Is it ok to use color on your resume?

One of my clients read an article on yahoo talking about what not to do on your resume. He wondered about the point they wrote about the use of color on your resume. He sent me an email with the link for the article to ask my opinion.

5. A fancy design. Here’s what most hiring managers think when we see a resume with unusual design or use of color:

Does this candidate think that their skills and achievements won’t speak for themselves?

Do they not understand what employers are looking for? Do they put an inappropriate emphasis on appearances over substance?

Who did they ask about color on your resume?

I always love the “most hiring managers” kinds of statements. Is that a scientific survey? Did they ask 1000 hiring managers and 998 said that or did they ask two hiring managers who just are stuck in the 1980s versions of resumes? You can skew any statistical support by asking the wrong sample. In addition, you can use one comment to make up your opinion.

Here’s a fact. Design Resumes has been using color on resumes for more than 15 years. Clients love color on their resumes. Moreover, hiring managers love color on their resumes. How do I know? Hiring managers who hired my clients told me.

Should you put color on your resume?

Check out these comments from former clients:

Julie worked diligently to work through the challenges I struggled with when writing my own resume. She did not offer the standard cookie-cutter solution so many before her had offered. Instead, she perfected a resume that generated several interviews and job offers immediately. Interviewers gave me many compliments on my well-designed and clear resume.

I just wanted to let you know I accepted a position at XYZ School District.  I know I already thanked you once, but I want to do it once again.  Thank you!  Helping me redesign my resume and cover letter allowed me to get the looks I needed to get interviews.  I will recommend you to anyone on the job search!

I was able to send my resume to a lot of great companies like Syngenta and Pioneer Seed in Hawaii and was able to get interviews. Best of all, I got an opportunity to apply for the parks supervisor with the city of Beverly Hills California. They were so impressed with my resume and application they invited me to interview for the opening. With 300+ applications from all over the United States, I came out to be their #1 candidate.

Julie – just wanted to thank you again for all the work you did with me. I love, love, LOVE my new job. Perfect fit for me. Almost like the job was tailored around my resume!

Will using color on your resume get you hired?

No, but neither will leaving it off. Your resume needs to be written with clear accomplishments proving your value in the position you want to the hiring manager. Check out my samples.

Will some hiring managers not like the color?

Sure, but some hiring managers won’t like something no matter what you do. If you create a résumé that resonates with quantifiable and qualifiable results, you will get read and noticed.

By the way, after I answered my client’s question on Facebook message and responded to the 10 points in the article, he said: “OK thanks, just thought I would check with you. I trust your word over yahoo’s any day!”

I am a triple-certified professional resume writer and career coach who helps you as a director to executive job seeker clarify your value in your career marketing materials while coaching you to better market yourself through virtual consultative and interactive Zoom sessions. Learn more.


Is it ok to use color on your resume?


  1. Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter (Career Trend) on June 24, 2012 at 7:27 am


    I have nothing to add; you chose the perfect content and ‘story points’ to sell the value of including color on resumes. And, you successfully counter the article writers who insist on staying stuck in the 80s!

    Thank you for this meaty and influential post!


    • Julie Walraven on June 24, 2012 at 7:40 am

      Always good to see you pop by, Jacqui! I know you understand the frustration as a career pro! We spend hours researching, training, and learning from other career experts and the average job seeker takes the advice of someone who randomly writes an article because job search is a hot topic. Success in a job search is directly related to whose advice you follow. 1980’s doesn’t cut it.

  2. ROBERT POINDEXTER on June 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

    Excellent article Julie. It is harder to argue with the results your grateful clients have reported, then some random naysayer that is unlikely to have the wealth of knowledge that you possess. The next this supposed “expert” wants to know if color matters, perhaps he/she should contact a few major corporations that spend millions on billboards that use massive amounts of…wait for it…..COLOR!!!!
    Great post and a great lesson in reality versus fiction.

    • Julie Walraven on June 24, 2012 at 11:55 am

      Thank you, Rob, and coming from someone who lived the corporate sales world for years, you know what you are talking about. Isn’t it crazy that so many people follow the advice of those who are clueless as to what works.

  3. Larry Sanguinetti on June 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    I agree that color, at the very least, helps to make an individual resume stand out from the stacks on any one recruiter’s desk. I wonder, however, whether color could work against you when resumes are submitted electronically and printed by the reviewer. If you use color, you need to be very sure that it still works when printed in grayscale.

    • Julie Walraven on June 26, 2012 at 12:54 pm

      I totally agree but my use of color is in borders, bullets and banner headlines typically. I reverse the print to white whenever the background would wash out the black print in the banner headline so no worries. The only time that would be an issue is if someone left black print on top a color. Thanks for stopping by.

      By the way, one of the recruiters I work with regularly placed many of my clients before we met and all had color resumes.

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