more terrible ideas: your resume should not be an infographic

Your resume should not be presented as an infographic.

This is a terrible, terrible idea.

First, it means that your design goals end up trumping quantity and quality of information. In the examples I’ve seen, there’s far less information than on a traditional resume, because it needs to be fit into the constraints of the design.

Second, it’s hard to get the info I need quickly. I’m scanning your resume for just a few seconds when I first look at it, and I want to see the stuff I want in the place I expect to see it. I do not want to have to stop and examine your entire graphic to try to understand how it’s organized and where I can find what I want.

Third, it looks cheesy.

Fourth, it looks like you thought, “Oh, here’s a way for me to stand out!” rather than that your qualifications can stand on their own. (And unsurprisingly, I’ve never received one of these from a highly qualified candidate.)

Fifth, if you also happen to be including a word cloud, you have just caused both of us — me and you — additional pain. You must never, ever give into any temptation you might feel to include a word cloud on a resume.

If you’re applying for a job as an infographic-designer, maybe an infographic resume might be a good thing to do. For anything else, for the love of god, do not do this.

{ 162 comments… read them below }

  1. koppejackie*

    THANK YOU. I’m incredibly annoyed by these and couldn’t figure out why. I think you answered that for me.

    1. koppejackie*

      Also, has anyone else seen the Amazon resume? Everyone thinks that’s great, but I think it’s gimmicky.

          1. LMW*

            That worked because he worked in advertising. He was actually demonstrating industry expertise. Wouldn’t work for anyone else (and anyone else in advertising might find it derivative instead of creative).

            1. -X-*

              The problem isn’t that design goals trump the quality of information – good design is about communicating information clearly.

              The problem is that there are norms for particular types of communication, and this is outside the norm. People reading resumes need consistency, not what might be the strongest was to make clear what a particular person has done with his/her life.

      1. Anon*

        But he SAID (grain of salt) he’s gotten job offers as a result, which is terribly depressing to me. So this is what hiring managers want and care about? Count me out then.

        1. Natalie*

          The Paul Ryan school of resume writing!

          In seriousness, I suppose marathon completion might be fine in an “other achievements” area, especially if the time is good. Marathons require training and dedication to complete, after all. But like the Eagle Scout question yesterday, if I included it I wouldn’t devote more than a few words.

  2. Lisa*

    Your resume should never provoke the hiring manager to say “WTF?”, but also keep in mind that this stuff tends to get thrown away before the hiring manager ever sees it. Sure my co-workers would huddle around the resumes with pictures and critique past jobs, schools, and give our opinion before the owner ever saw the resume. Guess what we did to the pretentious cover letter ones? We wouldn’t let the owner look at them. Of course, we would ask his wife (who also worked there) if we could toss a resume. She would crumble it up after handing it to her with a “do we have to give him (her husband) this one?”. She would glance at it, scoff, and crumble. How do you know your stand-out resume doesn’t get tossed by someone that collects the resumes on behalf of the hiring manager / boss?

    It may not be right, but it still happens, tho I think more so on the smaller biz scale.

    1. Kat M*

      When I worked in an office (briefly, before discovering it bored me to tears), I made sure all resumes made it to my boss … but not before they’d been marked up in red pen with all their spelling errors corrected.

      Secretaries totally rule the world.

    2. Mike C.*

      This comes off as really unprofessional. It’s one thing to scan for qualifications, but this seems really petty.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I’m going to agree (on the throwing away, not on the marking up spelling errors). I think it’s useful for people to know that this does happen, but I think it’s also important to point out to anyone doing it or watching others do it that this isn’t cool.

        By all means, don’t pass along resumes that you don’t think your boss would want to see (if you’ve been given that authority), but crumbling up people’s resumes and throwing them away because you deem them pretentious does indeed come across poorly. And those people should be receiving rejections, not silence, which will be hard to do if their materials are in the trash.

    3. businesslady*

      if you were able to crumble up those resumes, the real issue was the people who were applying for jobs via decorated cookies.

      (I know, I’m sure you meant “crumple.” )

      1. Min*

        I was picturing really old and yellowed parchment-type paper. I’m loving the cookies so much more!

      2. BW*

        If I ever become a hiring manager type, I will insist all resumes be submitted written in frosting on cookies.

  3. Sascha*

    I think you have a typo: You must ever, ever give into any temptation you might feel to include a word cloud on a resume.

