Best Colour for Your Resume


Colour is a big deal when it comes to first impressions. When we first look at something (including a resume), we decide what we think about it in the first 90 seconds – and most of that decision, up to 90%, is because of the colour we see.

So, selecting the right colour for your resume is important!

What impact does the colour of my resume have?

Recognising that colour influences initial perceptions is one aspect; however, determining the nature and extent of this impact is a separate challenge.

In the past, it was thought to be quite straightforward. Red, for example, was simply attributed to feelings of warmth, energy, and attention. However, we now understand individual differences, including culture, gender, and age impact our interpretation of colour.  For instance, red in Chinese culture represents good fortune and joy, while in African cultures red symbolises death and grief.

Additionally, context impacts how colour is perceived. In some circumstances, the colour red can be a signal of danger, threat, and caution. On the other hand, red can be a symbol of romance. It all depends on the situation!

This is the same for other colours. Purple, for example, has mostly commonly been linked with luxury and royalty; however, as colour theory has evolved, we now understand that it is much more complex. While in Western cultures, purple is the colour of royalty, in Latin America and South America, purple is associated with mourning and death.

Purple is also tricky, given its various shades; subdued tones of purple are associated with feminine and romantic energies and are thought to induce a sense of calmness and compassion. On the other hand, a deeper and darker shade of purple is thought to convey a sense of mystery or magic!

So, how then do we decide which colour is the best colour for our resume?!

What is the best colour for a resume?

Given that we are unable to precisely determine the implications of our readers’ individual differences (culture, gender, age) on their perception of our resume’s colour, the best option is to select a colour that is most universally positively perceived. 

Let’s start with the results of the poll on this website. According to this poll, the best colour is blue.

Pie Chart
Black & White 14%, Blue 39%, Green 11% Red 36%

It is noted that blue only marginally won, with red coming a very close second; however, this poll was taken on this article discussing the suitability of red for a resume. Most people visiting the page arrived with a bias to red. This likely skewed the results.

To test this theory, I took a random sample of 50 client resumes to find the most popular colour used. Those that included colour overwhelmingly selected blue.

Pie Chart
Red 8%
Blue 56%
Yellow 12%
Multicoloured 12%
Green 12%

The best colour is…

These results would confirm that blue, being the most popular choice (where colour was used), is a positively perceived colour.

Blue Square. (Blue is the best colour for your resume)

This is supported by claims that blue is the most liked colour in the world, preferred by 35% of the world’s population.

Interestingly, in a YouGov survey, blue was found to be the top favourite colour across ten countries. Also, it was the winner across age groups and genders!

Why is blue the world’s favourite colour? Apparently, the things commonly associated with blue are mostly always positive.

This is also largely true for the perceptions of blue. The colour blue is associated with traits such as loyalty, confidence, security, and a sense of reliable authority.

Also important to note is that according to the YouGov survey, while blue was the most popular colour in ten countries across the world, there was much more variation in the second-most popular colour.  This further supports the universal appeal of blue in compassion to any other colour.

The other element to consider when selecting a colour for your resume is the context.

Does blue hold up in the context of a job application?

The evidence would suggest that it does. Researchers have found that positively perceived colours are perceived to be favoured across a wider range of situations or contexts.

Furthermore, Blue is the most used colour in company logos, which confirms its acceptance across industries and roles.

Overall, the case for a blue resume is strong.  For most people, this would be the safest option as it is most universally perceived positively and suitable for most contexts.

This doesn’t mean blue is the only option for your resume. Certainty, in some industries or when applying to a specific organisation, other colours would fit the context. For example, using a red resume to apply at a restaurant or Netflix.  Or, here, using Woolworths green to specifically target a role at Woolworths. Do, though, select a colour with context in mind and with an awareness that the readers’ individual perceptions of your colour choice may vary.

Related: Can My Resume Be Red?

A final pitch, for also considering no colour on your resume:

The case for no colour

There is, of course, the option of using no colour.

No colour did not poll well on the website (again, this most likely reflects the bias); however, within the random sample of resumes, while blue emerged as the preferred choice among those who did use colour, most resumes overall adhered to the classic black and white format.

Pie Chart
Black and White 50%
Red 4%
Blue 28%
Yellow 6%
Multicoloured 6%
Green 6%

These findings gain significance, especially for organisations employing Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). In such cases, the colour of your resume may be rendered largely irrelevant as the system extracts and processes information to create a structured database for recruiters and hiring managers to review.

There are some advantages of using no colour on your resume:

  • Printer-Friendly: A black-and-white format is printer-friendly and ensures that your resume maintains its intended appearance when printed on different devices.
  • Professionalism: A black-and-white resume conveys a sense of professionalism and simplicity.
  • Readability: Black text on a white background is generally easier to read, both in print and on screen.
  • Focus on Content: With a monochromatic palette, the emphasis shifts to the content of your resume—your skills, experiences, and achievements.
  • Adaptability: Black and white resumes are less likely to clash with company-specific branding or aesthetic preferences, making them a versatile choice for various job applications

You can find a modern black-and-white resume template here:

Black and White Resume Template

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