Best Practices of Using Color on Your Resume
Are you considering adding color to your resume? It is important to remember that color choices have consequences. Color affects perception and in the context of a resume color can really impact the first impression your resume makes.
Colors convey different emotions and they influence what we think and how we feel. As already mentioned, color can also direct our attention. On your resume, this means that the careful use of color can help draw attention to points you want to emphasize and also draw attention away from points you want to deemphasize.
Here are a few ways that you can effectively use color in your resume:
Create a standard black-and-white resume
If you’re at all unsure whether you want to use color on your resume or wonder if some employers might not be impressed by color, it is a simple process to create multiple versions of your resume with different color schemes, including a black-and-white version.
You can show these versions to trusted friends and family, to solicit their opinions on the colored versions vs the more traditional black-and-white version. And, if you are applying for a job at a company with a very conservative culture and you think the basic black-and-white version will be best, you’ll have it ready.
Choose a color scheme
Use a consistent color scheme to ensure that you’re using colors attractively and professionally. To do this, it is usually best to use no more than three colors – primary, secondary, and accent colors.
For example, you can use black as the primary color, blue as the secondary color, and green as your accent color. You can also create a very attractive resume using a monochromatic color scheme, for example two or three different shades of blue.
Microsoft Word makes it easy to create attractive color schemes by selecting from the pre-set color schemes. You will find these on the design tab, under colors.
Unless you are intentionally trying to draw the eye to a section of text (such as a heading), it is usually best to use only black or shades of gray for the text of your resume.
Don’t just pick any color
What colors will look best in your resume? The choices you make about color are important because color helps to reflect your personal brand and can even help tell your story. Don’t just choose any color and pray that the recruiter has a similar taste to yours. The colors you choose will evoke feelings and create an impression, and you should be thoughtful about exactly what image you want to convey.
For example, blue is generally accepted to convey brand attributes like trustworthiness, competence, and responsibility. Green conveys money, revitalization, and nature. Orange, creativity, productivity, and an adventurous spirit.
To pick the right colors for your resume, think about the context of the job you’re applying for, the expectations of your target industry and profession, the theme of the success stories you are telling in your resume, and the brand image you want to convey.
For example, imagine that you are an accountant or finance professional who is bold, confident, and ambitious and approaches every responsibility with a sense of urgency. These brand traits would tend to point to using the color red in the resume. But is red really the best choice for the accounting profession? A corporate finance executive? I’d say no. I would probably choose a green or a blue instead that convey the traits more valued in an accounting or finance professional.
Or, maybe you are known for bringing new energy and ideas and infusing your workplace with positivity. Or maybe you work the solar industry. Perhaps oranges and yellows would be good choices in either of those cases.
See the infographic at the end of this article for more about color psychology and some guidelines for choosing the best colors for your situation.
Should You Use Color When Creating Your Resume?
The simple answer is yes.
In fact, I’d argue that rather than focusing your attention on whether or not to use color, you focus on how you will incorporate it and which colors you will use.
As discussed above, there are some fundamentals that you should first understand to help you choose the right color for your job application.
If you are not confident designing your own resume and selecting colors that look good together, using a Distinctive Resume Template will be of great help. Even better, you aren’t stuck with the template color scheme. You can easily change the color scheme of almost all of our templates by just clicking a few buttons.