Using Colour in your Resume: Yay or Nay?

Using Colour in your Resume: Yay or Nay?

If a hiring manager clicks to open a resume and the document is neon green… chances are they will not be reading it. It is always better to be safe than sorry, and that is why we’ve always recommended to leave colours off your resume.

There is a chance that a hiring manager will appreciate the creativity and the unique element of colour in your resume. There is a chance that adding colour into your resume will help you “stand out from the crowd”. However, there is a greater chance that a hiring manager will dislike the colour, and that you will not be considered as a serious candidate.

It comes down to personal style and preference, and unfortunately it is impossible to determine the hiring manager’s personal style and preference when you’ve never met. For those of you who refuse to keep it black and white – you can use colour, but it will be at your own risk.

That being said, Resume Target polled a group of professionals on LinkedIn to get an answer to this very question: “Would you disregard a resume that incorporates colours?”

  • 55 per cent of professionals said No
  • 11 per cent of professionals said Yes
  • 34 per cent of professionals said that it depends on the industry

According to these results, if you choose to integrate colours into your resume format, you can expect to lose 11 per cent of job opportunities immediately. To be honest, we thought that number would be higher. So why do some hiring managers accept colour while others don’t? We’ve broken down the reasoning so you can decide your course of action.


When light colours are used sparingly throughout a resume, it can help highlight specific areas of information and also break up sections of the resume. Effective light colours to use on resumes include grey, light blue, and pale beige. Bright colours can distract the reader from the content itself, where light colours are much easier on the eye.

When a hiring manager is searching for the right candidate for a role, most of them will not disregard your resume simply because you’ve incorporated colours. The content on your resume is always more important. This is also why the colouring on your resume should be minimal, because the attention should remain on the text, and not on the format.


The use of bright colours on a resume, or too much colour on a resume, is viewed as unprofessional. The traditional resume is black and white. This format is easy on the eyes, easy to read, and easy to follow. That is why it works. When you incorporate bright colours into this format, the focus is immediately shifted.

Infusing your creativity into your resume is only important if creativity is a skill that you are trying to demonstrate in your resume. This is acceptable for professionals within a creative field or industry. For professionals in fields and industries outside of the creative scope, a black and white resume (maybe with a touch of grey) is the most effective format.

This is a frequent debate that always returns mixed results. What’s your take? Do you fancy some colour in your resume – Yay or Nay? Get a discussion going in our Resume Target LinkedIn Group!  

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Comments (2)

  • Jack Mulcahy Reply

    Neon green is an absurd color and should never even be considered on a resume. However, judiciously used color, such as on borders, bullets, and holding lines, adds interest and should not be discounted on the chance somebody might reject it. I always add a little color to my clients’ resumes, and I have yet to have anyone tell me a hiring manager or recruiter gave them negative feedback. On the contrary, a great many of my resumes have been complimented for their tasteful use of color to add character. My rule of thumb for this, as for all things desktop publishing, is that “just because you can do something to death doesn’t mean you should.”

    March 16, 2015 at 6:56 pm
    • Glenda Henkel Reply

      I’ve tended to err on the side of the safe, conservative and professional (the exception being in the creative fields). However, I find myself softening a bit, as Jack mentioned, with judicious, tasteful and professional use of color for accent. It still must not detract from the content — only with a subtle and effective touch.

      March 16, 2015 at 7:36 pm

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