How to effectively use colors on resume in 2021

Choosing the best resume color is a challenge and it is a factor that will make your resume a winning one. Many applicants try to make their resume stand out by adding different colors to their document in order to make it more attractive. But unfortunately this is also a reason for many to be eliminated from the job competition. This is because no one knows how to maintain the professionalism of their resume while adding colors on it.

When the professionalism of your resume is low, it is not surprising that employers move away from your resume. So knowing the best resume colors in 2021 will be very important for you to move forward in your career.

Should we use colors on resumes?

There is no standard or proper answer for this question. However it depends on a few factors such as the job you are applying for, the industry, the company’s culture etc.

Accordingly, if you are applying for a job in Finance, Law, Banking and other conservative jobs, it is better to go for a black and white color theme instead of creating a multi-color resume. Adding vivid colors to the resume when applying for such jobs can cause your candidacy to be rejected. Keep that in mind, especially when applying for a government job.

However, when designing a resume for a job in the fields like marketing, technical, creative, and media, you can play with resume colors without any hesitation. When applying for such jobs, you can definitely stand out from the rest of the applicants by adding colors to your resume effectively.

Why should you add some colors on your resume?

Generally most recruiters don’t consider the presence of colors in a resume as a problem. In fact, adding colors to a resume can bring unexpected advantages for you as below.

01. Positive first impression

The first impression of a resume really matters on a 6-second resume scan. In general, the purpose of a resume is to get the attention of the employer on your resume. It is easier for you to achieve this goal with a colorful resume than a plain resume. It makes your resume more attractive as well.

02. To highlight the key information

Make sure that the key information on your resume such as Work Experience, Education, Skills are highlighted enough to attract the attention of the recruiters. Since a recruiter takes a very short time to scan your resume, all the important points on your resume need to be highlighted to prove that you are the right person for the position.

03. Increase the legibility and the clarity

The most important thing in your resume is the content. Your resume is often scanned with a human eye as well as by ATS bots. Therefore, it is very important to have the clarity of the resume font used in your resume. Instead of using light colors, it is wise to use a text color that is more visible to the naked eye. Then the readability of the resume will also be increased.

04. Resume colors can communicate your passion towards the company

If you are applying for a vacancy in your dream company, you can add the colors of the branding of that company to your resume. It shows your desire for the company and makes the recruiter feel that you are making a serious effort to get the position.

05. It highlights your creativity

Your resume is a great way to show your creativity skills before an interview. An effective color addition to your resume will bring you more job opportunities if you are applying for a job in the creative industry like Graphic Designer, UI/UX Engineer, Interior Designer, Web Developer, and Brand Executive/Manager.

Resume color rules

Rule #01

Use white as the background color every time when you make a resume. Never use any other color as the background color of your resume. Some people think that using a light color is not a problem. But we strongly recommend you to use only white instead of dark or light color as the background color. Then the text in your resume content can be read by the recruiter without any difficulty.

But if you do want to apply a background color to add beauty to your resume, it’s okay to apply a background color only on the contact information / resume header. But make sure that the text on the resume header has good visibility. Also avoid using light fonts on a white background because it could make the text hard to read for the reader.

Rule #02

Choose a clear contrasting color for fonts and resume subtitles to increase readability. This will help the recruiter to understand what to read first and to which information should be given the priority.

Rule #03

Don’t pick two primary colors. If two primary colors are added to your resume, it will be difficult to figure out which section the rector should focus on at once at the initial resume screening. If the recruiter is confused, it is very easy for him to reject your resume and move to another one. So apply colors to your resume wisely without taking that risk.

Find out the exact meaning of the resume colors

Did you know that every color has a hidden meaning? Not only that, it has been scientifically proven that colors can change people’s moods and even emotions. So when you add color to a resume it will be very important for you to know the exact meaning of those colors. The color chart below will help you to identify which impressions each color evokes.

resume color emotions

What are the best color combinations for a resume?

Are you looking for the best color combination for your resume? So below we present the best color combination found after an experiment conducted jointly by some of the expert graphic designers and career specialists. Make your resume stand out by using those colors wisely.

Color CombinationFirst Color (Hex Code)Second Color (Hex Code)
Black and White#000000#FFFFFF
Deep Teal and Ivory#043442#E5E7E7
Navy and Coral#2B2741#EF5253
Ivory and Charcoal#ECE9E1#3D3D3D
Classic Blue and Black#0D8FCD#000000
Black and Gold#000000#B29155
Almost Black and Yellow#3F3B37#FFDB35
Navy and Mint#2B2741#8FEBD5
Black and Red#000000#F61329
Steel Blue and Soft Gray#303E4C#F1F1F3

Does color on a resume impact the ATS test?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are designed to grab the applicants’ information into a database and filter the best resumes according to the requirements of the position. So the software is customized to catch the grammar mistakes, spelling mistakes, and qualification availability of the resumes. Therefore using colors will never impact the ATS test. 

But as the ATS absorbed the text of the resumes from an electronic scan the colors must not affect the digital visibility of the resume. Because the bright colors will disturb the scan and miss the text. Then the ATS will gain the wrong details about you. So you need to consider that when you select the colors for your resume.

Recruiters taste in resume colors

As the recruiters are also humans they may have different tastes in colors. But the applicants lose their job opportunity very rarely if their resume colors do not tally with the recruiters’ personal taste. Also without knowing who will be reading your resume, how do you match your resume color with their taste?  

The purpose of your resume is to win the interview. So you must try to make your resume stand out enough to fulfill your desire. If the colors disturb the readability of your resume, there is no purpose in using a colorful resume. So make sure the colors do not make an impact for the readability before submitting your resume.

Tips to get the best out of resume colors

Avoid bright colors on resumes

Use the color consistently

Don’t use more than 3 colors on your resume

Create a cover letter with the same color theme

Try to balance the color theme between creativity and professionalism

Don’t forget to use black text for your core resume content

Avoid using bright colors and high contrasting colors

Avoid using light colors against the white background as it is difficult to read

How to avoid drawing negative attention with colors on a resume?

A resume with a color combination can enhance the value of your resume, but adding too much color can negatively affect your job search. So whenever you create a resume avoid using resume colors that distorts the readability.

Using the heavy graphics on the resume is another fact that draws the negative attention of the recruiters. If they feel like the applicant has given priority to the decorations of the resume rather than adding their career related information and qualifications, they will disqualify you from the job competition. So never make that bad impression among the recruiters.


Now you realize that adding a color to your resume is not an easy task and it is a challenging decision for you to make. So if you really know a color that your future hiring professionals or the company you are going to apply for will like, then go ahead with that color. But if you don’t know anything like that, it is better for you to go for a safe option like black and white colored theme resume.

Good luck with your job search!