Color Me or Not: Use of Color on Your Resume

“Carl,” an MBA student in my Professional Development class, asked me this week if color on a resume is appropriate for people vying for marketing positions.  I asked my class to weigh in as well as my Facebook friends who work in business and in marketing.  The verdict:  Definitely use black font for the resume and if you use color, use it conservatively by having colored lines separate the sections of your resume.  The colors you select should be fairly conservative such as royal blue, hunter green, gray… which The Resume Coach, Sharon Hamersley, advised my Promoting U! workshop participants earlier this year.

However, there are differing opinions from other experts.  Tina Nicolai, a resume writer and career coach, feels that color helps brand you and distinguishes your resume from others.  As she stated in an online article from Forbes, “In today’s career world, a fully functioning and eye-catching resume includes an inclusive marketing strategy including splashes of color and tightly written copy. All colors, when used appropriately, have their place on resumes; from CEO’s to entry-level.”

But wait, it’s not that simple.  From a hiring manager’s perspective, color may be perceived as an attempt to mask a lack of skill, according to Alison Green, author of “How to Get a Job:  Secrets of a Hiring Manager.”  In her article 10 Things to Leave off Your Resume, Green wrote, “Do they not understand what employers are looking for? Do they put an inappropriate emphasis on appearances over substance? (The obvious exception to this rule is if you’re applying for design jobs.)

So back to Carl.  I would advise Carl to still play it safe since he is not applying for design positions.  Keep the font black and if the use of color appeals to you, simply use it conservatively to separate sections with a bold line and conservative color.

Have you used color on your resume and if so, did you get any feedback from the interviewer or hiring manager? 

Do you have any advice on the use of color and why do you stand by this advice?

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