Color Dos & Don’ts
DO consider your personal brand and personality when selecting colors for the résumé. Also consider matching the color on the résumé to the brand colors of the company being applied to. Mirroring company colors shows you have done your homework and changing colors is an easy adjustment to make in Microsoft Word.
- RED – Coca-Cola
- BLUE – JetBlue
- ORANGE – Amazon
When using color on a résumé, DO maximize contrast by using “opposite color” pairs — for example, blue/yellow, blue/orange, navy/gold, and purple/gold.
DO add color to the design, not just the content. Include color on design elements such as lines, boxes, and callouts.
DO make sure the color works both on the screen and when the résumé is printed out.
DON’T use too many colors. A maximum of three colors is recommended — one color for the résumé header and sections, a second color for body text, and an accent color to add emphasis (for example, bullets or subheadings). Black or a dark gray is recommended for main body text.
DON’T put a light color on a light or white background. From a technical standpoint, color on the résumé has little bearing on résumés filtered through applicant tracking system software, as long as there is sufficient contrast between the text and background. However, some color choices can reduce readability of the résumé if not carefully considered.
DON’T be afraid to stand out. You can’t go wrong using black (and white and gray) on a résumé, but it may keep you from standing out in a crowded field of candidates.
Best Practices with Color
In addition to the dos and don’ts listed above, also consider the following best practices:
- Keep the design simple. Don’t overload it with graphics and design elements
- Use 1” résumé margins
- Have well-defined résumé sections with clear headers
- Choose an easy-to-read font, especially for body text and subheadings using color
- Make sure the cover letter matches the color use on the résumé
- Print the finished document in black and white to make sure it’s still readable
“Color is like a spice” — use it to accentuate. Too many colors, not enough contrast between colors, and using bright primary colors are just some of the common mistakes made with color on résumés.