We’ve all heard the saying, “A picture’s worth a thousand words.” Research shows that recall of information presented through visual images is much better than through words.
Our brains process images 60 thousand times faster than text, while 90% of the information incoming to our brains is visual and 93% of all human communication is visual.
With this in mind and knowing that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, it makes sense to update traditional boring resume formats to include tasteful color, images, and graphics that convey important information in a powerful way.
Communicating with a combination of high-impact text and striking graphics meshes so well with the way our minds work that it can increase the self-marketing power of your executive resume dramatically.
Highly graphic or “infographic” resumes are all the rage in career services circles these days, and they seem to claim most of the awards in resume writing competitions. In a CNBC article early this year, recruitment experts gave their opinions on so-called “creative resumes.”
“Darain Faraz, careers expert at LinkedIn, agreed that being creative doesn’t have to equate to over-the-top artistic flair. A ‘creative CV’ doesn’t necessarily have an outlandish format and a rainbow of color—it just means presenting the information you really want to get across so it stands out from the norm.”
Some creative or graphic resumes tend to resemble social media profiles more than resumes and, in some cases, go over the top with emojis, selfies, pictures and even GIFs. As early as 2014, some were composing their resumes entirely of GIFs!
This type of over-the-top resume is not what is going to be appropriate at the executive level. Instead you’ll want to implement what we know about visual communication in such a way as to enhance appeal while maintaining dignity and gravitas.
The trend toward more graphically oriented executive resumes as we move into the third decade of the 21st century is undeniable. As a matter of fact, this is the first trend I cited in my recent article about Trends that May Affect Your Executive Career in 2020.
You definitely want to your reader to be drawn to the eye appeal of your document and to quickly be able to visualize the ROI and other business impacts of your actions. However, this needs to be done in a way that befits your career level.
Ways to safely accomplish this include:
- Vary fonts, taking care to use no more than two typefaces.
- Employ emphasis… Use consistent bold, italics, bold italics, etc. that follow a logical theme throughout the resume.
- Apply appealing font and background color to set off headings or highlighted information.
- Include pull quotes or sidebars to spotlight certain information.
- Insert a logo or small graphic that represents your industry or job function.
- Communicate financial impacts with simple graphs and charts. (Always making sure that key information also appears in the text, as ATS systems will not read the content in your graph, chart, or text box).
Those in very traditional fields such as finance and law need to err on the side of caution with creative formats, while those executives who are in more visually oriented industries such as advertising, graphic design, online and print publishing, retail merchandising, etc. can be a little more creative with resume format.
In some industries and professions, it may make sense to consider creating an infographic resume in which the information is all presented using a combination of images and text, with the emphasis being on images.
However, it is important to keep in mind that an infographic resume is not going to fare well in today’s ATS systems, so it would be wise if you do this to also prepare a more traditional resume.
The infographic resume in most cases should not replace a traditional resume completely, but it is certainly wonderful to bring to interviews, publish in social media, or attach to email applications (along with your ATS-friendly version).
Surveys show that the typical recruiter or hiring manager may give your resume as little as a seven-second initial scan before deciding whether to move on to the next.
So, it just makes sense to add a touch of creativity to your presentation that will be pleasing to the eye and help them more quickly assimilate your information.
To illustrate the impact that including visual elements to add flair your resume can have, think about your shopping habits.
When you are browsing to make an online purchase, would you be more likely to select the item that comes with vivid images, or one that has only a text description? I know which one I would choose.
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