How to Use Color on a Resume: Best and Worst Resume Colors

Updated: Dec 1, 2021



In a job search, first impressions are everything.


When applying for a job, if you want to make a lasting impression, it's important that your resume stands out and catches the eyes of potential employers before they even read through your qualifications.


In doing so, there are certain design tools that you can use to help give your resume a little more personality and flair. One of these tools is color, which can make your resume pop and do the heavy lifting while conveying specific messages about you as an applicant.


When applying for a job, if you want to make a lasting impression, it's important that your resume stands out and catches the eyes of potential employers before they even read through your qualifications.

However, when it comes to resume colors, there are some colors that will help you create a good impression and others that won't.


In this blog post, we'll answer the most important questions about using colors on a resume, including the best resume colors and the worst resume colors. We'll also provide tips on using color on your resume to get noticed by recruiters!


So, in the next few minutes, we’ll answer the following questions:

Alright, let's get into it!



 


Can you use colors on a resume?


When working on your resume, your aim is to create a resume that stands out.


Since the first thing employers notice is the visual aspect of your resume, it's important to create a polished resume design that draws attention at first glance. While you don't want your resume to look like everyone else's, you still want to give a positive and professional first impression.


This is where colors may help.


The color scheme you choose can influence your resume design and make it stand out or blend in.


Using colors on a resume is a simple yet effective way to make your resume more attractive to draw a hiring manager’s attention. Color can also help accentuate a resume's structure and emphasize the most important parts of your resume, making it easier to read.

So, to answer the opening question - yes! You can absolutely use color on your resume.


But be careful when choosing the color. Selecting the right color and using it appropriately on a resume isn't as easy as it may seem.


Read on to learn how to choose the best resume color, and find out which colors work well and which should be avoided.



 

Why is a color on a resume important?


Color is the first thing readers see when they open your resume!


Colors bear a strong psychological meaning and can affect our thoughts and feelings on an unconscious level.


For example, red is typically associated with passion, danger or anger and can make us feel uneasy, whereas pink brings to mind thoughts of happiness and innocence; blue can be calming and yellow can energize.


As such, colors on your resume send a message about you and your personal brand before the readers have even read the first word on it.


While resume color schemes can make a resume visually interesting, color can make or break its success. It all depends on how you use colors to get the desired effect.

It's crucial to choose resume colors that convey the right tone of voice for your resume and reflect well on you as a job seeker.


So, you need to be careful when choosing the color to ensure it sends the right message - that you are a professional, skilled and qualified applicant. Otherwise, you might end up with a resume that is not as effective in presenting your qualifications or that hinders your job hunting efforts.




 

What to consider when choosing colors for a resume?


When choosing colors for a resume, you need to consider the following:

  • What message do you want to send about yourself? Do you want to come across as conservative and professional or creative and bold?

  • What color preferences are specific for the job or industry you're aiming at?

Basically, both questions boil down to your field and expertise, or better yet, the industry you're applying for. It's the single most important factor that needs to be considered when playing with a color palette.


To simplify the decision, industries can be divided into two categories: conservative and creative industries. Both come with a set of opposite best practices for the hiring process.


Conservative industries


Some sectors and industries prefer traditional resumes - classic black text with white background. Examples of such fields are conservative industries as law, finance, and banking.


Since they are more conservative in their hiring process, creative use of color on these resumes doesn't meet the common industry standards.


However, if you select a professional color such as navy blue or gray and use it modestly, it can help break up the resume, make it easier to read and help you grab the employer's attention in a professional way.


Creative industries


On the other hand, some sectors and creative industries prefer resumes with a more innovative or modern resume design.


Examples of such creative fields are media, marketing, advertising, public relations and graphic design.


These types of firms often want candidates who can think outside of the box and showcase it right from the start through their job application.


So, hiring managers in creative industries have a more open mind for colorful resumes and less prejudice against bolder colors. Strategic, even bold use of color can give you a competitive advantage.

However, don't forget that ultimately your resume is a formal document that needs to communicate content effectively and remain professional.



 


Best colors to use on a resume


Choosing the best resume colors to create eye-catching resume design is a challenging task that can have either a beneficial or detrimental impact on your job search.


Simply put, if you choose the wrong color for your resume, it can potentially ruin an otherwise perfect resume -- and slow down your job search process.


So, we've created a list of colors that are more likely to catch the reader's attention and the worst colors that should be avoided.


Blue



When it comes to resume colors, blue is a safe and elegant color used to communicate honesty, reliability, confidence and stability. As such, it's a great choice for both conservative and creative resumes.


Depending on the shade, blue frequently adds a modern feel to resume design without being boring or bland.


Even though it's the most frequently used color on resumes, considering the range of shades of blue that can be used, opting for blue still allows you to create a unique and professional resume that comes across polished and put together.


Gray



Gray is a neutral and balanced color typically associated with meanings of sophisticated, formal and conservative. This timeless and practical color can add some dynamic to design, helping your resume stand out while remaining fully professional.



Green



Green is a color often associated with harmony, nature and growth. When used in resume design, it can help emphasize personal qualities of balance, creativity and intelligence. To ensure that you're using green on your resume in the right way, choose shades on the darker end of the spectrum, rather than going with light colors or too bright shades of green. Dark green works best.



Purple



Purple is a sophisticated yet playful color that adds an air of elegance to resume designs without being too conservative or rigid. This vibrant tone helps highlight the most important parts while still fitting the professional environment. Same as with green, it's best to go with darker shades of purple to keep it professional.



 


Colors to avoid on a resume


Red



Red is a bold color. It's often associated with power, passion and confidence, so it can be a good color for job seekers who want their resume to stand out among the crowd while still conveying a strong personal brand. However, red also symbolizes action and aggression. Practically, all resumes we have seen with a red color scheme came across as too aggressive. So, we don't recommend using red in a resume.