RESUME FOOD FOR THOUGHT SERIES
UPDATED ON 12/18/2021
Graphics can make any boring document pop. But when it comes to resumes, doesn’t translate to getting hired.
In this second to the last article of The Resume Debates Series, let’s deliberate on the one element that all of us candidates want done: graphics.
For decades, the graphic resume was shunned on because it encouraged discrimination. As time went on, however, graphic resumes became slightly more prominent. We would try to create one ourselves, and when the results look hideous, we left it in the trusting hands of a designer.
Now, google for sample images of resumes, and we will end up with hundreds, if not thousands, of vibrant resumes with professional head shots, icons, and graphics.
Applications such as Canva exist, helping us create the most mind-blowing resumes that are surely easy on the eyes.
But knowing how pictures have been viewed by recruiters thus far and how the automatic tracking system (ATS) works , are they such a good idea?
Graphics vs. No Graphics
I need a raise of hands.
Who would rather read a children’s book full of colorful pictures than an adult novel?
I know I would.
Pictures — pretty or ugly — naturally pull people in because, like the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words”.
What readers forget, however, is the reaction to all those pictures. That’s what really matters. People either go gaga for a Baby Yoda meme or regurgitate at a sighting of Freddy Krueger.
Now, what kind of reaction do we want from recruiters and hiring managers when they see our resumes? What’s more, what will ATS see on our resumes?
In other words, what impression do we want our resumes to give and would graphics promote that?
Resumes serve as expensive real estate.
The placement of every word and divider must deserve its space on the page.
Graphics definitely have their place in the working world. They make complicated concepts into stories that are easier for people to understand. They can put us in the spotlight.
That said, as much as I want to be the next Picasso, I know I am not. I have had more misses than hits in my art. I might choose an image that is too immature. I might choose colors that do not match or are harsh on the eyes. I might choose graphics that are simply unpleasant to look at and that do not reflect the company’s values. To put it bluntly, there is at least a 50% possibility that the graphics I insert into my resume are far from being eye candy. That would put me in the wrong light and project the wrong impression, even if art is subjective.
This includes head shots. Recruiters and hiring managers are still afraid of being accused of discrimination simply because we may believe someone else got the job over us for appearing more attractive. Plus, recruiters can check LinkedIn if they really want to see what we look like.
What about all those star-rating scales that indicate experience level in particular tools? Personally, I find those misleading anyway. I have used Microsoft Excel for 30 years to get it to do what I need it to do when I need it, but I do not know every feature in the software. Does that make me a novice (1-star) or intermediate (3-stars) or expert (5-stars)? Wouldn’t it be more useful to describe how I use Excel rather than claiming stars?
Plus, most of us are not targeting visually artistic positions, so why occupy valuable space with graphics that has nothing to do with our chosen careers?
Even if we are fantastic artists in our own right, know that majority of ATS would not read them. In fact, ATS automatically strips out images, text boxes, tables, and, sometimes, columns upon scanning our resumes. So even if we add them, they will actually leave dead space on the page that could have been used for smart descriptions and meaningful white space.
Of course, if you are actually a visual artist like a graphic designer, then by all means, use your resume as your canvas or part of you portfolio to showcase your work. In this case, criticism regarding your art comes with the territory. Even so, do not just rely on your pictures to do the talking for you. Valuable words recounting noteworthy accomplishments must accompany your resume.
Well, I think you know what my verdict is by now.
It is okay to use colored fonts and dividers on your resume, but unless the targeted profession involves visual arts, just say no to graphics. Not only would it take a non-artist forever to create a graphically pleasing document, but the creation might also be to his/her disadvantage.
Finally, the time has come. Next week will be the most important installment of all in The Resume Debates: the resume itself. Can’t wait.