Should a resume have color?
Yes, in many cases a resume should have color. Adding color to your resume makes it stand out from the resumes of other job seekers and makes your application look more appealing.
But a colorful resume can sometimes come across as unprofessional, especially if it’s difficult to read.
Ultimately, whether you should include color on your resume depends on the type of job that you’re applying for.
In creative industries
If you’re seeking employment in a creative industry, using color on your resume is a good way to draw attention to certain sections of your resume or your design skills.
Additionally, you can use colors to mirror the branding of the company where you’re applying to show your enthusiasm and how you’re compatible with their goals and products.
If you’re not sure if you should include color on your resume, here are some careers where adding color is appropriate:
- Graphic designer
- Marketing professional
- Web developer
- Advertising professional
- Make-up artist
- Interior designer
- Industrial designer
- Exhibition designer
- Fashion designer
- Game artist
- Museum/gallery curator
- Film/theatre director
- Visual artist
- Media professional
In formal industries
If you’re applying for a job in a more traditional industry, avoid using bright colors on your resume. In more buttoned-up professions, having a colorful resume is considered distracting and unprofessional.
However, using darker colors like navy blue, burgundy, or dark green on a simple resume template is acceptable.
If you’re not sure if your job is considered formal, here are some industries where you should avoid using color on your resume:
Choosing the best colors to use on your resume
Stick to a color scheme
Sticking to a set color scheme is essential if you want to have color on your resume. A set color scheme keeps your resume looking consistent and helps guide hiring managers to the important parts of your resume.
This means choosing a primary color for your header, a secondary color for your subheadings (like the experience section of your resume), and optionally an accent color that you can use to highlight different sections of your resume.
If you really want to make your resume pop, you’ll need to use colors that complement each other well. You could, for instance, use dark green as your primary color, gray as your secondary color, and red as your accent color.
Here’s an example of a resume color scheme that uses complementary colors:
If you want your resume to appear less busy, stick to different shades of the same color. For example, using navy blue as your primary color, and a lighter shade of blue as your secondary color.
Here’s an example of a resume that uses a muted color scheme:
Your resume isn’t doing its job if a recruiter has to struggle to read it.
Whatever color scheme you choose, the most important thing is that it’s readable. Make sure that the colors you use are high contrast and dark (assuming that you’re using a light background), and that the body text on your resume is always in black or dark gray.
Match your resume to your cover letter
Another important tip is to make sure that your resume design matches the design of your cover letter.
Specifically, the colors that you use in your resume should always be the same as the ones in your cover letter header. This will make your application look as consistent and professional as possible.