Use color to get your next job — but not in your resume

Your resume should be black and white, but there are places in your job search to use color to represent your personal brand.

The days of black-and-white TV are way in the past. It seems that everything around us is in vibrant color, yet most resumes and other career-marketing tools I see are devoid of color. Color is a valuable tool in your personal branding toolbox that will help express your brand attributes and create emotional connections with hiring managers and recruiters. It’s the most effective element in your personal brand identity system for standing out in a job search, but to be truly effective, you must use it consistently.

So how can you use color in your job search?

First, a word of caution: When I suggest that you use color, I am not recommending making your resume look like a giant rainbow, nor should you use color just for the sake of it. You must make a focused plan on how you will employ color as a tool to stand out and bolster your brand. Of course, you must first identify the color that best represents your personal brand. It’s not about choosing your favorite color; it means selecting the color that bolsters your personal brand message. You can watch this video and see below for some ideas:

What color best expresses your personal brand attributes? If you don’t know your personal brand attributes, you can get those who know you to share their feedback with this complimentary assessment:

Here’s a brief summary of colors and the attributes they convey:

  • Red. Use red to express action, passion, power or courage:
  • Orange. Use orange to express determination, encouragement, strength or productivity:
  • Yellow. Use yellow to express optimism, positivity, energy or vision:
  • Green. Use green to express the environment, calmness, growth or rebirth:
  • Blue. Use Blue to express trust, reliability, integrity or truth:
  • Purple. Use purple to express luxury, spirituality, inspiration or dignity:

Once you know what color reinforces your brand attributes, you can start to use it consistently in the job search process.

Here are 10 ideas for how to use color effectively:

  1. Use it consistently on all Web sites where you can customize the look (for example, YouTube lets you choose the color palette for your channel).
  2. Apply it to your Web site, blog or video blog, if you have one.
  3. Use your brand color as the background for your head shot or avatar.
  4. Add a stripe of color below your name and contact details on your resume.
  5. Use a colored envelope to send your cover letter and resume.
  6. Buy colored stationery to use for thank-you notes.
  7. Wear it. If you have a signature color, incorporate it into every outfit.
  8. Use it in your video bio — either as a background color and/or for the intro/outro.
  9. Use it on items you will bring to an interview (your briefcase, pen, mobile phone cover, etc.).
  10. Include it in your e-mail signature.