Visual or infographic reviewed on HR Examiner

Visual Resumes? Not So Much

Information flow is a huge problem. As the pile of social media data swells, companies are going to have an increasingly difficult time parsing all of the stuff. Then the questions of storage and access come into view.

Quickly, the question is becoming how to contain the spiraling costs of recruiting while adequately vetting the candidate.

At the same time, candidates want to be seen as individuals and really want a chance to tell their stories. Much of the verbalized frustration with the ‘black hole’ and bad candidate experience are really articulations of this need to be heard and respected. The systems that make recruiting possible leave a significant hole in this regard.

But, it’s not the company’s job to make every candidate feel good. Respect can be communicated procedurally and transparency can be a part of the process. But, as long as the company can’t control the number of resumes that it receives, it has to manage those resumes as a net resource drain.

And, that’s the problem with the emerging crop of visual resumes: they take longer to digest, they drive costs up. Visual resumes are an attempt to use pictures and images to beef up the story that a resume tells.

Will job hunters love them? Undoubtedly. Will recruiters hate them? Probably. has a very cool interface. You point the tool at your linkedIn profile and it generates your very own personal infographic. does something very similar.

The right place for Visual Resumes is in small settings. If you are trying to get noticed by a little company that doesn’t have enterprise applicant tracking, it might work. The idea is really somewhere between a brochure and a CV so people who need brochures should be able to use the format.

I’m open to hearing someone tell me why these things would work in large companies with Recruiting process automation.

But I just can’t see it.

  • Note: I believe this post was inspired by a tweet I sent you after you tweeted this last night: “Pinterest Pins
    Tim Sackett – Why Pinterest Could Revolutionize HR | Attack Defend
    Disrupt” ->

    Hi John, thanks for taking the time to write about As a co-founder, I’m biased believing that the visual, interactive, and connected form IS the future of resumes. The “why” I believe this is true is pretty important. We are increasingly living in a socially connected world therefore establishing and curating a personal brand backed by social evidence is becoming central to how we show up.

    Don’t believe me? What potential employer doesn’t search for a candidate prior to engagement these days? And when the results appear, who wouldn’t want to have a professional, interactive, accurate, and connected representation of themselves show up prominently in the results?

    Add to that the age-old adage that “a picture is worth 1,000 words” and it becomes much harder to dismiss the form. You get a sense of more than a single dimension of the person. You get a sense of the non-tangible aspects of a person that can make or break a fit from an employment relationship.

    What we’ve discovered thus far is that the HR establishment is resistant to change. This new resume form represents a big change that breaks all the automated tools and systems that produce junk from a recruiting standpoint. Every hiring manager I talk to laments the fact that HR/Recruiters/etc can’t source great candidates. If the systems are so great, why is this true?

    My view is, once you’re in the ATS as a candidate, you’ve lost that opportunity. You are just another one of the herd. The objective of any resume-like approach is to get the candidate directly engaged with the decision maker. If you fail in that, more often than not, you’ve failed as a candidate in that opportunity. Approaches like get candidates noticed by decision makers. i.e. from one of our users:

    “This app may just have gotten me a gig in one of the worst economic environments…” <- it did, he got the job.

    So, does this mean there will no longer be a white piece of paper with a
    chronological list of achievements, employment history, education, etc?
    No, it does not. In fact, on there is a place to host just such a
    document as an addendum though, not as the main event.

    The shift is happening and quickly. We see it just with user growth and the feedback we get from them during their job search. I encourage you to suspend your disbelief, use one of the products (I recommend 😉 and get the experience first-hand. Thanks again for stimulating the discussion and posting this entry.

  • Resumes are marketing. The first rule of marketing is know your audience. If you aren’t creating content with your target audience in mind – the way they work, they way they think, the way they buy, then you are missing the boat. Discovering that HR (a key audience for resumes) is “resistent to change” is a big clue that you are missing your target audience. Which means that, however pretty and interactive,  your marketing material isn’t working.

  • Colin Kingsbury

    This is definitely one of the nicer takes on the “visual resume” that I’ve seen. I think the infographic portion is the strongest as I like the idea of excerpting and quantifying some key things. 

    Picking up on what John and Karen wrote, I think the question is, what problem does this solve on the employer side? Recruiters and managers alike both agree that the resume does not paint anywhere near a complete picture of a candidate. I’m not sure that’s a problem technology can solve. I will say that in my most recent round of recruiting, I think video presentations might have been useful–not full interviews, but even just 30-90 second “here’s me” kind of things. But mention video resumes and a lot of HR folks get eeo-spasms, with some justification.

  • I think the real challenge for both recruiters and candidates, as John puts it, is information flow. There is a wealth of information to be found online on each of us, and we’re kidding ourselves if we think recruiters aren’t Googleing candidates name to learn more. The problem is this is an inefficient process and requires more time on the part of the recruiter. Not to mention, it’s almost impossible to manually gather and consolidate this information from multiple sources.

    There 2 important pieces required to solve this problem. 

    1. A way for candidates to more effectively tell their work story. This is more than just a pretty resume with pictures. It gathers and consolidates all relevant work information including bios, social profiles, blogs, tweets, press release quotes, news articles etc. This allows a candidate to show much more about them then any resume ever could. Eg. Have you even wondered what Steve Jobs’ resume would look like? He was a college dropout and was fired from the company he founded. Not that impressive. But if you Googled him, you would learn how he effectively changed the world for many us through technology.

