Photo Credit: katmeresin via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: katmeresin via Compfight cc

Hannah Morgan, someone I respect very much in the career coaching/resume development world, has written a great article about making your resume an Infographic Resume.

She makes the case for infographic resumes, while issuing a caution at the end of the article that Applicant Tracking Systems can’t decipher most infographic resumes.

That caution is the reason I don’t believe everyone needs an infographic resume.  Everyone does need a simple Word resume.  Simply-formatted Word resumes are currently the only resumes that can be read by all Applicant Tracking System.

Applicant Tracking Systems are the computerized systems into which you submit your application.  Anytime you submit a resume online, you are submitting to an Applicant Tracking System or ATS.  So clearly they are everywhere.  And even if you are plucky and determined enough to get your resume to an individual in a company, you’ll probably have to apply online as well.  This article gives the basic stats on ATS use in 2014, and it’s only gone up.

An ATS is set up to read key words in your resume and cover letter, often by section.  Most of them are structured to read “Summary” or “Profile” sections, “Experience” and “Education” sections as well as other sections including “Volunteer Work,” “Publications,” and so on.  Within those sections, the ATS searches for relevant key words, as programmed by the person managing the ATS.  The key words come from the job posting. See this article about how to make sure your resume “works with” an ATS. One simple tip: start by listing your employer’s name, then your title and then dates.  Systems look first for where you worked; if you start by listing work dates, the ATS will not capture what you did.

This article from Quintessential gives much more detail about ATS, as does this one from BigInterview and this one from Lifehacker.

ATSs don’t like graphs or charts or even tables.  They don’t read jpg or gif images. These things confuse the ATS and so it rejects the resume that confused it. They ignore headers and footers.  This article contains some tips on how to maximize your chances of getting through the ATS and into an interview.

OK, got it.  Simple Word resume.  But, you say, “those infographic resumes look so cool!  I loved Marissa Mayer‘s (CEO of Yahoo! at the time).  And Elon Musk’s!  Can I get one like that?” 

I tell my clients that I don’t do that kind of resume, at least not yet.  I first need to master the software offered by Venngage or others.  And Marissa Mayer and Elon Musk can use this kind of resume because:

  1. they are so well-known that they certainly won’t be submitting via ATS, and
  2. they are so well-known that readers unconsciously apply all kinds of context to the very brief content, filling out the resume themselves.

If you are as well-known as Marissa Mayer and Elon Musk, you too can afford to have only a 1 page infographic resume.

For the rest of us, there are a few people who do need an infographic resume as well as a Word resume, and there are times when all of us might want one.  Who needs an infographic resume?  People looking for jobs as:

  • Graphic Designers
  • Art Directors
  • Creative Directors

I can’t think of others, but maybe you can.  These positions abound in web development, advertising, branding, design, architecture, and other creative fields.

The reason these people need an infographic resume is to show mastery of digital design, a required skill for any of these positions.  Demonstrating this skill can be done by handing the interviewer an infographic resume.  Remember though, you’ll get the interview via your plain old Word resume.   This article talks about what makes a great infographic resume and gives 3 examples of good ones.

If you have a career story that you think can be told via an infographic resume, by all means go for it.  Base it on your Word resume.  Read the articles I’ve cited.  Try the Venngage template or one of the others listed in Hannah Morgan’s article here.  Get market feedback, meaning ask colleagues and friends what they think of it.

  • Can they read it?
  • What messages are they getting?
  • Are those the same messages you intended to send?

Revise, and retest; continue the process until you have something that clearly and simply visually conveys your career story.