According to a University of Minnesota study, presenters who use visual aids are 43 percent more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action. This study is part of a body of research that supports the view that visual presentation is more effective than text when it comes to persuasion. Yet the standard résumé has remained unchanged for the past 50 years.
With the advent of computer graphics and easy-to-use web-based design tools, that has begun to change. Recruiters are starting to see more visual résumés. One visual tool that individuals have begun to use in place of, or as a supplement to, a traditional résumé is an infographic.
Carisa Miklusak, CEO of the consulting firm tMedia Strategies, advises using infographics on a résumé to provide a visual summary of skills, experience, results and interests.
“Anytime there is a hard number that is being represented and attached to an employee’s personal performance, an infographic is a powerful way to present that information,” Miklusak points out. Examples of information that lends itself well to a visual presentation are sales, customer service scores and revenue increases. Infographics can also be used to tell a story, such as experience gained in a role or the skills learned on a project.
Delanie West recently used an infographic résumé to land a job as vice president of product development at Faber-Castell of Germany. According to West, visual and infographic résumés are best for creative industries, and “only when you know that your résumé will be viewed initially by a person.”
Many human resources departments are now using scanning software to get job candidates into their databases for subsequent processing. Digital and hard copy résumés are scanned into their applicant tracking system upon receipt and subsequently searched by keywords to see if they match jobs the company is seeking to fill.
“A computer will not be able to record your aesthetically pleasing infographics,” she says.
West suggests having three versions of your résumé — one creative and visual that serves as a combination portfolio and résumé, a standard text, “scannable” résumé and a hybrid résumé incorporating elements of both.
For your initial approach to a company, she suggests using the standard text résumé, unless you are able to get your infographic directly to the hiring manager. When interviewing with the human resources department, you sometimes may want to provide them with the creative and the standard text résumé, but with the hiring manager she advises definitely using the creative version.
Some free tools that can be used to create an infographic are: Easel.ly, Piktochart and Infogr.am. You can also hire a graphic designer to help create a visual résumé. Be sure that the résumé file is small enough to be emailed; many portals used to receive résumés have file size limits, and résumés larger than standard word résumés will be rejected.
Everyone should have a traditional résumé, created as a Microsoft Word document, and a LinkedIn version of that résumé. This document should lay out your jobs, typically in a chronological fashion, and focus on your quantifiable achievements. It should incorporate key words and use a consistent format that specifies companies, job titles and accomplishments, and it should be incorporated into a LinkedIn profile.
You need the Word version to send or upload to recruiters, human resource departments and hiring managers, as well as for people you meet networking. People will not take the time to convert your online résumé into something the database will read, so make it easy for them. In addition, for creative jobs and for jobs where the hiring manager is looking for someone who is technology savvy, a visual infographic résumé is a must.
There is no one correct type of résumé. A résumé is nothing more than a sales tool, and you want to use the format that places you in the best possible light. The format you use will depend on the position you are seeking, the company where you want to work, and the skills and experience that you want to highlight.
Anna Mathieu, marketing communications manager at Redfish Technology, summed it up well: “If you are working in digital art, software marketing, designing website interfaces or are trying to break into a more cutting-edge creative sector, infographics, videos, slideshows may be appropriate. But for most professionals, these are frosting on the cake,” to be used in conjunction with a traditional résumé.
“Before you focus on the frosting, however,” she suggests that you “make sure you’ve got your cake well baked.”
A veteran human resources executive, Lee E. Miller is a career coach and the author of “UP: Influence Power and the U Perspective — The Art of Getting What You Want.” Mail questions to Lee@employability-expert.com