Recruiters take a short six seconds to screen your resume. Resumes are therefore sorted with quick first impressions in mind. Does this look like the right candidate? Are there appropriate skills on the page? These are all things the recruiter thinks about when your resume comes across their desk.
Where does color come into the conversation? Well, recruiters tend to favor resumes that show creativity in their resume that matches the requirement of creativity in their role. Used effectively, your resume color can help you stand out, demonstrate culture fit, and direct attention. Used poorly, color on your resume can look gimmicky and throw the recruiter off. See the benefits and drawbacks of using color on your resume along with the best strategy to get hired.
The benefits of including color on your resume
Demonstrating culture fit
A benefit to including color on your resume is the ability to demonstrate culture fit. Specifically, you can use your color scheme to match the brand of your potential employer. Not only does this show your awareness of the organisation’s brand, but your attention to detail in your work. While this won’t be enough on its own to get you hired, it will certainly be a detail that sets you apart.
When Pavel was building his data scientist resume, he chose a blue color scheme that matched the brand of Booking.com, where he eventually got hired. He credits these small details for giving him an edge over other applicants.
Tip: Create a resume just like Pavel’s using Enhancv’s resume builder that perfectly balances professionality and personality.
Automated Tracking Systems
A concern you may be dealing with is passing through Automated Tracking Systems (ATS). These are designed and utilised by recruiters to screen resumes submitted for certain resume buzzwords, key attributes, and so on. Unlike your resume length or format, the color your use on your resume will not affect your performance in ATS. So, there’s no need to worry.
Ask yourself one question when putting your resume together: what three things do you want the recruiter to remember about you? We all have key points in our career we want to ensure the recruiter sees. On top of that, you’re hoping the recruiter sees how you answer the job description. Using color, you can highlight the absolute most important parts of your resume. This can be key sections, or even words. Anything to help you pass the 6 second test.
In his IT resume, Adam used color to organise graphics when detailing his typical day of work.
This simple graphic quickly draws the attention of the recruiter and focuses their attention on the makeup of Adam’s typical day – from utilising his skills in technical support to building relationships through networking.
No limitation on your physical resume
Adding color to your resume doesn’t add limitation: in fact, it gives you more options. When crafting your resume using a distinct color palette, you always have the option of printing your resume in greyscale for those organisations that may prefer a more traditional resume design. It’s the best of both worlds.
Recruiters will appreciate resumes that use color to add to their resume, but not those that take away from their resume. Using countless color combinations and variations across your resume will look gimmicky. It will look like you’re trying to overcompensate for a lack of experience and/or appropriate skills; the last thing you want to do.
Some colors can be difficult to read depending on the type of paper they’re printed on. There’s also a chance the recruiter may struggle with very bright colors or they may not present as pigmented on their computer screen compared to yours. If you’re using color on important text, this can distort readability.
More expensive printing
As a more practical drawback of color on your resume, you’ll have to spend more money on printing. Whether this is on your personal printer (i.e., purchasing more color ink) or in printing shops, the cost is higher. The question you’ll have to ask yourself is simple: is it worth it?
Primary, Secondary, and Accent
To catch your recruiters attention and avoid coming off as gimmicky, the best way of using color on your resume is to pick three. One color should serve as your primary color, a second color as your secondary color, and your third color as an accent. The accent color is used to draw attention and highlight the most important parts on your resume.
When developing his teacher resume, Ben did just this. Using grey as his primary color, black as his secondary color, and blue as his accent, St. Francis Xavier College saw the skills that made him a gifted career advisor and teacher.
The primary, secondary, and accent strategy has been used across countless industries. Our users have effectively used it when getting hired at places like Spotify, Verizon Digital Media Services, and Booking.com. These successes aren’t limited to the tech sector, however. Daniel used it when creating his customer support resume, Casey in her volunteering resume, and Melanie in her sales resume.
Match to your cover letter
Consistency is key in most aspects of life. The same is true when using color on your resume. There’s little sense in topping your resume (that’s full of life and color) with a black and white cover letter. Be sure to match the colour scheme across all materials your present the recruiter.
Consider resume paper
The resume paper you print your resume on can have a great effect on the color fonts and graphics you include. If you’re planning on printing on white paper, most colors will print and read well off of this. The same can’t be said if you use black paper, or even blue or pink.
Should you use color on your resume? Yes
When it comes to resume color, the question shouldn’t centre around whether you should or not (you should) but rather on how you’ll incorporate color. As outlined above, using the primary, secondary, and accent color strategy is the best way to get noticed by recruiters and focus their attention.