    So you’re saying always give in? Yes ma’am! :)

  4. Sascha*

    The ONLY time I would consider this is a graphic design job…and even then, proceed with caution. There are some companies that need designers but they don’t want anything flashy or gimmicky. Besides, I think I can demonstrate my skills much better with my portfolio.

    And a word cloud? Ick.

    1. VictoriaHR*

      I was totally shocked that the hiring manager here LIKES gimmicky resumes for the graphic design openings that she has. Then again, I’ve never hired for GD’s or creatives before.

      1. RB*

        I’ve recruited creatives for movies, design and other visual effects. The industry wants to see a one page resume, no funny stuff and attach a link to your reel or portfolio.

        I teach resume writing in my volunteer life and you wouldn’t believe the arguments I get from the lower level creatives insisting that their resume show off their mad design skills. Crazy.

    2. bo bessi*

      I hire architects and graphic designers. A little design is nice to see, but it can very easily cross into over-the-top territory. I would definitely advise against a word cloud. Wow.

  5. Kat M*

    Really, when you look at most of those examples of visual resumes, they’re almost always for graphic designers. For someone in design to come in with a Microsoft template resume in Times New Roman would be about as bad as someone applying for an accounting position who couldn’t keep their bullet points straight.

    A nice font will make you look polished and show off your attention to detail, yes. But going too far beyond that says “I’m unable or unwilling to communicate effectively in a traditional format,” which probably isn’t the sort of message you want to send.

    1. Rana*

      No, especially since a good designer also knows when a simple, straightforward approach is called for. If all they know how to do is BIG! FANCY! QUIRKY! and you get a more sedate client, it’s not going to work.

    1. Sascha*

      Oh yes, that’s important to consider. Just imagine trying to make it work for all those applications that want you copy and paste your resume into a plain text field.

  6. Amouse*

    People actually do this?! What in heavens can they be thinking?? Unless you’re an artist of some sort and are specifically asked to showcase your best qualities in a design -which would still a be really weird request -I can see no other place for this anywhere on a resume.

  7. Anonicorn*

    Gah! Why can’t people use a professional Word/pdf resume and leave the graphics and design examples in their portfolio or on a webpage where they belong?

    1. Bob*

      Ugh no. Plain Text please.

      Word is not portable. PDF is a pain to read and breaks the word flow. Just send it in a simple plain .txt file.

      1. fposte*

        Yeah, I wouldn’t advise a candidate to send a .txt file unless the ad requested it. And I’m curious about what you mean about a PDF breaking word flow–are you copying and pasting out of it?

        1. BW*

          I keep a txt file for easy copy/paste into an online application, but I would never send it unless specifically requested. Good formatting makes a resume easier to read and brings out key information. You can’t do that as effectively in plain text.

          1. AJ-im-Memphis*

            Exactly – I always want to see how someone would organize their data for the type we’d need them to do. It’s good measure of organizational skills, grammar and formatting. — At least for me.

      2. BeenThere*

        Really? I use PDF’s they look and print the same as a word document any one can read them without having to own an expensive piece of software. They have the added bonus that I can secure them from people copying and pasting information.

        Plain text is awful, I have to read system logs and sometime raw scripts and every single time I copy out the info into an editor that will format it nicely.

        1. Anonymous*

          I agree with the PDF’s being better but do be aware that electronic PDF printers (e.g. not scanning a copy from paper) usually allows the recipient to copy from it just as easily as a word document.

          I have copied an entire PDF and pasted it into a Word document before and then edited it (For real reasons, not bad ones!)

          1. Rana*

            As an editor, I do similar manipulations all the time. You can password-lock a PDF, yes, but that’s sort of paranoid, honestly.

            Speaking of format, I work cross-platform and with people who have programs ranging from the very newest and some incredibly old and creaky. Everyone, on both Macs and PCs, can handle .rtf and .doc.

            PDFs can get funky (Preview, for example, likes to strip out layers and annotations). If you don’t know what software the person has on the other end, go with .doc, and maybe .rtf to be safe. The less formatting there is to mess up, the more likely your document will appear on the other end looking like you expected.

            1. fposte*

              .doc, then, because .rtfs always end up wanting me to convert in some way that I never remember right and then look hideous.

            2. twentymilehike*

              Everyone, on both Macs and PCs, can handle .rtf and .doc.

