting together my first company, Hipbone, it became apparent why Jobs poured so much time and energy into hiring. Of course you want skilled workers developing your product, but it’s much more complex than that. As the saying goes: a rising tide lifts all boats. When you have great talent, it inspires others to produce great work as well. On the flip side, poor talent can repel the top tier talent you want and need.

Take your time when hiring. Gauge candidates’ skills by giving them problems to solve. Get a feel for who they are, how they live their life and, most importantly, what they want out of life. Remember: a lot of people are rockstar interviewers, but sub-par employees.

2. Strive for simplicity.

The first demo I had to present to Steve taught me more about developing products in five minutes that most learn in five years. He didn’t ask questions, no pre-brief, no manual… nothing. He just went up to our work station and began using the product. If it wasn’t simple and intuitive enough for Steve to figure it out without asking any questions, it usually was rejected.

Think about any Apple product ever made: you open the box, turn it on and get right to work. Every detail of these products was pre-meditated, organized and designed to be as simple as possible.

This concept is two-fold: simple products are obviously easier to use, and increase the chances of having repeat users. But if you have a simple product, people gain the ability to easily become experts. Allow users to quickly discover the value of your product, and let them become experts with ease, because your products’ experts are usually your biggest fans. You have to work hard to get your ideas clean and simple. But once you get there, you can move mountains.

3. Be a solution that adds massive value.

Apple was one of the first companies to offer people a comprehensive solution, not just a product. You weren’t getting a motherboard from one company, a processor from another and a video card, monitor and hard drive from random manufacturers. At Apple, all these parts came from the same place. It was a solution, not just a product, and that’s something that has become one of the cornerstones of my company, Vendini. We’re able to add much more value by offering a complete solution, rather than a single product.

The piecemeal approach is tapering off. People are opting for products and services that offer a complete solution, with multiple products that work together to maximize the effectiveness as a whole.

4. Let your employees play in the sandbox.

Not everything I learned from Jobs was based on things I agreed with. A big part of my company now is based on something I did not agree with.

Jobs was a fiercely loyal person, and demanded that his employees share that loyalty. But it led to a culture where employees were afraid to express interests outside of NeXT if they had anything at all to do with competitors. But as engineers, we’re constantly trying to learn new things and challenge ourselves to create new things. A friend of mine was nearly fired for helping a fellow developer on a project who worked for a competitor (on his off time, just for fun). I once won a contest, the Java Cup, and I was terrified that Jobs would find out and fire me on the spot, as I’d seen happen to others before me.

That’s not how it should be. If you’re hiring the right people, they’re going to be curious. That’s a good thing. If one of our developers is interested in learning a new programming language, I’ll pay for classes. We wound up implementing some hardware ideas that an employee dreamed up at TechShop. Let your employees get out there and play in the sandbox; often times inspiration strikes from throwing variety into the mix.

Starting up is hard, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. But sometimes you just have to slow things down, be selective and make it simple. After all, that’s what Jobs did.