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A Passing Trend or the Future? Resume Infographics

Resume Infographics

“Because everything can be reduced to an infographic!”  —Guy Kawasaki

When it comes to infographic resumes, the critics haven’t entirely weighed in yet. Commenters on posts predicting infographics as the resumes of the future point out the difficulty of reading some infographics. Not to mention the fact that certain industries, like accounting and business, may not appreciate the creativity preferring the straight up, cut-to-the-chase resume. So, what are the latest thoughts on the infographic resume, and how can you adapt them to your needs? Here I’ll review the evolution of resume to infographic and suggest some creative ways to put the current resume infographic to work for you.

The Resume in Review, Infographic or Otherwise

Websites offering career tips and advice about resumes far and wide have pounced on the “History of the Resume” chronology, compiled by Todd Lempicke on Optimal Resume, as the best condensed history of the resume. Lempicke attributes the first recorded resume to Leonardo da Vinci. Marc Cendella (of TheLadders.com) actually provides us with a picture of the original document and a translation. Highlights of da Vinci’s personal summary include his ability to build bridges and fighting machines in times of war and sculpture in times of peace. Da Vinci definitely marketed himself well in his self-introductory letter to the Duke of Milan.

Letters of introduction, like da Vinci’s, then morphed into the more formal and somewhat less personal resume we know today, which became standardized in the 1950s. From that point on technology began offering more options for personal marketing: VHS portfolios, resume transmission by fax machine, email, YouTube videos, and the infographic.

The infographic resume really garnered attention, however, when Christopher J. Spurlock’s version was posted on the HuffPost College blog and went viral. Spurlock wanted to work with journalism visualization and soon after his infographic went viral he was was offered a job at the Huffington Post as an infographics design editor (he started in May 2011, according to his current infographic resume).

You Are Here: The Resume Infographic Now

Most recently, the launch of the resume-infographic generator vizualize.me has brought this resume format once again front and center. The hook here is that we, as users, can participate. Give visualize.me permission to access your LinkedIn account and it will arrange that info into a brightly colored graphic rendition of your previously text-only profile (don’t worry, you can calm those colors down a little). Another, though lesser known, resume-infographic generator is re.vu, also recently launched. Re.vu has the added benefit of an analytics generator that tracks data, like the number of hits your infographic receives and the amount of time visitors spend looking at it. Both of these sites offer visually attractive depictions of your life history—you may even see yourself in a different way then you have before.

Other options for creating your resume infographic aren’t quite so easy: put your Illustrator and Photoshop skills to work or hire a graphic designer. But the real question about resume infographics is where can they take us?

Putting That Data Visualization to Work for You

On the crest of Chris Spurlock’s infographic wave, Elana Zak, for mediabistro.com, listed three reasons why you should consider an infographic resume: “1) It demonstrates you “get” multimedia, 2) It shows you’re more than just a writer, 3) It illustrates your creativity.” Though some recruiters and interviewers may not consider you serious if you offer up an infographic resume, posting one alongside your LinkedIn or Google+ profile certainly can’t hurt you. It may draw others to your profile, extending your networking reach. As re.vu says on its website: “Don’t send a resume. Share your story.” Perhaps greater words were never spoken, at least in the marketing industry!

Stretch that Resume Infographic Idea a Little Further

There are other ways to apply the concept of the infographic resume. What if you work for a fresh start-up eager to establish their reputation? Consider an infographic—a business-history infographic. Posting this visual description of your business history on your about us page is far more likely to attract attention than a few paragraphs of dry copywriting. Are you also presenting bios of your founders? How about bio-infographics? Those are sure to highlight the experience they possess and their skill set. A well designed infographic does have the potential to go viral. Finally, consider your client pitch. Could you incorporate some data visualization? Perhaps of the audience you and/or your client are targeting?

So, between the continuing popularity of eye-catching infographics and the visual/viral nature of the web, the resume infographic has many applications, all of which can be taken into the future. Though they may have to accompany some traditional resumes rather than replace them, the resume infographic is a trend that foreshadows the future because one thing is certain: the way we consume data is changing, fast.

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