Should Your CV Have Colour? (With CV Example) – CV Nation

Should Your CV Have Colour? (With CV Example)

Posted by Phillip Jewell on

A guide to whether or not your CV should be colourful


When you start to prepare your CV for job applications, you will be looking for ways to make it stand out from the crowd. This is exactly what you should be doing. With such strong competition in the job market, it's vital that your CV makes a powerful impact and grabs the attention of recruiters or hiring managers. But should you do this by adding colour to your CV?

You shouldn’t include colour in your CV, unless used sparingly to draw attention to key aspects of the document. For example, highlighting headings in a pale shade of blue can ensure your CV's sections are clearly separated. But colour isn’t necessary in your CV and it is something you should avoid in large quantities. Colour won’t impress hiring managers. You can only rely on the CV's content to do that.

In recent times, it has become common to use colour in CVs. Many people feel colour makes their CV stand out and appear modern.

In some cases, this is true. Colour can be beneficial in small doses when used appropriately. If used in headings or impact statements to make the content more prominent, colour can play a role in improving the effectiveness of your CV. But, as previously mentioned, colour should be used sparingly.


When can colour be used on your CV?

Colour can be used in section headings or subheadings. Using a different colour - other than black - for the headings can make them stand out, which improves the reading experience and ensures the recruiter can easily locate your CV’s key information.

If you do decide to use colours, opt for pale blue or grey. These colours are less in-your-face, but they can still draw attention to key parts of your CV. Avoid bright colours, such as green, red and yellow. Garish colours will probably result in the recruiter forming an instant negative impression of you as a candidate.

Ensure you only use one colour, other than black. Using too many different colours will make your CV look like a primary school student’s art project.


There are no rules about not using colour

It’s worth noting that, if you really want to, you can use as much colour as you want in your CV. There are no established rules or stipulations about what is acceptable. We recommend that you use no colour or very little colour because we find it delivers the best results, but if you’re convinced that colour will improve your CV you can include as much you like.

Your CV isn’t going to be immediately forced through the shredder as soon as recruiters realise that it contains colour. But if you want to improve your chances of success, we advise that you minimise the use of colour in your CV. This will ensure you make a good first impression and come across as a professional candidate.


Why is too much colour not recommended on CVs?

A CV is a professional career document and it should be presented in a professional manner. Black and white CVs are pretty much standard. Trying to break the mould with colours and creativity might come across as unprofessional.

A well-written CV should be black and white, with very small amounts of colour if you feel it is necessary, with neat sections and professional formatting. Your CV should be polished and error free. This shows organisation, attention-to-detail and professionalism.

What does a CV with multiple colours show? Maybe it would demonstrate your creativity. Creativity might be one of your key skills and you may want to showcase this through your colourful CV. But using colour on your CV isn’t the way to show off your creativity. Just as you wouldn’t use colour in your cover letter to demonstrate your creative skills, you shouldn't use your CV as a means of showing off your creativity.

Additionally, it’s worth considering the fact that you won’t know what device or application your CV is being read on. Colours may change on different devices and applications.


Examples of colour in CVs

Take a look at the CV example below. Note that the colour is subtle and it is only used is in the section headings. This breaks up the sections and makes for a better reading experience.

In this example, the colour improves the CV because it breaks up the sections and enables the reader to quickly identify the most important information.


Impress with accomplishments, not colour

Many people believe colour makes their CV stand out and impress. As previously mentioned, colour can draw attention to key aspects of your CV when used minimally, but you can’t expect to impress recruiters and hiring managers with colours.

You should be aiming to impress recruiters and hiring managers with your accomplishments. Specific details of times you have added value to companies in previous positions are what will make hiring managers take notice.

For example, let’s assume you’re a Sales Manager with a track record of consistently exceeding sales targets and generating new business. Would the reader be impressed by the CV’s colour or these achievements?

Of course, the achievements are much more important, so don't go overboard on Microsoft Word's colour palette.


Can you be creative with your CV if you work in a creative field?

In some cases, yes.

If you work in graphic design, it is perfectly acceptable to design your CV in a way that shows off your design capabilities. However, it is also important to ensure you maintain professionalism and don’t let your artistic side run riot.

Likewise, if you work in fashion or other design-related roles, adding colour to your CV can be effective.


Conclusion

Having written thousands of CVs for clients in over 150 industries, we’ve gained a knowledge of what works best when it comes to CV writing. While using an excessive amount of colour isn’t going to eliminate you from the candidate pool, it will be seen as unprofessional.

So don’t focus too much on colour. We recommend opting for the traditional black and white CV in most cases as it looks more professional. If you do decide to use colours, select only one colour and use pale shades of blue or grey.


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