Should resumes have color?

The Colorful Debate: Should Your Resume Have Color?

In the world of job hunting, your resume is the ticket to the interview, the golden bridge between you and the job of your dreams. It serves as a representation of your professional history, skills, and competencies, and just like you, it needs to stand out from the crowd. In the quest for differentiation, an intriguing question arises: Should your resume have color?

To answer this, we must delve into the psychology of color, the preferences of hiring managers, and the nature of the job you’re applying for. There are no definitive right or wrong answers, only shades of gray – or should that be shades of blue, or perhaps red?

The Psychology of Color

Color can have a profound impact on our emotions and perceptions. Studies have shown that certain colors can evoke specific feelings and reactions. For instance, blue is often associated with trust and stability, while red can stimulate feelings of passion and intensity.

Adding color to your resume can subliminally communicate these traits to hiring managers. A dash of blue could suggest reliability, while a hint of red could show passion. However, the application of color needs to be strategic and subtle to avoid overwhelming the reader.

The Hiring Managers’ Perspective

While some hiring managers appreciate a pop of color, others lean towards traditional black-and-white resumes. A survey by ResumeLab found that 1 in 4 recruiters preferred a bit of color on resumes, while the majority remained neutral.

However, the study also pointed out that resumes with color, specifically those with strategic color use, had a higher rate of being remembered by recruiters. This suggests that while color isn’t universally preferred, it can help your resume stand out in a sea of black and white.

The Job You’re Applying For

A critical factor in the decision to use color in your resume is the job you’re applying for. If you’re seeking a creative role, such as graphic design or advertising, a colorful resume can showcase your design skills and creativity.

On the other hand, if you’re applying for a more traditional role, such as law or finance, it might be best to stick to a black-and-white resume. In these industries, professionalism, and conservatism often take precedence over creativity.

The Right Use of Color

If you choose to incorporate color into your resume, the key lies in moderation and strategic placement. Stick to one or two colors, preferably those associated with the traits you want to highlight. Use color sparingly to draw attention to key areas of your resume, such as your name, section headers, or specific achievements.

The choice of color also matters. A 2018 study by Pantone revealed that blue is the best color for resumes, as it’s associated with trust and reliability. Meanwhile, colors like orange were least favored, potentially because they’re seen as overly casual or unprofessional.


The decision to use color in your resume ultimately boils down to your personal preference, the job you're applying for, and your understanding of color psychology.

Color can help your resume stand out and create a memorable impression, but it can also backfire if used excessively or inappropriately. If you choose to use color, use it sparingly, and purposefully, and choose colors that align with the traits you wish to convey.

In the end, remember that while color can enhance your resume, it is the content that truly counts. The most vibrant color palette can't mask a lack of skills or experience. Therefore, prioritize showcasing your qualifications and achievements before deciding on whether to add a splash of color. After all, the best resume isn't the most colorful one, but the one that lands you the job.


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