Emphasize career highlights on your resume by using color strategically [free templates]

There are two kinds of resume-reviewers: those who speed-read and those who read for details.

Your resume needs to satisfy both of them. Even if your resume is a one-page stunner or a two-page home-runner, make it so it’s easy for the reader to digest all your best points. Trust us, they’ll appreciate all the thought you’ve put into organizing all that information in a systematic and visually engaging way.

You don’t have to be a pro designer to get it right. You can follow the tips we’ve listed out in this article, based on some of the best accent color resumes out there. Or you can click on the templates we’ve labeled edit this design in Canva to get you started.

01. Combine with Black and White

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Make your life easier when working with color by assigning roles to each color in your palette early on. As a rule of thumb, start out by making one color dominant, one secondary, and one an accent. Make things easier by using black and white as a base and adding in a third color.

When it comes to designing your resume, use white as the background, black for text and the remaining color as an accent. If you’re not sure what this may look like check out Claudia Argueta’s beautiful resume.

02. Use Strategically

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You can use an accent color on your resume to highlight important bits of information or you can also use it to highlight a quirky detail like Yu Xuan does in his resume above. Either way is fine, just be sure to apply color purposefully and not just for the sake of including it in your design.

03. Build Hierarchy

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Use an accent color on your resume to build hierarchy and direct viewers’ attention. We’re naturally drawn to color, so whatever you set in color will jump out first. If you’re not sure where to apply color, consider using it on important dates or headings. In the example above, Linn Hamre uses a lovely blue in just that way and in doing so makes her resume easy to navigate.

Spend less time designing and more time looking hunting for the perfect job by using one of our templates below. If you’re worried that you’ll wind up with the same template as somebody else, use our solutions as inspiration or a foundation to build off of.

04. One Color Only

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Love the accent color you’ve selected? Shine the spotlight on it and use it to design your entire resume, like Kata Farkas does above. Remember, you still want to build hierarchy to make sure information on your resume is easy to navigate. Use different typefaces, weights and point sizes to do so.

05. Colorful Back

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Add color to the backside or header of your resume like Jessica Woods does above. It’s a great way to brighten up your resume without worrying about overdoing it.

06. Use on Design Elements

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Deviate from the norm and add in design elements to your layout instead of using type only. You can use a variety of elements, like icons and shapes, as showcased above or can stick to one kind only.

Use your accent color on them and be mindful of their placement. Make sure they’re strategically placed to help possible employers navigate your info.

07. Feature Illustrations

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If it’s fitting, add in a few fun illustrations to your resume. Above, Alessia Tatulli adds in an illustration of herself instead of a photograph and creates fun icons for her interests instead of listing them. She’s also created icons for each of her abilities.

You can go down the same path and create your own or just add a few illustrations to add visual interest to your resume. Need a little inspiration? Check out what we’ve done below.

08. Go Neon

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Use a neon color as an accent color to add vibrancy to your resume. With this approach, be mindful of the amount of color you’re using—too much neon can strain the eyes.

Follow Francisco Riquelme Bona’s example and use your super bright accent sparingly.

09. Create Balance

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Just like with any other piece, aim for balance when defining the layout of your resume. You can use color, like Julia Miceli does above, as a tool to achieve it.

Not a graphic designer? Check out the options we’ve provided below. They’re perfectly balanced and ready for you to edit and make your own.

10. Combine With Cool Gray

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Resumes are commonly set on white backgrounds. But check out the cool solution above that kicks white to the curb and uses gray instead. Pretty neat, right?

11. Guide the Eye

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As mentioned above, be mindful of where and how you use color. Use it as a tool that helps viewers navigate information, especially when you’re resume is packed with experience.

Consider the example above. Each illustration features a bright color that helps the eye move throughout the layout. They are also placed next to important segments of the resume.

12. Create a Modern Feel

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A modern solution like the one above may not be the best option for all disciplines. However, if it works with yours, give exploring alternative layouts a shot. Your resume will surely stand out in a pile filled with more traditional approaches.

Dig what you see but don’t know how to build it? Edit one of our templates below.

13. Use as a Header Background

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Check out what Ivo Ruijters has done above with his resume. Instead of using color everywhere, he’s limited the use to his resume’s header and a few design elements below.

14. Highlight Important Elements

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Use an accent color to draw attention to important bits of information in your resume. Above, James Wong uses color to draw attention to his name and competencies. You don’t have to do the same, though. Feel free to apply color to whatever piece of content you wish to highlight.

Below, we offer a couple templates you can easily edit. If you like one but don’t wish to use color on the same elements we suggest you do, simply change them around in the Canva editor.

15. Use More Than One

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You’re not limited to just one color. If you like more than one hue, feel free to create a more complex palette for your resume. Above, Stepan Dihich uses a couple colors throughout his Online CV of a Creative Girl template. Be sure to click over to Stepan Dihich’s portfolio to check out his entire layout, his piece is pretty sweet!

16. Try a Soft Color

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Accent colors don’t have to be bright blues or neon yellows. You can go for a soft hue like Emmanuelle Bories does and accomplish the same things as you would using bold color.

If you’re not crazy about bold accents but still want to add a little color to your resume, check out our templates below.

17. Try a Border

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Want to use color on your resume but don’t want to use it on your content? Consider a border. Above, designer Salomé Gautier adds a thing, solid color border to her resume.

Still looking for the border you like? Check out Canva’s frames and borders, easily adaptable to your design.

18. Use Sparingly

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Forget about using color in large quantities and use it sparingly like Priscilla Leung does above. Remember, even in small quantities color will lure in the eye. Be mindful of where you’re using color.

19. Combine with Texture

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Combine an accent color with other design elements, like the cool textures in Inês F Mota’s resume above. I love how she’s used them throughout her entire layout, giving it a modern and unique feel.

20. Try a Color Background

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Finally, use color an accent color as a background for an important section of your resume. This can be the area that contains your contact information or anything else you want to bring out.

Like what you see? We’ve included a couple templates below to make designing your resume a breeze.

Should your resume be only a page long or is it okay to have two pages? The answer is: it depends.

But whether it’s short or long, the important thing is that you highlight your best points and make it so your resume is easy on the eyes with a visual de-cluttering device — like color accents.

Choose your favorite from the selection above and apply your own credentials. Let us know how it works for you in the comments section!

Maria is a professional designer and social media devotee. After a few years of working in boutique agencies in New York and Boston, she decided to trade in her morning runs for morning dives and moved down to the warm Caribbean. She is currently working on becoming a scuba instructor in order to find a way to merge her two loves: design and the ocean.