Should you use colour on your CV? (2023 Guide) - CV Plaza

Should you use colour on your CV? (2023 Guide)

author Sobhan Mohmand, Career Expert         date 24 March 2023

Using colour on a CV

Contrary to popular belief, CVs do not necessarily have to be black and white. Adding a touch of colour to your CV can make it more visually appealing, modern and help it stand out from other applicants.

However, it is important to use colour appropriately and sparingly, depending on the industry and the specific job you are applying for.

In more traditional industries, such as law or finance, it is best to stick to a more professional black and white colour scheme. In other industries, such as design or marketing, it is acceptable to use colour to enhance your CV.

Table of contents

What makes a CV good?

It’s important to remember that the content and organisation of your CV are much more important than whether it’s colourful or not.

Your CV should be well-designed, easy to read and effectively showcase your skills, qualifications and work experience.

You should spend more time on getting these aspects right before you start thinking about making it more visually appealing to the reader.

Example of a traditional CV (black and white)

A CV has traditionally been black and white.

Employers are used to seeing monochrome CVs and prefer their conservative format and presentation. After all, it’s the content that really matters, right?

Below is an example of a traditional CV in black and white:


Example of a modern CV (colour)

Over the past few years, there has been a steady increase in applications accompanied by more colourful CVs from all industries.

The use of colours on these CVs is typically minimal, mainly applied to the headings and not the main content of the document.

Example of a modern CV that utilises colour:


Is it OK to use colour on my CV?

Yes. Using a moderate amount of colour on your CV has many benefits; it will help grab the attention of the recruiter, organise the information on your document and show your creativity, skill and personality to the recruiter.

1. Helps to grab the attention of the recruiter

It is scientifically proven that seeing colours stimulate the human brain and releases positive hormones. Recruiters receive hundreds of CVs, so a touch of colour can send positive vibes and help your CV stand out from the rest.

A well-designed, visually appealing document is more likely to grab the attention of the recruiter and make a positive first impression.

2. Helps to organise the information

Colour can be used to better structure and organise the information on your CV, such as headings, achievements or skills. It will break up the text of your document, draw the recruiter’s attention to the most critical parts of your CV and make it effortless for them to scan and read it.

3. Shows creativity, skill and personality

Using colour can also show your creativity and personality, especially when applying for jobs in the arts, creative, design or marketing industries.

It demonstrates to the recruiter that you have taken the time to create a well-designed document that is both visually appealing and effective.

Guidelines for using colour on a CV

As previously stated, using colour on your CV can help you capture the attention of a potential employer and make your CV stand out from the other applicants. However, it is essential to use it appropriately and sparingly.

1. Do what is acceptable in your industry

Whether using colour on your CV is a good or bad idea is largely determined by the job/industry you are applying for.

In some industries, such as finance, IT or law, a more traditional and conservative approach is necessary. Using colour on a CV may not be seen as appropriate and could harm your chances of securing a job interview. In these industries, it is best to stick to a black and white or grey colour scheme.

In more creative fields, such as advertisement, media, fashion or design, the correct use of colour can be the secret ingredient for enhancing your CV. Jobs in these industries usually require a high level of creativity, originality and “thinking outside the box.” Professionals working in these fields include graphic designers, fashion designers and creative directors.

2. Less is more

Your CV is an important business document and its purpose is to convey information about you to the prospective employer. It is not meant to be cute, colourful or entertaining but factual, polished and professional.

Using too many colours can make your CV look cluttered and distracting. Stick to one or two colours and use them consistently to maintain a professional look.

As a rule of thumb, use colour on your CV as sparingly as you would use salt in a dish! Preferably, just for headings, subheadings and minor design features.

3. Double-check the appearance of your printed CV

Print out a copy of your CV in black and white to see whether your CV will also look good in black and white, not just in colour. This is because many employers may print your CV out with a black and white printer.

What are the best colours to use on my CV?

When using colour on your CV, it is best to stick to muted or neutral colours such as black, white, grey, navy blue, dark green and dark orange/brown.

Examples of acceptable colours to use on a CV:

Best colour scheme to use for a CV

Avoid using bright or flashy colours as they are irritating to the eyes, particularly bright red, light blue or yellow.

Whichever colour you decide to use, ensure that it complements the content of your CV and does not detract from it.

Should I use colour on my CV?

In most cases, yes. The correct use of colour on your CV can give it flair and style, improves its visual attractiveness and makes it stand out from the other “dull” CVs.

However, whether you should or shouldn’t use colour on your CV largely depends on your industry, personal style and preference.

If you’re applying for a job in a creative industry, it is recommended to use appropriate colour and design to improve the visual presentation of your CV.

If, on the other hand, you are applying for a job in a traditional, business-oriented industry, then it is advisable to stick to a traditional black and white colour palette and use formatting techniques such as bold or italicised text to draw attention to important information on your document.

Ultimately, the most important thing is to ensure that your CV is well-designed, easy to read and effectively showcases your qualifications and experience. If you do choose to use colour on your CV, make sure it is used sparingly and appropriately to enhance the readability and impact of your CV.

Good luck with your job hunt!

Written by Sobhan Mohmand
Sobhan is a qualified Careers Advisor and Professional CV Writer with over 10 years of experience in helping job seekers get a job. He is a Member of the Careers Development Institute (CDI) and is listed on the official UK Register of Career Development Professionals. He holds a Level 6 Diploma in Career Guidance and Development (QCF).