              The problem I have with .doc is that now a large portion of people are ending up with .docx, and not everyone can open a .docx. I was JUST updated with Office 2010 and Every. Time. my boss sent me a document I’d have to reply and tell him I needed him to save it in .doc instead of .docx so that I could open it. Also, about a third of my office uses Macs, and they formmatting is never the same when we open each others documents. I’ve never had problems with PDFs, and I’m a big fan because we have so many platforms and different versions of programs, that I need something that everyone can open.

              1. fposte*

                Yes, I think Rana deliberately used “.doc” in her statement for that reason. But you can save to .doc in new Word (and also, there’s for free conversions).

              2. Rana*

                There should be some upgrade or plug-in you can use to handle the .docx files (which, yeah, I basically agree about the annoyance of). The version of Word I’m currently using is old (2004 for Mac; eventually I’ll upgrade, but right now this version does more of what I want than the newer ones, sigh) but it can handle .docx files.

                I think, ultimately, that this is why it’s best to have minimal formatting whenever possible, because you never know what weirdness is going to happen on the other end of things. The advantages, such as they are, of .doc and .rtf are that they are pretty stupid, early-tech formats in widespread use, and thus less likely to give trouble than the newer or more obscure ones.

                1. Julie*

                  FYI: Microsoft also has a free converter for Office 2007 files that need to be read in Office 2003 applications. It’s called Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack.

                2. Jen in RO*

                  Yep, all Word 2007+ files (except .dotx – template files) can be opened in Word 2003 with the compatibility plugin. Not ideal, but at least it works. (It’s beyond me why it doesn’t also work for template files, though…)

                  Also, ohhh, subscription for comments!

                3. Jamie*

                  This is what I was coming to post. Years ago when most of our external contacts had switched to 2007 I gave everyone who mostly reads files the converter and upgraded those who send files externally.

                  Speaking of which, have you guys seen Office 2013 yet? I need darker sunglasses just to make a Word doc – wow is that background bright!

                4. twentymilehike*

                  Years ago when most of our external contacts had switched to 2007 I gave everyone who mostly reads files the converter and upgraded those who send files externally.

                  Dear Jamie … come work with me . Oh how I wish we had an IT department here ….

                  And PS: the new comment options are fantastic :)

            3. Your Mileage May Vary*

              The reason I use .pdf (unless specifically requested not to) is that I’m afraid someone will open my .doc or .rtf file and accidentally erase something and then save it to their computer. Then every time they look at it, they won’t be getting the whole picture.

              Perhaps I’m over-sensitive but I’ve worked with too many people who seem to have no idea their cursor is on their screen for a purpose.

    2. jesicka309*

      My CV was made with Visual CV dot com, as when I was graduating from my media degree and was making it up as part of a class, it allowed me to have a sidebar with links to my showreel and portfolio. It also allowed me to download my CV into PDF format. While the PDF format comes up as 4 pages (because of indentation issues), I really like the look of it, and I always get compliments on how easy to read my CV is. Knowing that the format tends to stretch the number of pages forces me to be really careful about what I use my space for, though I don’t include my show reel or portfolio any more as I’m applying for sales/marketing, not media production nowadays.

      If I could somehow have the same format as my Visual CV as a .doc, I’d do it in a heartbeat. But I’ve never had the time or patience to sit there figuring out my tabs and indents and headings. I get annoyed when jobs ask for .txt or .doc only, because I always think ‘why can’t you open a pdf? Are your computers running Windows 1997? What do you do when a client sends you a pdf, reply saying “oh sorry, can we have your proposal as a ‘txt file?'” and I suddenly reconsider applying.

      1. Rana*

        I guess the question to ask yourself is whether it’s more important that your resume be the way you like it, or whether it’s more important that it will be read.

        My own philosophy on the matter is that content and basic clarity matter most, and making it easy for your audience to access your information is part of that.

        There are a lot of reasons why people prefer .txt or .rtf or .doc over PDF that don’t have to do with their software (though software can be part of it).

        Think about the message you’re sending here: that your time is more important than that of the people you’re contacting, and your format preferences are more important than theirs as well.

        It may be worth your time figuring out how to reformat your CV into other file types (once done, updating would be easy later), or consider paying someone to do it for you, if this is a regular problem and you’re really that committed to your existing layout.

    1. AJ-im-Memphis*

      LOL – I love the big “J” in the upper left corner! Thanks for posting this!! I had never even heard of this before. Sometimes too much is just too much!

    2. Henning Makholm*

      I’d never let that guy design a transit network for me, that’s for sure.

