Colorful, Eye-catching Resumes

Will a professionally designed, eye-catching resume get you noticed and win you a competitive edge in the job market?

As a professional resume writer with 25+ years of experience, my answer is YES.

This wasn’t always my answer. But, as they say, the only thing certain in life is change. Time marches on and resumes evolve. But it is now time for you to modernize your resume.

In 2011, I delivered a workshop presentation on resume design and how to create an eye-catching resume at a national conference for professional resume writers.

As we went through that first decade of the 21st century, the thought leaders in the resume writing community had started to abandon the boring text-only resume designs harkening back to when we used to create resumes on a typewriter.

At that workshop, I was demonstrating to a room full of other resume writers, how to use then-cutting-edge, modern resume techniques such as graphics and callout boxes in resumes. My advice at the time was still to use them sparingly and conservatively. And I specifically remember being asked at that workshop about using color on resumes. My answer was a resounding “NO! Maybe someday in the future, but not yet. We aren’t there yet”

Well, the future came rushing at us not long after that.

By 2013, I had started to experiment with more eye-catching, modern resume design that included color and more prominent design elements.

And the results of my experiments? Spectacular!

These more highly designed, eye-catching resumes were winning attention and getting my clients noticed in ways that just couldn’t be matched by the more conservative black-and-white resumes. Clients were having amazing results, landing interviews for the most coveted jobs, and receiving nothing but compliments from hiring managers and recruiters.

As Malcom Gladwell wrote about in his book “The Tipping Point,” the time for colorful, eye-catching resumes had reached the tipping point: “the moment of critical mass” when “ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses.”

Resume Evolution Timeline Is It Time To Modernize Your Resume Infographic
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Eye-Catching Resumes and The Importance of First Impressions

We’ve all heard the saying “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

Research tells us that we only have about 15 seconds of interacting with a stranger before they form an opinion of us and approximately 70% of that impression is based on appearance.

We’re all familiar with these common sayings:

Books are judged by their cover.

Homes are judged by their curb appeal.

Whether we like it or not, appearance counts, and attractive packaging helps sell.

Think about it: if you are selling a product, one of the best forms of advertising is the packaging that holds your product.

I believe that the same is true about the eye-appeal of a resume.

In many ways, you can think of a resume as the packaging that advertises you, and an eye-catching, modernized resume will always promote you more effectively.

An Eye-Catching Resume Will Always Promote You More Effectively

Information Overload in the Modern Age

Now, we must also keep in mind that virtually all of us living modern lives today are absolutely overloaded with information.

Infomation overload and the impact on resumes

We are being bombarded with information everywhere we turn! Emails. Texts. Tweets. Facebook. We are assaulted with facts and they come at us fast and quick.

And it is distracting, especially when you figure in our digital gadgets!

I was shocked to read that in 2015, the average office worker was spending 6.3 hours a day checking their email. We also check our cell phone every 10 minutes, adding up to 96 times each day!

All of this information is more than our brains can handle. It’s exhausting and it’s stressful.

Now add in the fact that humans’ attention spans are getting shorter. The average attention span is currently just 8 seconds or less according to a recent Microsoft study, and this is 30% less than similar research had found ten years prior.

Knowing this, with several hundred resumes coming in for a single job opening, it isn’t shocking that a study conducted by The Ladders found that on average, recruiters spend only 7.4 seconds reviewing each resume that comes across their desk

So, the question is, if we recognize these facts

  • humans are overloaded with more info than our brains can process,
  • digital technology is continually distracting us, and
  • at the same time our attention spans are getting shorter…

What does this mean for your resume?

What can you do to get noticed with your resume?

Well, I really believe that one very large part of the puzzle is that you must write your resume very succinctly, edit it rigorously, and make every word count.

But of at least equal importance, I’ve grown to believe, is the visual presentation of your resume content. In other words, a modernized resume with eye-catching design.

Our Brains Are Wired For Visual Information

Why is this? Well, the simple fact is that humans are visually wired.

Eye-Catching Resumes Get Results Consider that almost 50% of our brain is devoted to processing visual information.

Graphics and other visuals help us with information overload.

Not only do our brains register graphics far faster than text, as much as 36,000 visual messages per hour, a rate which is 60,000X faster than text.

But graphics are also more memorable. Research has shown that visuals improve our ability to learn 400% and while we remember on average only 20% of what we read and 10% of what we hear, we remember 80% of what we see.

So, what is the impact of all of this?

As you might expect, using visuals in your presentation – especially visual elements that include color – have an incredibly positive impact when you are trying to convey a message.

For example, web pages with visuals get 94% more page visits and engagement than those that don’t.

Content and social media posts that include visuals are 40X more likely to be shared and articles that include graphics after every 75-100 words are twice as likely to be shared than those with fewer graphics.

The Stunning Impact of Color on Attention

Using COLOR in your visuals has an equally dramatic impact.

Color visuals increase our willingness to read by 80% and has been shown to increase comprehension up to 73%.

Color increases readers’ attention spans 82%. And people also appear to have a strong bias for color as they are 55% more likely to pick up a full-color direct mail piece first.

Consider what that might mean if you have used color in your resume.

Imagine your resume lying on a table along with other resumes, all text-based and black and white, which do you think a recruiter will pick up first?

Finally, a stat that I found especially interesting: using color to highlight info on a page improves the ability of the reader to pick out important info 39% faster than just using different font styles like bolding or italics. People were also 35% more likely to finish reading an article that used color rather than just black text.

How important might these facts be when we know that the average recruiter spends only 7.4 seconds reviewing each resume?

Color makes a big difference

The Bottom Line: Eye-Catching Resumes Are Here to Stay

The research is clear…in a world in which we are busier and more distracted than ever, with information coming at us from all directions…

Including color and infographic elements to create an eye-catching resume will help you get the attention of hiring managers, will help you convey key information quickly, and ultimately, will help you to create a more positive first impression.

It is time to modernize your resume and transform it into an eye-catching, results-getting personal marketing document.

But, you aren’t a graphic designer and you have no clue how to redesign your resume. More importantly, you aren’t sure what is acceptable, what isn’t acceptable, or how to make sure your finished resume is ATS friendly too.

The solution is Distinctive Resume Templates.

Distinctive Resume Templates provide an easy way to recreate and transform a resume even if you have zero design experience. Check them out!

Colorful, Eye-catching Resumes Infographic
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About the Author: Michelle Dumas

Michelle Dumas is the founder and CEO of Distinctive Career Services, one of the internet's longest-standing and most respected professional resume writing firms. Michelle is a 6X certified and 7X award-winning resume writer and career consultant. Michelle designed and created all of the templates in the Distinctive Resume Templates Collections found at

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