To visual or NOT to visual, the Resume

I recently reviewed a post on Career Sherpa that listed the ,“10 Reasons You Need A Visual Resume” (link below) and instantly began to think about how many articles I’ve reviewed over the last twelve months that aggressively refute this type of resume and the handful of articles that are popping up in support.

For the sake of an intelligent comparison, let’s look at the reasons:

  1. The Death of the Paper Resume

  2. The Morphing of Job Boards and Resume Databases

  3. The Dreaded Black Hole of Applicant Tracking Systems

  4. The Rise of Referrals

  5. Employer-Candidate Mismatch

  6. Communication Mismatch

  7. The Gig Economy

  8. The Web Becomes a Tool for the Masses

  9. Trend Setters as Trailblazers (CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Freelancers)

  10. The Rise of LinkedIn

Source: CareerSherpa

Now that we’ve reviewed, let’s discuss the points and the dangers associated with embracing this change without proper context. As with anything in life, not simply employment related scenarios, if you move too fast or fail to research, you may find yourself in quite the conundrum so as we determine whether or not the visual resume fits our applying needs, we must first know what those needs are and the industry in which we are searching.

The death of the paper resume and the rise of LinkedIN, as 2016 comes to a close and 2017 begins, we are noticing that the “employee referral” has picked up steam. It’s all about who you know. This concept alone is why we bother to network on social media sites like LinkedIN. Unfortunately, this is not a new trend, knowing someone on the inside has always been the preferred method of application, 25-30% of hires come from referrals. Once you have the attention of the Hiring Manager or Recruiter because of the infamous name drop, your resume will be what determines the next step. In industries that require creativity, a visual resume is ideal.

Creativity is more commonly one of the job requirements. In industries where facts and figures are a key component to determine your knowledge, skills and abilities, a visual aid charting your accomplishments may impress the right people and gain a few extra brownie points. If your interest lies in neither of these industries, your attempts to be clever and set yourself apart may be lost upon the reviewer. You’ll find yourself missing an opportunity because you lost the attention of a captured audience with an overly busy resume.

A resume that doesn’t simplify your abilities in outline but can require a bit of search for those who aren’t necessarily familiar with the format.

In a time where the internet has in fact digitalized everything, making applying simpler, networking simpler, researching simpler and impressing the masses simpler, it should make sense that a visual resume would make the infamous 6 second review, simpler. Paper applications have died unless the company has a distrust for technology.

These companies still require an applicant to come in and complete their application while awaiting their interview or prior to their interview date. These companies still pick up the phone and call employee references as opposed to sending out automated forms.

These companies have values etched in a familial feel and interpersonal interaction. These companies aren’t necessarily behind the times or “ma and pa businesses”, they truly believe that we’ve lost something by making everything easier and will always appreciate the traditional bullet point format that describes where you have been as a candidate.  

The applicant tracking system, the applicant black hole where no matter what type of resume has been created if it is not key word optimized and in the first 25-30% of submissions, no human will review it either way.

This system was created to assist the 250-300 applicants per single job posting gain an advantage or the recruiters actually identify a viable candidate quicker, I’m not really sure about who benefits here but I do know that as long as it is alive and utilized, it will never be visual resume friendly.

As with everything there is a time and place. I have reviewed some amazing visual resumes and intend to add them to my portfolio of offerings but within context. Applying is not a one size fit all activity so job seekers must put in the work and do the research. Read the job descriptions, they often give insight to exactly what the employer is looking for.

Pick up the phone or send an email to a LinkedIN connection or Recruiter at the company of interest and simply ask their preference. Don’t disqualify yourself from the running by assuming that because visual resumes are the new trend, every employer will jump on board.

Just as the internet has digitalized everything, it’s assisted in our increased witness of far more trend fails than successes. Apply smart.

Catherine McNeil

Catherine McNeil has earned a Bachelor’s of Business Administration with a focus in Management from Robert Morris College and holds a Master of Arts in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She excels at new employee training, instruction, supervision and job knowledge in the areas of Customer Service, Leadership, and Administration. She has over fifteen years of experience and applied knowledge from management and leadership roles inside the Collections, Not for Profit, Real Estate and Construction arenas.