There is a lot of advice out there about whether or not to use colour on your resume, or to keep it standard black and white.
Many experts and recruiters will insist that you use only black and white to keep your resume simple so it’s easy to read. They may even tell you that using colour on your resume may be a disadvantage to you.
If you speak to artists and interior designers, they will tell you how colour has an incredible effect on people’s moods, feelings and emotions. Most people don’t realise how powerful colour is as a communication tool. Did you know that colours can be used to signal action, influence mood, and cause physiological reactions? According to psychology expert, Kendra Cherry, author of the ‘Everything Pscyhology Book’; “Certain colours can raise blood pressure, increase metabolism, or cause eyestrain.” Doesn’t that make you wonder what colours will influence a recruiter’s decision whether or not to interview you?
The colour spectrum can be separated into two distinct ‘mood-affecting’ sections.
According to Ms Cherry, colours within the red zone of the colour spectrum, are known as warm colours; such as red, orange and yellow. “These colours evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility”. If you are using a colour from the ‘warm’ colour spectrum, you must therefore be very choosy on the shade you choose; and we recommend doing additional research on your chosen colour before using it on your resume.
The region of the colour spectrum that falls under the ‘blue’ region is known as containing ‘cool’ colours. These include blue, purple and green; “and are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness and indifference”, says Ms Cherry.
Ms Cherry says that many ancient cultures, including Egyptian and Chinese, as well as some modern therapists; use colours to heal, due to their proven effects on the body. This type of therapy is known as chromotherapy; or more recently in holistic and alternative treatments, as light therapy or colourology.
Below is an example of how colours are used in healing therapies:
RED – used to stimulate the body and mind and increase circulation
YELLOW – thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body
ORANGE – used to heal lungs and increase energy levels
BLUE – believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain
INDIGO – thought to alleviate skin problems
Although the above example does not give you much in terms of what colours will help you to land a job; they give you an indication of how powerful colours can be.
Some research has demonstrated that in many cases, positive effects caused by colour may only be temporary. However, this may just go in your favour! Impact Hiring Solutions say that it only takes 10-20 seconds for a recruiter to scan a resume and make a decision whether or not they are interested in the candidate. This makes the use of colour perfect, as you want to make an immediate impact that causes you to be shortlisted and not ‘brushed over’ or ‘tossed aside’.
This is why, if you do decide to use colour in your resume or CV, you should very carefully select a colour scheme that will make the right impact on recruiters and hiring managers.
Most people when creating their resume will ‘play it safe’, and use plain black and white to describe their experience and skills. The problem with this is that they are limited in how they can highlight key information on their CV; and unfortunately playing it safe means not standing out of the crowd. That means their CV will blend in with the hundreds of others that recruiters and hiring managers trawl through.
So, don’t you think that if you used some colour on your CV that your CV will stand out above hundreds of others? This is particularly true if the colours you choose affect the recruiter in a positive way!
Why You Should Use Colour on Your Resume
Stephanie N, from Snag a Job, says of the use of colour in resumes: “I actually get a little happy when I open up a resume that has colour on it, possibly because I’ve spent too many hours staring at plain black and white type and it all starts to run together after a while.”
Stephanie also says that a candidate who uses colour on their resume shows self-confidence, “and that’s a good thing”; says Stephanie.
That’s another plus point for using colour on your resume: it shows that you are confident in your particular skillset.
Experts say that even though a little colour on your resume is OK, you must not over-do it, and you should also refrain from using graphics. We’ve seen some resumes that have effectively used logos from their workplaces which worked well; and others that have seriously not worked at all. I therefore recommend not using logos or graphics at all, unless you have the assistance of a professional.
Another thing you should keep in mind is that on screen your colours may look really striking; but often recruiters print out resumes; so you must also ensure that the colouring looks as striking in print as on screen. Further, and most importantly, your resume needs to be clear and readable when printed. If the colour you are using is not so easy to read when you print out your resume, you should change the colouring to something that will be clearly read when printed.
