The best colors for a resume are black, white, and blue. Blue is commonly used in workplaces and is associated with professionalism and trust.
Many large websites, from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter, use blue as their main accent color.
If you’re looking for the best color scheme for your resume and want a resume color that’s proven and safe to use, go with the same color that these big brands use — blue.
However, this doesn’t mean that blue is the only good resume color. You have a few additional options if you want to get more creative…
If you want to use an accent color other than blue, you can opt for a different color scheme.
Consider green, orange, or red.
These are all professional resume colors that look great if used correctly.
Red is more aggressive, though. It’s associated with urgency.
For example, think of stop signs and red traffic lights. They’re red because they need to grab your attention quickly.
So a red color on a resume will be seen and noticed, but red may not give the tone and message you’re hoping for.
Whereas, a color like dark green is more neutral and calm.
Think about the following when choosing your resume’s accent color:
Coming up, you’ll see examples of how to use all of these colors on a resume.
The bottom line is: You should only use colors as a subtle accent, to make the document look a bit more modern and interesting.
The focus shouldn’t be on your colors. You aren’t going to gain a major advantage by having the most colorful, “loud” resume.
In fact, overusing color or using it ineffectively could take the reader’s attention away from the words on the page.
Below, you’ll see examples demonstrating what some of the best color schemes for a resume look like.
Since we talked about blue being the best color for most resumes, let’s start with blue:
In the resume example above, you can see how a subtle blue makes a great secondary color to go along with the black text.
As mentioned earlier, research into color psychology has shown that blue is associated with professionalism and trust. This resume above would perform well in formal industries, office environments, etc.
And it looks slightly newer and more modern than a traditional black resume, which helps catch the reader’s eye and draw attention to key details.
Here’s one more example of mixing blue into your resume content to draw attention:
Next, let’s look at a different resume color choice. Here, the job seeker uses green to give their resume a modern feel and look.
Green isn’t as commonly used in business documents as blue, but it’s still a relatively safe bet in terms of colors for your resume.
Finally, we have an example of a resume using red as a secondary color. This resume stands out and catches attention immediately because of the bold color scheme.
A red accent color on your resume may perform well in some industries but could hurt the effectiveness of the document in other industries, so use your best judgement based on your target audience.
The right color for your resume depends on your role and industry.
No matter which color you opt for, choose only one color and use that same accent color throughout your resume (along with white and black).
Don’t vary your resume colors in each section. This will simply distract the hiring manager and sabotage your job search.
Your goal should be to make your resume easy to read and understand.
Job seekers who use too much color are hurting their chances of getting the interview.
And hiring managers/recruiters only spend a few seconds glancing at each resume at first, so you have to make it appealing to read.
This is why you should use your accent color sparingly on your resume… perhaps for your resume header, borders, or key headings.
One exception: You can substitute dark grey for black when choosing your resume colors.
You’ll notice that some resume templates have grey text rather than true black, which is also fine when choosing the color on your resume.
Just don’t use too light of a grey color if you’re using a white background, since you want a high contrast for better readability.
But a dark grey is still very readable on a white background, and it’s a bit softer on the eyes, which makes dark grey one of the best colors for resume design, too.
If you’re applying for a job at BestBuy, you could add a bit of yellow as a secondary color, with black as the primary color.
If you’re applying for a role at Coca-Cola, red would be an interesting choice, to place emphasis on your alignment with the brand.
However, this is not necessary, and brands don’t expect resumes to mimic their color scheme.
This is simply an idea to stand out if you’re applying to a company with a strong brand identity. It may not give you a major advantage but it would set you apart from other candidates.
Notice how the resumes examples above emphasize the text/content more than the colors. That’s how to approach your job hunt and resume design.
An overly-colorful resume won’t make the document easy to read and will just distract from the main purpose, which is to show the hiring manager your skills and experience.
In fact, it’s also okay if you have no color on your resume.
As I was finishing/editing this article, I saw a recruiter on LinkedIn who explained it quite clearly here:
There’s nothing wrong with a black and white resume.
However, using a single accent color, such as blue, can help you stand out to hiring managers while making your resume look a bit more modern and interesting.
The ideal resume color scheme finds a balance between enhancing the document without ever being distracting or “loud.”
One exception to the advice above: If you’re in a creative industry like graphic design or web design, you can consider using a few more bright colors on your resume.
In this case, an interesting color combination can show that you understand how to create unique design elements and differentiate yourself from competitors.
You can get more creative with a resume color scheme and consider using a bit of orange, red, or other eye-catching colors, which will make your resume stand out from other job seekers.
But outside of the creative industries, more color on a resume will not impress a hiring manager and will just distract them. For this reason, colorful resumes should be avoided if you’re not a creative worker.
The best color scheme for your cover letter is black or dark grey on a white background. Cover letters are slightly different than resumes in terms of color scheme and strategy because employers expect and are most comfortable with a color-free cover letter.
The only exception is if you’d like to add some color to the header section. Otherwise, the best option is a black/white color scheme.
Blue is the best third color/accent color for a resume and should be used along with black and white.
A black, white, and blue color scheme will appear modern, trustworthy, and grab the reader’s attention without being distracting.
Beyond blue, other good choices include green, red, and orange.
Whichever colors you choose, make sure there’s good contrast so that your resume is easy to read. So avoid light colors on a light background, for example.
And remember, there’s really no perfect color for a resume, since the goal of your resume is simply to draw the reader’s attention to the content and show them that you’d be a great fit for their job.
So creating the perfect resume isn’t about finding the perfect color…
Colors on your resume should serve to enhance and modernize the general look and feel, but the content on your resume is ten times more important in winning the job interview.
So don’t go overboard with color combinations. If in doubt, stick to dark blue, with black as your primary color for body text.
This will ensure that you have a modern and professional resume that’s perfect for formal industries, office jobs, and more.
Biron Clark is a former Executive Recruiter who has worked with hundreds of job seekers, reviewed thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and recruited for top venture-backed startups and Fortune 500 companies. He has been advising job seekers since 2012 to think differently in their job search and land high-paying, competitive positions.
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