Color psychology is largely impacted by personal preference and perception. However, research has identified some specific characteristics that are often associated with particular colors.
- RED can portray strength, confidence, power, and passion. It’s an effective way to draw user attention (a “call to action”) but should be used sparingly to avoid negative reactions. Commonly used in sales, marketing, and technology résumés.
- ORANGE is fun, energetic, warm, bold, adventurous, and friendly. It connotes power and confidence. It can also demonstrate creativity and adventure. It is commonly used on customer service, design, arts, and sports résumés.
- YELLOW can signify happiness, optimism, inspiration, and confidence. However, too much yellow may bring negative reactions, such as a feeling of anxiety or fear. Yellow is sometimes used on résumés for artists, designers, and educators.
- GREEN is calming, peaceful, and can convey the impression of growth. It has more positive energy than other colors, but can sometimes be associated with inexperience or new beginnings. It can be effective for résumés for science, sales, health industries, and nonprofit careers.
- BLUE is the color of trust, security, and stability. Aside from black, blue is the most commonly used color on résumés. It can also be associated with distance and sadness. Blue is commonly used on résumés in finance, business, law, and education professions.
- PURPLE is associated with luxury, wealth, and creativity. Deep purple is especially effective for female executives. However, a big concentration of purple text may distract readers, so use it carefully. Purple is effective for medical, higher education, and executive résumés.
- PINK conveys feelings of hope, sensitivity, and romance. It is often associated with youthful femininity and playfulness, which can make it effective for résumés targeting the beauty industry and health fields.
- BROWN reflects security, experience, protection, warmth, and comfort. Brown can be associated with dependability and reliability, or it can be considered dull. It is often used in conservative fields like law and finance.
- BLACK is classic and sophisticated and is seen as both traditional and modern.
Subtle, jewel tones (navy blue, burgundy, dark green, deep purple) — when used as an accent especially — are appropriate for almost all conservative industries, including legal, finance, engineering, politics, and medicine. Muted, natural tones and pastels are also acceptable.
Colors are assigned “meaning” but this can be affected by the age, culture, and gender of the reader. Different parts of the world view some colors very differently.
For example, regarding gender preferences, research shows:
- Both men and women like blue and green
- Men dislike brown the most; women dislike orange
- Men prefer achromatic colors like white, black, and gray
Color can be used judiciously to highlight key information on the résumé — such as résumé headings — WORK EXPERIENCE, EDUCATION, AFFILIATIONS, etc. Color can help the reader find important information.