    2. A way for recruiters to more effectively search the work stories of candidates. Having access to an extended candidate profile with the above elements is not much help if you can ‘t effectively use it to find better candidates matches. It just becomes information overload. Recruiters require an intelligent search capability to leverage all this additional candidate data to make finding the perfect candidate faster and easier.

    The 2 pieces above I feel could solve the information flow challenge. Candidates could share more information about what makes them who they are and recruiters could leverage this information to find better candidate matches. These are just 2 of the elements we’ve incorporated into our Talementy Talent Generation suite. 

  • John:


    It was fun interviewing you on
    Compassionate HR last week.  Recently, I interviewed one of the
    co-founders of  I’ve also been doing extensive research about the
    phenomena of infographic resumes and portfolios.  This research will be
    published in my book HireFriday 3.0.


    While it can be argued it’s the flavor of
    the week, this trend isn’t going way (at least not yet).  As the
    technology gets more sophisticated, people are going to clamor to find new ways
    to be seen, viewed, and noticed.  Remember, we now live in the
    short-attention span world. (see this article:”>Jorie O’Dell: How To Turn Your Resume Into A Gorgeous Web Based Infographic).  


    Back in 2010 when I started HFChat, one of my first co-moderators, Jen Pedde created one of the first infographic resumes that helped her get her first job in social media.  It was so good, not only did she land her job, her infographic resume was published on Mashable.  Sharlyn Lauby wrote about infographic resumes on Mashable last year.  The first infographic resume template I saw was by Do You Buzz in 2009.  Now, the market is starting to explode with them.  The technology is now allows candidates to distribute their resumes on multiple social channels., are my favorites. (It’s very easy to use:  Some of the tools I explored were very difficult to use, and I would not recommend them.People are clamoring for attention in a very noisy media channel. As the job market stiffens, people are getting more aggressive to compete for eye balls.As a recruiter, there’s a part of me that
    says, oh boy, information overload, this is just one more thing I have to read.
     I don’t care if you are black, blue, and wear spots…if you are the
    perfect fit the job, and culture, I want to talk to you.  Then there’s the
    conservative side of me who’s worked in highly regulated industries that says,
    this won’t fly, nor will it fit.  It depends on an organization’s culture.  However, the new sophisticated
    infographic resume tools have conservative templates that can make you look
    extremely professional, so infographics are not just for artistic types


    A recruiter just wants the facts.
     They are looking for the square peg in the square hole.  The hiring
    manager wants the best candidate for the job.  The HR Director wants to
    mitigate risk.  The compliance department wants to keep the company out of
    court.  Somewhere in the mix is the truth.  Is the market for
    candidates who use infographic resumes tiny as you suggest?  Or is it a trend
    that we should notice?  Is it a blip on the radar screen in our over
    exposed world of social media fatigue, or is this a small, energized movement
    taking root?


    If you are a candidate, you should have
    an ASCII text resume that can be easily parsed in an ATS and Job board. You
    should have a conservative representation of your skills.  You should have
    a handsome formatted resume to bring with you to networking interviews.
     You should keep a portfolio of your best work.   A smart candidate
    will also want to have their resume beautifully crafted and displayed on their
    blog, or on Visual CV, in a cloud, or stored in the cloud of one of the
    infographic vendors. 


     In other words John, a candidate
    wants to be seen, period.  More importantly, they want to be acknowledged,
    interviewed and hired.  Companies don’t have the time to pour over each resume
    that may be true.  Doesn’t that make an even better case for having an
    infographic resume to be the eye-catching candidate in this 10-second attention
    world of ours?


    My research suggests that this is more
    prevalent in the artistic industries, but this trend is getting traction with
    traditional as well as in non-traditional industries.


    How do we fight the onslaught of the
    short attention span theater?  A candidate only has a matter of moments to
    catch the eye of a recruiter, let alone a decision maker.


    Yesterday, we discussed the efficacy of
    infographic resumes on #HFChat  Kevin Dugan, (@PRBlog:disqus ) Marketing Director of
    Empower Media was our guest host.  Needless to say, this was an
    invigorating exchange of divergent viewpoints.  Here’s the transcript of
    our conversation: Suffice it to say, the jury is out as to the number of
    candidates that will use this technology.  I’d argue that this is a trend
    we should watch.  The company that will be the most successful will be the
    one who can use this new technology as a way to allow not just the creation of
    an infographic resume, but to also deploy it to multiple online distribution


    This technology isn’t new John.
     Mashable and others have been using it since 2009.  In 2012, it’s
    getting better.  Today, I saw an example of 7 cleverly crafted resumes
    found on Pinterest.  Where will it be in 2013 and beyond?


    Let’s not sneeze at this just yet.
     Let’s keep an open mind and consider that this might just keep getting
    better and better.


    Yours truly,


    Margo RoseFounder Of HireFriday and HFChatHost of Compassionate HR


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  • I think they can work in large companies if one of two things happen:

    1) If there’s a standard resume backup (you’ll need than in the short term to apply using current systems, OR

    2) ATSs develop technology that can parse the content with Google-like algorithms that can take keywords from images and videos and translate it. This exists but isn’t used widely,

    More importantly though, who cares about recruiters? They’re not reading or using these things. The hiring manager or average Joe company worker is. They then take it to the recruiter and say “check out this person.”

    This isn’t about recruiters (newsflash–it almost never is). It’s about marketing, and how these are a way to engage and garner interest. If technology catches up we can then eliminate the standard resume. But until we do, recruiters ignoring visual options are, as usual, buried in process.

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