      No interchanges between the three lines, even though they cross each other in the city center? At the very least, the green line should get a stop at MS Office where it passes right next to the yellow line platforms. And actually, what’s the deal with having no intermediate stops on the green line at all? It will take people only between the suburbs, via a long pointless detour? The terminal where the red line Connected shuttle connects to the main red line lacks a name, and what about running some of the rush hour Connected trains through to Social Media Intern — or at least to University Relations with matching transfers to trains from Founder.


      1. BW*

        To be fair, the real Green Line *is* a long pointless detour. Removing the intermediate stops from where it branches out west would be an improvement.

        For people who aren’t familiar, this was modeled on the Boston MBTA system. Here is the real (and totally not to scale) MBTA map for comparison.

          1. Meg*

            Ha, glad there are other people who have lived in Boston jumping in to say yes, our transit map is… special, hehe.

      2. MLE*

        Bahaha! I live on the green line in Boston and can assure you that it has FAR TOO MANY intermediate stops in real life ;-)

    3. Rana*

      Oh, man, I have so many rants about QR code bandwagon jumpers.

      The “teal deer” version: think about whether it’s appropriate in the context, and for your audience.

      To me, those codes say “trendy gimmick” rather than “source of useful information I want to know.”

      1. twentymilehike*

        Oh, man, I have so many rants about QR code bandwagon jumpers.

        You and me both, Rana!! My boss has insisted they be on Everything. Even our business cards. Most people I’ve talked to about them tell me they don’t scan them. I don’t personally scan them because it’s just too much of a PITA to whip out my phone, navigate to a scanning app, and then try to stand still while it thinks about scanning. And half of the time I’ve tried them, they links are broken. Grr.

    4. AgilePhalanges*

      Love the comments on the impracticality for an actual transit system, but I’ve just got to know what on earth “rapid ambition” is supposed to mean. I mean, how can you be ambitious FASTER?

  8. Catherine*

    If you are trying to showcase your creativity, a word cloud is the opposite of that – because all you have to do is pop your words into a generator. Unless you sat for hours in front of Photoshop, carefully places your words…but I have no way of knowing that and will assume you spent 30 seconds running it through a generator.

    1. Amouse*

      Oh man…people just auto-generate these? Ok I retract my earlier statement about the only usage I can see being in graphic arts and only if specifically asked. This doesn’t belong anywhere in the hiring process.

      1. Catherine*

        Yep, for a while my office was crazy about them and everyone put one on their doors. I see them mostly at baby showers now. So that’s another black mark for me – if your resume reminds me of baby shower decorations…

        1. A Teacher*

          my district spent $127 on a binder for each teacher with all 8 kinds of word clouds (concept maps in education)…

        2. Rana*

          Or scrap-booking. I have nothing against scrap-booking – I appreciate the work that can go into a well-planned one – but unless you’re applying to work for Martha Stewart, your resume shouldn’t look like one.

  9. Mike C.*

    Now wait a second here. The whole point of an infographic is to display a ton of complicated information such that it can be absorbed quickly and in context. Why is this such a terrible thing for a hiring manager who has to look through hundreds of resumes for a single job posting?

    If they’re done poorly that’s one thing, but I’m getting a serious whiff of, “those kids!” here. Maybe there are just a ton of poorly done ones, but I’m willing to bet that the format of a resume could be vastly improved by using these techniques.

    1. K*

      But most infographics in other contexts are pretty useless as well, to be honest. The ones that work well are conveying information that can quickly and easily be presented graphically – usually numerical information. People’s qualifications don’t work like that. I guess if you were in a highly quantitative profession, you might be able to present graphs of your performance or something like that, but for most of us, I have a hard time seeing how that could work.

    2. Anonicorn*

      I do get where you’re coming from, but a person’s skills and experience isn’t “complicated information.” Treating it as such, and creating any sort of graphic representation of it, seems to increase complexity rather than simplify it.

      1. Mike C.*

        Increased complication means you aren’t doing it right. And I get that lots of folks are just drawing pretty pictures, but there are folks out there who are doing these right, Tuffte comes to mind.

        Frankly, I think these techniques would be great in pulling together how one’s experience ties directly to the job one is applying for.
        Maybe they won’t work in all cases, but dismissing every case out of hand as a gimmick is a great way to ignore people who might actually be on to something and an asset to the company.

        1. fposte*

          If you’re hiring Tuffte, you’re not asking him for a resume.