Laura Smith-Proulx of An Expert Resume says that you should keep three things in mind when selecting colours for your resume if you want a positive outcome:
1) You must select a colour that fits the industry that you are aiming for. Click here to see what colours we suggest for your industry or occupational area. If your industry is not listed, click here for our full range of CVs and their suggested industries/occupations.
2) You should use your colour to highlight specific elements. This means drawing the attention of the reader to things like your key skills. Click here to see how you can use colour in titles, bullet points and headers.
3) Choose a colour that reflects your personality. Ms Smith-Proulx suggests that if you are not a bold and confident person, you may give the wrong impression if you use colours that are bold and ‘edgy’. The best way to find the right colour that reflects your personality is to use one of your favourite colours.
What Colours Say About You
In Maleeka Spriggs’ article, “Favourite Colour Reveals Personality Type”, she links colour with personality type. Using this information, you can decide on what you want to portray to recruiters when you are applying for jobs.
Below are her findings in brief, on some common colours you could use on your resume:
This is the colour of extroversion, of a person with desire, appetite, a will to live life fully. You are somewhat aggressive, impulsive, perhaps athletic, surely quick to release your feelings and emotions. You have many ups and downs in your feelings.
To you, life is meant to be happy, and when it isn’t, you are confused and upset. You hate monotony, are quick to judge people, quick to form opinions and boldly express them.
We say: red shows confidence, and is a good colour to use if you are in middle to senior management, or in a position that demands confidence.
You are sure to be constant in your ways, persevering, sensible and respectable. You have a good balance. Outspoken, with a love of freedom, those who like green are generally social and live in a good neighbourhood, have many friends and belong to social organizations. You tend to resist change. You like parties and you like to eat – and may usually be on a diet.
Your social standing, financial position and reputation are all of top importance to you. You constantly seek affirmation of companionship and affection.
We say: if you are a calm and collected person, and your industry or occupation calls for this type of personality; green is a good choice for you. We also suggest green for scientific professions, busy office jobs or people who work with children and animals. Green can also be used for IT, engineering or technical positions.
You want a serene world and a calm life and you want your affairs to be orderly and neat. An introvert, you are deliberate, introspective, but perhaps not too intellectual. Steady and a hard worker, you will probably be successful and make a lot of money.
Though you have a tendency to be egotistical and opinionated, you know how to accept responsibility and obligation. You are sensitive to others and have a secure hold on your emotions.
We say: blue is one of the safest colours to use, because of its calming effect on recruiters and hiring manager; and can actually be used for any professions. However, we particularly recommend it for: administration, medical, retail, hospitality, management, finance and marketing jobs.
Two types of people like purple. The first is sensitive, with deep insight, temperamental and creative with meaningful things to do and passionate devotion to them. The second type admires artists, mystics and unique people. This type feels there should be gentility, courtesy and affection everywhere, and no war, disease or poverty.
Some lovers of purple are charming and adoring patrons of the arts and others are true artists themselves.
We say: purple can be a great colour for positions in the fields of pharmaceuticals, social work, child protection or child care work.
Generally you are good-natured, likable and social, you make friends easily, with an easy smile and a talent for small talk.
Chances are better than even that you will not marry, and if you do, your marriage will be one of light affection. You prefer friendliness and companionship to adoration. A natural born politician, you shine at any occupation in which you meet groups of people. You seldom indulge in serious thought or severe discipline.
We say: it doesn’t really matter if you marry or not, but orange is a fun and bold colour that can be good to use for creative and artistic professions, such as interior designers, graphic artists and other creative types.
The trick is to used colour on your CV to be eye catching enough to draw attention, but to not over-do it. You want to create an attractive CV, that effectively highlights your key skills and experience to the reader; without being too over the top – which may just put the reader off.
If you have heard or read advice from experts saying that you should not consider using colour and just stick with black and white: decide for yourself whether you want to ‘play it safe’, or whether you want to stand out when applying for jobs.