It is no secret that these days, more and more, we notice a clear transition to a new high tech era. It is hard to believe, for example that only a few years ago everybody was using a fax machine, from individuals to small businesses and large corporations. Today, I need a second to even remember how it looked like. All you need is internet connection (or a nice coffee shop with free wi-fi) and a laptop or tablet and you have your own office! Notice that I said a laptop because even the PC is fast becoming a thing of the past.
But where do we stand with our résumé in this new high tech era? Well, a new type has emerged and despite of the controversy it has created, more and more visual résumés appear on the Internet. The question remains whether or not they are successful. It is still to be determined!
What is a resume? Why do we write resumes? According to Wikipedia, “A résumé […] is a document used by individuals to present their background and skillsets. Résumés can be used for a variety of reasons but most often to secure new employment.” This is the key we need to focus on when writing such a document: it helps secure employment! There are 3 conditions visual or not, to get us an interview:
1. To provide the readers with a clear portrait of the job related skills one possesses and the companies are looking for! In Canada and USA you generally have 2 to 3 pages maximum to convince the employer that you have all the skills and some more. Depending on the experience, most of us find it difficult to cram everything in such a short format. It seems foolish to me to occupy space on the page with art, when there are so many more important details that are left out because of lack of space which might make the difference between choosing you and the next candidate. When you can put everything on one page, and still have room to play around, definitely go for bold but smart design that screams Hire me!
2. To contain the keywords and to be in a format that will pass the ATS (applicant tracking system) screening as well as the human eyes screening. That’s the thing: the human eyes, might give a damn about how colourful and innovative your resume is, but as we all know, a growing number of companies use electronic screening or Applicant Tracking System software that doesn’t really care what colour and how cute your picture is! All they do is look to find the keywords they are programmed to, and “pass” or “fail” the résumé. Be careful even when you submit it directly to a human eye! Just imagine yourself as a recruiting manager and having to go through hundreds of visual résumés on a daily base! Not so happy and excited anymore, right? They are too much for the retina and after a few you will be mostly judging the design as opposed to the content.
The way we judge art is a very personal and subjective process. It is definitely something that you can not quantify and bring to a common denominator. As an applicant, with a highly artistic resume you have a 50/50 chance to hit or miss with a recruiter!
3. To assure the employer that you possess a high degree of soft skills. Before 1985 the accent was an astonishing 99% on job related skills. Slowly, the spotlight has moved to the soft skills set an applicant brings in. You might know your job very well and have the experience they need, if your attitude sucks, the next less experienced applicant will get the job. The can-do attitude, team work and communication skills are becoming more important decision factors in the hiring process. Sometimes, it is better not to be that much different than the others – my opinion only. When I look at some of the visual résumés I cannot help but to think that there is the potential of these applicants requiring a bit too much high maintenance. When your name is too big on top of the résumé, it doesn’t really scream “team work” but rather “I am the star”; when the content is lost into too many artistic details, it tells me you might be easily distracted… Every item on a résumé will convey a message about yourself so use them wisely!
But times are changing and so we should too! Will I ever create a visual résumé for myself? Absolutely yes! Actually I am in the process of creating one. I believe there is a way a visual résumé will meet the requirements above to create a unique marketing document.