Using colors on your resume isn’t just about looking stylish; it’s about sending the right message. 

Can a dash of blue show trustworthiness? Does a hint of green reflect creativity? Does orange demonstrate enthusiasm and energy?

In this article, we’ll tell you which colors work best for different industries, what messages they send to employers, and how to use them to make your resume stand out the right way.

Should you use color on your resume?

There was a time when adding color to your resume was seen as unprofessional. But times have changed. 

Now, a colorful resume is not only accepted but can also be an advantage. It’s all about how you use colors. A touch of color can grab the attention of the recruiter and show a bit of your personality, especially in creative fields. 

Just remember, the goal is to enhance your resume, not overpower it.

What’s the best color for your resume?

Choosing the right resume color depends on the the industry you’re applying to. Some colors work better in creative industries, while others are more appropriate for traditional fields.

To make sure you choose the right color, follow these guidelines and color suggestions:

The best colors for creative resumes

For creative resumes, consider using the following color choices:

NOTE: After each color, you’ll notice a hex code, such as #FF5733. This identifies a specific color in digital designs.

Teal (Hex: #008080)

This color strikes a balance between creativity and professionalism. It’s vibrant enough to stand out but not so bold as to overwhelm.

Teal color on a resume.

Coral (Hex: #FF7F50)

Coral is great for adding a warm, energetic touch, suitable for industries that value creativity and innovation.

Coral color on a resume

Slate Blue (Hex: #6A5ACD)

This subdued shade of blue is excellent for creative roles, offering a touch of color that is both professional and aesthetically pleasing.

Slate blue color on a resume

Emerald Green (Hex: #50C878)

This rich shade of green is often associated with elegance and can add a sophisticated touch to creative resumes.

Emerald green color on a resume

Plum (Hex: #8E4585)

A versatile color, plum is often associated with luxury, wisdom, and creativity.

Plum color on a resume

The above resume colors are appropriate for creative industries such as:

  • Graphic Design
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Film and Television Production
  • Music Industry
  • Fashion Design
  • Video Game Development
  • Photography
  • Architecture and Interior Design
  • Performing Arts
  • Publishing and Writing
  • Web and Digital Design
  • Animation and Visual Effects
  • Art and Craft
  • Theatre and Dance
  • Product Design

The best colors for traditional resumes

For more traditional resumes, consider using the following resume colors:

A classic and professional choice, navy blue exudes confidence and reliability, making it ideal for industries like finance and law.

Navy blue color on a resume

Burnt Orange (Hex: #CC5500)

While more vibrant, burnt orange can be used sparingly to add warmth and a modern touch to your resume.

Burnt orange color on a resume

Burgundy (Hex: #800020)

This deep, rich color adds a touch of understated elegance, suitable for sectors like academia and high-level administration.

Burgundy color on a resume

Forest Green (Hex: #228B22)

Conveying a sense of stability and growth, forest green is a distinguished choice for industries like banking and government.

Forest green color on a resume.

Chestnut Brown (Hex: #954535)

This is a richer, deeper brown that can give your resume a grounded, robust feel.

Chestnut brown color on a resume

The above resume colors are appropriate for more conservative, traditional industries such as:

Tips for putting color on your resume

Here are some do’s and don’ts for adding color to your resume:

Color on resumes do’s:

  • Be consistent – Whatever color scheme you choose, ensure it is consistent throughout your resume. This creates a cohesive and professional look.
  • Be strategic – Add accent color to key parts of your resume, like your name, section titles, or important accomplishments. Don’t let it overpower the content.
  • Make sure your resume is easy to read – Check that your text is easy to read against the background color. High contrast between text and background is crucial.
  • Keep it professional – Even if you’re writing a creative resume, it should still maintain a professional appearance.
  • Test your resume – Test how your resume looks when printed in black and white, as it may be photocopied or printed without color.

Color on resumes don’ts:

  • Don’t put light text against a dark background – This makes the text hard to read and your resume may not print well. Always use a white background.
  • Don’t use neon or overly bright colors – A bright color palette can be distracting and may come off as unprofessional.
  • Don’t use too many colors – Stick to a maximum of two colors besides black and white to maintain a professional look.
  • Don’t use color as a crutch – Your qualifications and work experience should be the main focus. Don’t rely on color to cover up employment gaps or lack of experience.
  • Don’t ignore the psychology of color – Different colors can evoke different emotions and perceptions. For instance, avoid overly aggressive colors like bright reds, which might come off as too intense.

The best color schemes for your resume

A color scheme is a combination of colors. If you’re using two colors on your resume (don’t use more than two!) it’s important to know how to combine those two colors so they’re visually appealing and cohesive.

There are three basic types of color combinations:

1) Monochromatic color scheme

A monochromatic color scheme uses variations of a single color, incorporating different shades, tints, and tones of that color. It creates a visually cohesive and harmonious look, often seen as elegant and understated.

Examples of monochromatic color schemes include:

  • Navy Blue (Hex: #000080) and Sky Blue (Hex: #87CEEB)
  • Forest Green (Hex: #228B22) and Mint Green (Hex: #98FF98)
  • Burgundy (Hex: #800020) and Salmon Pink (Hex: #FA8072)

2) Analogous color scheme

An analogous color scheme involves colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. This scheme offers a rich and harmonious look.

