One of the easiest ways to give a résumé or CV a nice visual pop is to incorporate a bit of color. Since the advent of digital, all-black text on an all-white background has become outdated. But if you’re like me, a minimalist by nature who’s careful about overdoing it, you might have trouble coming up with a method for incorporating color. How do you decide on a color? And where should it go?
In this article, I’m sharing three ways to incorporate color to turn an otherwise traditionally formatted résumé into a visually interesting, up-to-date professional summary. I’m also sharing a free template of the design I’ve created especially for this article. Let’s go!
First thing’s first: Pick a color
For the purposes of this article, color means anything other than all-black typeface on an all-white background. Don’t overthink it: choose a color you love, then find a way to incorporate it in a manner that’s creative but still mature and professional. The first color that pops into your head is probably the one for you.
Tip: If you’re worried that your initial color choice is a bit too loud, try using a color tool online to find variations that are easier on the eyes. ColorHexa is one of my favorite sites for stuff just like this.
My go-to color is almost always gray. You’ll see it come up again and again in all my CV templates, usually as the core color. Because it’s so calming to look at, I can use it all over the page without worrying about visual overload. It’s also easy to match up with most other colors, which is an added bonus.
Your color might be something much brighter, like yellow or pink. Those are beautiful colors, too, but they probably wouldn’t work all over the page. That’s why it’s important to consider several different ways of incorporating the color – if one thing doesn’t work, you can try another.
Depending on what you’re trying to say with your CV, you may find that the best color for you is not necessarily your everyday favorite but one traditionally associated with the quality you’re intent on transmitting for this particular job application. You can do a bit of research on color psychology online if that’s something you’re interested in.
Now that you’ve settled on a color, I have three suggestions about how to bring it onto the paper.
Option 1: Use a colored background for your header
Against the colored background, include the details that would normally go at the top of your résumé: name and job title; name and contact details; or even just your name. Below is an example of how to do this featuring a lovely pastel pink as our background color.
Tip: Want to use this color yourself? The RGB formula is 255, 209, 220.
This gorgeous pale pink paired with a simple, straightforward header in white is both calming and eye-catching, a perfect combination. The reason this works so well and manages to look entirely professional is thanks to the toned-down nature of the tint.
Option 2: Color your section headers
Depending on the color you’ve chosen, you can use it for the section headers throughout your CV to give the whole page a few pops of light all around. If the color is closer to neutral in appearance, like our lovely pastel pink from above, you can use it for both the header background and your section headers to really bring your CV to life. However, do be careful not to use a very light color – you want to make sure that all of the text throughout the page is perfectly readable.
To that end, I’ve used a slightly darker pink for the section headers, below:
You can see the pink used here is not quite as light as the one for the header background, but it doesn’t look out of place. It’s really the same color, only a bit farther along the color spectrum. To get this particular pastel, use RGB combination 255, 158, 181.
Option 3: Insert colored hyperlinks throughout your résumé
This is one of my favorite tricks to bring color to a résumé in a subtle way. If you feel a very stylistic format wouldn’t be appropriate for your application, or you just don’t like a lot of color, simply insert colored hyperlinks throughout the text, remembering to edit the link title appropriately.
Links are meant to be in color so they’re easily spotted on the screen – that’s why Word defaults all links to blue 255 and underlines them. Once you’ve inserted the link, highlight and change them to your chosen color.
Create links that will be useful for the recruiter or hiring manager. In most cases, they’ll be looking at a digital copy of your résumé, so there’s a chance they’ll actually check out where the links go. You can, for example, use the names of the companies you’ve worked at to create links to their About Us pages. If you can link to projects you’ve completed or managed, even better. And of course, if you have your own website or a fabulous LinkedIn profile, don’t forget to include links to those, too.
See examples below featuring the same pink from the section headers. I’ve included both underlined and non-underlined “hyperlinks” for comparison:
Personally, I dislike the way underlined text looks, so I prefer to use color alone to indicate the presence of a hyperlink. But if you like, you can include a helpful symbol next to the link title to point it out (a chain-link icon, for example).
Now with a bright, eye-catching CV, you’re ready to get to work on those job applications. Review the document as a whole and make sure the color scheme works as a unit. For this particular design, I was careful to choose a tint that would be subtle enough to use in all three categories: header background, section headers, and links. Here’s the result:
Put yourself in the recruiter or hiring manager’s shoes: do your eyes dart comfortably around the page? Is the color pleasant to look at? If so, your work here is done!
I hope you found these color tips useful. Having a CV you’re truly proud of is not just about getting the words right but the look, too, so I encourage you to use these tips to your advantage and to be unafraid of making your CV as much an expression of yourself as the outfit you’ll wear to that job interview.
Want a FREE template of this pink and gray résumé template? You can download a Word copy here. All I ask in return is that you share a link to Betenwrite.com on a social platform of your choice. You can use the sharing buttons at the bottom of this article.
For feedback or to discuss how I might be able to help you come up with the best possible version of your résumé, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I started Betenwrite because I’m passionate about all things content, particularly the kind that inspires people to do better for themselves. I firmly believe that each of us is the editor of our own story – if you don’t like the way yours is going, rewrite it. If taking charge of your story involves finally chasing that dream career, as it did for me, then check out my résumé template library, where you can download free and easy-to-edit designs. Before you go, please help spread the word about Betenwrite online by using the social sharing buttons below.
Rui Betencourt, Editor