I’ve been a proponent for a long time of writing some of the text on job-search documents (resume and LinkedIn profile) in bold. I stress some of your text, not all of it. Because to bold all the text would diminish the impact of your sentences. It would be like having too much frosting on a cake.
I’m not alone in my preference for bold text. A poll I recently conducted says that 63% of voters favor using bold text on their resume. This poll garnered 4,564 votes, so we could say this is a valid case study. Some of the comments are listed below.
To be clear, I’m not talking about just the documents headings or your titles. I’m talking about select text to which you want to draw the reader’s attention. Text you want their eyes to settle on like:
𝗦𝗮𝘃𝗲𝗱 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗮𝗻𝘆 $𝟭𝟬𝟬,𝟬𝟬𝟬 over the course of 2 years by bringing social media campaign in house; revamped the campaign while 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝗮𝗴𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗮 𝘁𝗲𝗮𝗺 𝗼𝗻 𝗮 𝗹𝗶𝗺𝗶𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝗯𝘂𝗱𝗴𝗲𝘁.
This is important for one obvious reason. It’s said that hiring authorities take six to 10 seconds to glance at your resume after it has been stored and accessed from the applicant tracking system.
This will help hiring authorities to capture important text on your resume within the six to 10 seconds and decide whether it goes in the “must read pile” or the “don’t read pile.”
When it comes to your LinkedIn profile, bold text also draws readers’ attention to important points you want to make. I use bold text in my Headline and About section.
Example: 👊 I’m on the front-line fighting 𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗚𝗼𝗼𝗱 𝗙𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 for job seekers. For a little emphasis, I use the fist emoji; something you wouldn’t do on your resume. If you’re wondering how to employ bold text on your LinkedIn profile, here’s a site I use: https://lingojam.com/BoldTextGenerator.
The naysayers to bold text on their resume and LinkedIn profile think it’s nontraditional, just like using sans-serif font in nontraditional. Here’s some news for those people; if you’re using Times New Roman, you’re dating yourself. Perhaps there will be a time when not using bold text will be nontraditional.
Let’s read what others feel about using bold text.
Kevin D. Turner: If 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱 is used, IMO it must be sparingly, perhaps to highlight a few of the really big achievements, Bob, otherwise it can get a bit messy and if almost everything is 𝗯𝗼𝗹𝗱, there is then no emphasis.
Tejal Wagadia (She/Her): I don’t particularly like bolding. It takes my eyes away from what I am looking for. If I have downloaded resume that has bolding I will remove that formatting.
I have seen it done well a few times but most of the times it’s random bolding with no rhyme or reason!
Bernadette Pawlik: If a client who comes to me as a #CareerSTrategist wants to know how to use bolding, my advice is based upon 25 years of evaluating resumes as a career recruiter. Having evaluated thousands of resumes, what makes it resume instantly easier to consider first is being able to find what I needed: Name, Experience, Education. Bold those in all caps.
Then, after that I look for chronology, so employers, bold those but not in all caps. Then, I read the rest. I see resumes that are bolded in mid-sentence to accentuate an accomplishment.
Accomplishments should go in bullet points. Donna Svei, Executive Resume Writer who also has extensive recruiting experience has some great samples of resumes on her website which show how to use bolding, color, and italics…and I’ve spoken to Donna and we have no affiliate relationship..but her resumes make finding what recruiters/employers need to find wonderfully clear.
Erica Reckamp: Strategic bold, bullets, and shading allow key elements to pop off the page for stronger reader response and retention.
Stand out as a top candidate by highlighting your headline (demonstrate clear target and alignment), keyword bank and job titles (establish candidacy), and key phrases in accomplishments (preferably results: # s, $s, %s).
LAURA SMITH-PROULX: Bold text in a resume works very well, but only IF you limit it to notable career stories and IF you avoid drawing attention to items you’d rather not emphasize.
I see resumes all the time that apply bold text to “unfortunate” facts in a work history, such as dates that make you look like a job hopper. Go ahead and apply bold, but think carefully about the message you’re sending when doing so.
Sarah Johnston: The goal of the resume is to make it easy for the end user to consume your story. Design elements such as bolding, shading, and call out boxes (used sparingly) make the resume easier to read. Resume writers are also trained to use design to “trick the eyes” to read what we want the target audience to read.
Ed Han (He/Him): Absolutely yes on my own and I counsel the same to draw emphasis to proper nouns, names, brands, technologies (in IT), or anything else salient.
I also use them to call out hyperlinks, which I use incessantly for schools, former employers, trade associations, certifying bodies, etc.
The vast majority of resume reading takes place on a screen: optimize for this reality.
Adrienne Tom: Bolded text can help key content pop off the page. The important thing to remember is to only highlight top/best/relevant information and details. Be strategic with what you bold in a resume. Too much bolded text will cause key points to blend together again.
Angela Watts: As a screener, I’m drawn to read bolded text, even when doing an initial skim. If used well, it can encourage a reader to digest compelling content they may otherwise have missed.
Donna Svei: Bold narrative text jerks the reader’s attention around the resume in a graceless fashion, says “this is the only information in this document that matters,” and begs the reader to look at it. Thus, it signals desperation and lack of confidence in your story and story telling ability.
Story telling is a key leadership skill. If you want a leadership role, don’t use this awkward device on your resume.