Examples of analogous color schemes include:

  • Navy Blue (Hex: #000080) and Teal Green (Hex: #008080)
  • Crimson Red (Hex: #DC143C) and Burnt Orange (Hex: #CC5500)
  • Indigo (Hex: #4B0082) and Cornflower Blue (Hex: #6495ED)

3) Complementary color scheme

A complementary color scheme is made up of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. This scheme is used to create a dynamic and stimulating visual effect but needs to be balanced carefully to avoid clashing.

Examples of complementary color schemes include:

  • Royal Blue (Hex: #4169E1) and Pumpkin Orange (Hex: #FF7518)
  • Forest Green (Hex: #228B22) and Venetian Red (Hex: #C80815)
  • Amethyst Purple (Hex: #9966CC) and Golden Yellow (Hex: #FFD700)

Can ATS resumes have color?

Today, most companies today use application tracking systems (ATS) to help them in the hiring process.

ATS is computer software. When you submit your resume it goes directly into an ATS database. The ATS then sorts and parses each resume. 

If your resume has a lot of fancy graphics the ATS might get confused and not be able to read it properly. This means hiring managers will never see your resume. 

So should ATS resumes have color? Yes, resumes with color can be read by ATS, but don’t go overboard. Stick to professional, subtle colors to make sure your resume can be read by an ATS.

Feel free to use any of the colors mentioned earlier in this article. They should pose no problem for the ATS.

Tailor your entire resume to the job

We’ve already seen how important it is to use colors on your resume that are appropriate to the job you’re applying to.

But it’s equally important to tailor your entire resume. This means carefully aligning your skills, experiences, and achievements with the specific requirements of the job you’re going for.

Why is this important? Because of the way hiring managers search through the ATS database for suitable candidates.

When hiring managers want to find a candidate, they type keywords into the ATS search bar.

These keywords are skills or job titles and can usually be found in the job posting. If your resume doesn’t contain these keywords it won’t be found by the hiring manager searching through the ATS. 

To tailor your resume, read the description of the job you’re applying to and try to incorporate as many of the required or recommended skills into your resume as you can. (But don’t lie). 

The only problem with tailoring your resume like this is that it takes time and effort. 

Jobscan’s resume scanner was designed to help you tailor your resumes quickly and effectively. These highly targeted resumes will get you more job interviews!

The resume scanner works like this:

  1. Paste your resume into the scanner.
  2. Paste the job description into the scanner.
  3. Click “scan.”

After scanning, you’ll receive a score that shows how closely your resume matches the job description. You’ll also see exactly which keywords to add to increase your score. 

Here’s an example of a resume score and keywords:

A match report with resume score and recommended hard skills.

In this example, the keywords highlighted in red are missing from the resume. Adding them will increase the match score. This makes it more likely that a hiring manager will find and read this resume. You can try the resume scanner for free here.

NOTE: Only add skills if you actually have them. Don’t lie!

How to use color on your cover letter

If you decide to use color on your cover letter, choose the same colors you used on your resume. 

For example, if your resume has navy blue for headings or your name, use the same color in your cover letter. Don’t overdo it! A little color goes a long way.

The idea is to make your cover letter and resume look like a matching set, which shows you’re organized and have an eye for detail.

If you hate writing cover letters (and who doesn’t?) Jobscan’s resume scanner also features a cover letter generator. This AI-powered tool will create a personalized ATS-friendly cover letter in just one click.

Key highlights

Adding color to your resume can be beneficial, but there are several important considerations to ensure it’s done effectively:

  • Different colors can send specific messages, such as gray for professionalism, or mint green for creativity.
  • Colors like teal, coral, and slate blue are suitable for creative industries, while navy blue, dark gray, and burgundy fit more conservative fields.
  • Consistency and strategic placement of color enhance professionalism; avoid using too many or overly bright colors.
  • Monochromatic, analogous, and complementary schemes each offer unique visual appeal and cohesion.
  • Beyond the resume design, incorporating the skills and experiences required by the job is crucial. 
  • Use Jobscan’s resume scanner to help you tailor your resume, increasing the chances of getting an interview.
  • If you’re building your resume from scratch, try Jobscan’s free resume builder. There are no hidden costs and it allows you to build an ATS-compatible resume in no time!

FAQs

Can you add color to your resume?

Yes, you can certainly add color to your resume. Incorporating color can make your resume more visually appealing and help it stand out in a stack of applications. However, it’s important to use color judiciously and choose hues that are professional and suitable for your industry.

What do the colors mean on a resume?

Colors on a resume can convey different meanings and evoke various emotions. For example, blue is often associated with trustworthiness and reliability, making it a good choice for professions that value these traits.
Red can symbolize energy and passion but should be used sparingly. Green is commonly linked to growth and stability, suitable for industries like finance or environmental organizations.

What is the best color for your resume in 2024?

There is no single best color to use on your resume. It depends on the industry and the job role you are targeting. The key is to choose a color that reflects your brand while also aligning with the expectations of your industry.


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Robert Henderson, CPRW, Resume Expert

Robert Henderson, CPRW, is a career advice writer and a resume expert at Jobscan.

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