What Are The Best Colors for a Resume?

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August 8, 2022
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min read

You’ve narrowed down your job search, created a list of roles that fit your goals, and you’re primed and ready at your desk to spend the day applying. It’s time to create a professional and appealing resume to land you the job, but you have no idea how to make it stand out from the digital crowd. 

Getting overwhelmed by your resume is way more common than you’d imagine. Luckily, there are a few secrets to help you craft a resume that you — and your potential employers — will love. 

Does Your Resume's Appearance Actually Matter? 

When it comes to resumes, yes, looks do matter. It’s like curb appeal for the professional world! Picture those house-flipping shows on HGTV. There’s always someone sweeping through the fully renovated home at the end, fluffing pillows, hanging artwork and even throwing cookies in the oven to make the house feel inviting. 

You’ve done the bulk of the work for your resume: curating your experience, organizing everything, and tailoring it to the role you’re applying for. Now color and design offer you a chance to finalize the look and give a stellar first impression, like those HGTV house stagers sealing the deal and landing the perfect buyer. 

Taking the time to learn about resume design sets you up to stand out. And strategic splashes of color on your resume do more than just make it look pretty. 

We remember colorful things more easily than we do black and white ones; we prefer vibrant images to dull ones; and perhaps the most important for creating a resume, we snap our attention to spots on the page (or screen) where color stands out. 

According to Scott Jones’ Guide to Using Color Effectively in Business Communication, color:

  • Highlights important information and emphasizes key points
  • Creates a strong mood for your work
  • Increases readability
  • Helps your reader skim (essential for resumes!)
  • Leaves an impression and becomes more memorable

Color does all of this when you know how to use it correctly. The wrong colors, clashing colors, or even too much color are more harmful than not using color at all. 

What Colors To Use And Which To Avoid

What’s the best color for a resume? How do you choose the right colors to feature on your resume? There isn't ONE right or wrong color.

It’s kind of like curating your closet. Some of us stick to neutrals, some of us feel our best in pastels and others enjoy adding a pop of bold red to every outfit. 

Although there isn’t a strict guidebook for using color on your resume, keep three key elements in mind when adding color: 

  • The impression you aim to create
  • What ‘vibe’ your niche and role entail
  • How you’ll assign meaning through color

1. Creating An Impression With Color

Color almost always creates a certain impression. We tend to associate different characteristics and moods with different colors. 

Let’s test it! Take a second and read each of these words, pausing to see which color comes to mind: nature, summer, danger. 

Whether your colors ended up being green, yellow, and red respectively like ours were, most likely you had a color in mind for each. And that’s a huge part of why color adds so much value to a resume! You have an opportunity to create an overall impression for the hiring manager reviewing your resume. 

Red is a bolder color that demands attention, while purple conveys luxury and power. Lots of people associate pink and yellow with more ‘fun’ roles, while blue often signifies professionalism. 

2. Reflecting Your Niche and Role

Speaking of cultivating a particular mood or ‘vibe’ through color on your resume, make sure you choose colors that align with your niche, profession, and role. 

Someone applying for a role in a more traditional field like law may want to stick to neutral colors or small splashes of just one color, like navy blue. But if you’re striving for a more creative role, like graphic design or writing, you can be more creative and choose fun colors to represent your personality and style. 

Of course, there’s no set rule for who can and can’t add color to a resume. Your resume is yours, which means that if a certain color or set of colors feels right, you should go for it. 

Our best tip? Stay organized during your job search by thoroughly researching the company you’re applying to. Teal’s Job Application Tracker tool makes this easier — you can install a convenient plugin and keep track of all your applications and potential roles all in one spot. If a company seems super fun, getting creative can’t hurt (and you can always add similar colors to their brand to immediately seem familiar). 

3. Assigning Meaning Through Color

Color influences so much more than the aesthetics of your resume. It’s also an opportunity for you to create a hierarchy, to organize information, and to create an easy-to-follow system within your resume. 

Creating a hierarchy with color often involves highlights. You can use one color for each level of information, like your previous role title and the length of time you spent in that role. Or, use a color ‘gradient’ to guide the eye down the page toward the most important information in each section. 

Organization is essential in a resume, and color helps you keep your information as organized as possible. Remember: once you choose a color and systematize it (assign it to a certain type of information or section), stick with it. Consistency is key!

You Can't Go Wrong With Standard Black and White

It’s all too easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious when you’re ready to apply for a job — especially when you start overthinking details like the best color for resumes. But this should be an exciting time! Take one stressor off your plate by sticking with a clean, simple resume template.

You can take some of that stress off your shoulders by using Teal's AI Resume Builder which comes with several professional templates. These templates were designed with applicant tracking systems in mind, so readability won't be an issue.

Watch This Video on Resume Designs to Avoid

@teal_hq When it comes to your resume, there’s no need to mess with the standard format. Fancy graphic designs may look nice, but sometimes they can prevent the ATS from processing your resume properly. Instead of stressing the design of your resume, it’s better to focus on optimizing the key words in your achievements and tailoring them to the role you’re applying for. Follow for more job search tips. #jobsearch #careertok #resume #resumetips ♬ Stick to what you know - Ogmaro

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I incorporate color into my resume without it being overwhelming?

To incorporate color into your resume effectively, use it sparingly and strategically. Stick to one or two accent colors for headings or key sections to guide the reader's eye, ensuring the overall design remains professional and easy to read. Neutral tones with a pop of color for emphasis is a balanced approach.

Are there specific colors that are more effective for certain industries when designing a resume?

Yes, different industries may respond better to different color schemes. For example, creative fields may appreciate more vibrant colors, while corporate sectors might prefer subdued, conservative hues like navy blue or dark green. Research industry standards and company culture to choose appropriate colors.

Is it acceptable to use color on a resume when applying for a job internationally?

When applying for jobs internationally, it's important to consider cultural differences in color perception and resume standards. In some countries, a traditional, black-and-white resume is expected, while in others, subtle color use can be acceptable. Always tailor your resume to the cultural norms of the country you're applying to.

Kaitlin Marks

Kaitlin Marks is a freelance writer and content strategist. She's passionate about empowering women to feel their best. When she’s not working on her laptop, you can find her snuggling her little rescue puppy, Peanut, or reading a good book at the beach.

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