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.



Yellow



Yellow indicates energy, positivity and happiness. Even though this playful color has a positive meaning, it doesn't work well on resumes. It may come as unprofessional as it makes the text hard to read. Also, since it's a light color, it doesn't print well, so employers may lose some of your content if they decide to review printed job applications.



Pink



Pink is associated with love and romance. It symbolizes femininity, sensitivity, innocence and sweetness. Though a cheerful color, it's not appropriate for a resume as some employers may interpret pink resumes as unprofessional or not serious.



Neon



Fluorescent or neon colors are extremely bright versions of primary and secondary colors that appear to glow in the dark due to their intensity. Using these bright colors in a resume is a bold (and extremely rare) choice, but it's a huge risk as well as they can be off-putting or overwhelming to some hiring managers who may discard your job application. Since they are distracting and difficult to read, resume colors like neon are not recommended.



 

How to use colors on a resume?


There are many colors to choose from.


But it's not only the selection of colors that matters. It's their application too.


To make colors work on a resume, it's vital to use them in moderation.


Keep your resume colors simple and consistent, as not to distract the reader's eye or confuse them in any way. Also, make sure to choose resume colors that are appropriate for your industry.


For example, if you're applying for a job in finance, you want resume colors such as black and blue rather than pink and yellow.


In general, don't forget that color on a resume should be used wisely and sparingly. Using too much color will make your resume look unprofessional, regardless of what colors you choose to use.



 

Where to apply color in a resume?


To make the most of color application in a resume, it's important to use color in a smart way.


Colors on job applications work best when they are applied to certain graphic elements that draw attention.


There are a few options where you can apply color on your resume. Think about adding color to:

We applied all the above to one of our professionally designed resume templates.


Here are some examples:


Headers and Footers

You can use color in a header to add a modern and professional twist to a resume's design.



Contact Information

Color can highlight contact information at the top of your resume.



Design Elements

Use color to highlight small design elements, such as lines, icons, bullet points and shapes, to add a modern feel to your resume.



Headings

Accentuate the structure of your resume by applying color to its headings.



Subheadings (Job Titles, Qualifications, etc.)

Make it easy for a hiring manager to find the most relevant information by coloring subheadings, such as job titles and qualifications.



 

Practical Tips for Using Colors Effectively


Use black as a primary color.


In both conservative and creative industries, most resume content should be written in traditional black. Due to high contrast with a classic white background, black is the easiest color to read on resumes, whether on a computer or in print.

Therefore, black should be the primary color for a majority of the content, while another color of your choice can be an accent color used to emphasize some elements of the resume's design.


Avoid using too many colors.


You should also avoid using too many different colors, which may confuse readers instead of drawing their attention. Instead, stick with one color scheme that looks professional while still helping you stand out just enough.


Match your resume and cover letter.


For a professional job application that stands out, match your resume color scheme to your cover letter.


Cover letters are frequently one of the mandatory documents needed in the job application process. As such, they can be as important as resumes. So, pay attention to its design as well and ensure they both are polished and professional.


Tailor resume color scheme to the industry.


If you're applying to a creative industry such as fashion, design or social media where color is more important in the workplace, then use colors that are appropriate for your specific field. Feel free to get creative and add color to your resume to make it stand out from the rest.


For conservative industries, it's always best to opt for a traditional resume - going with your application in black and white with a pinch of blue or gray is a safe bet.


Use color consistently.


Consistency is the key for job applications that stand out in a professional way.


Make sure to use the same color throughout the document. Also, apply it to the same elements of content or design. For example, if you used blue to highlight the heading of the work experience section, make sure you use it on all headings and subheadings.


If in doubt, use a resume template.


Ready-made resume templates are designed by graphic or hiring professionals. Since they are designed in line with resume best practices, these rules about choosing the right color palette and using it in a resume are already applied. So, opting for professional resume templates is an easy way to upgrade your resume and present your experience in style.




Conclusion


A resume's color can make or break its success - it all depends on how you use colors to get the desired effect.


To make sure you're presenting yourself in the best light, choose wisely when selecting the colors for your professional documents. There are many factors that go into selecting the color for your resume, but by following these guidelines you should be able to choose the best one with ease.


To help with this process, we've put together a list of some of the best and worst resume color choices.

  • Best colors: Blue, Gray, Green, Purple

  • Worst colors: Red, Pink, Yellow, Neon


 

Take that one extra step to stand out...


  • Impress employers with a professionally designed resume

  • Download the template and fill it in with your experience

  • Save and submit your job-winning application today





 


Remember -- you only get one shot at impressing recruiters or hiring managers with your resume! If you want to speed up the process and land your dream job fast, we're here to help! Use our resume cheat sheet or jumpstart your job search with a professionally designed resume template and impress employers right from the start.