          Generally, resumes are already in the form their recipients find most useful for conveying the information, and their uniformity is part of why they’re useful, as it would be any time you’re dealing with many iterations of the same kind of data. Even if an infographic makes for a more interesting or informative resume (which most of the time it won’t, because the people doing them aren’t good at them), it has to be not just more interesting and informative but enough of an improvement to make up for the problem it causes its recipient by deviating from broader convention. (See also: video resume.)

          I don’t think it’s impossible for it to do that, but I think it’s unlikely in most hiring situations where that particular skill isn’t prized and where resumes are received in high numbers.

          1. clobbered*

            “If you’re hiring Tuffte, you’re not asking him for a resume”

            This. The issue for Tuffte would be “what is the most effective way to convey the necessary resume information”. The arbiter of this effectiveness is the hiring manager. If the hiring manager tells you “I can’t tell quickly what I need to know” – it’s game over, no matter what you think.

            The irony is that while applicants want to “stand out”, what allows hiring managers the ability to work effectively is uniformity – this is exactly why so many employers use computerised forms (which I personally hate as an applicant). The more applicants insist on being gimmicky, the more employers will want to use the dreaded forced-format data entry.

            Don’t do it.

            There are definitely some good uses for infographics, especially to designate scale or flow. Resume information is really very simple: This is what I know. This is what I can do for you. This is how you can have confidence that I know what I say I know, and can do what I say I do. Here’s how to reach me. The End.

            1. Rana*

              Agreed. Speaking as someone who does a lot of work scanning text for a living, the more boring and predictable the format, the easier it is to work with.

              Hell, I remember one job where I regularly became furious at anyone who used a staple when submitting their document package, because it would break my flow and concentration. You wouldn’t think a staple would be that big a deal, but when you’re processing hundreds of pieces of paper in an hour, and entering the information from each in the same way, any minor deviation (such as bad handwriting) threw you off and slowed you down. And a staple was a major deviation, because it required finding and using the remover, disposing of the staple, and refinding the groove.

              I might look at a graphic resume longer than the others, but if I was under a severe time crunch, unless it was really, really interesting, I’d be likely to resent it breaking my “flow.”

          2. JT*

            “their uniformity is part of why they’re useful,”


            Also, Tufte.

            (Still annoyed I couldn’t make my schedule in grad school work so that I could have had him for intro statistics)

            1. fposte*

              Dammit. It looked wrong but I figured that since I wasn’t getting paid I’d just follow suit rather than look it up.

      2. Juli*

        Actually, I can see where some professions may have a complicated set of skills. For my industry (Oil & Gas) there are many different platforms with many different types of ways to organize quantitative data that needs to be put into software for analysis. There are literally hundreds of different file formats with greater than 50 different types of software that can implement that data. My “skills” section of my resume lists every type of file format I have used and understand and every different software platform that I’m competent using. On paper, it’s a significant amount of resume line space and completely necessary. The more I can list, the more well rounded and thus desirable professional I can be considered.

        I guess what I’m saying is that the “word cloud” would be something I would consider as a supplement to my resume, added on after the final page. But (you knew one was coming), I would still offer a traditional resume and still keep the overly long listing of data formats and software competencies onto my resume. The Energy Industry is so traditional in many ways and there is only one first impression. I prefer to keep my first impression more traditional.

    3. Katniss*

      Honestly I think Anonymous above made the best argument against this type of resume, which is that most resume-parsing technologies will not work with them.

      On top of that (and maybe this is just me) I no longer think of infographics as just a way to condense complicated technology. When I first started seeing them, sure. Now most infographics I see are essentially sneaky advertising. That’s not something I’d want to associate with someone’s resume.

      1. Mike C.*

        Then submit a plain text version when you have to deal with a keyword system? I don’t see what’s so difficult about this.

        And just because most infographics you see are from advertisers, what does that have to do with the price of tea in China? Charts and graphs and visual design have been around forever, I’m not sure why “advertisers” have some sort of unique claim to the idea.

        1. Nichole*

          I get where you’re going-that it’s a value judgement and therefore up for interpretation whether infographics are inherently bad. However, resume writing isn’t about making a document that has nothing inherently wrong with it, it’s about achieving an end- getting a job. If the majority of hiring managers will find your infographic not helpful at best and pretentious and obnoxious at worst, that makes it a poor tool for the designated purpose. To narrow it to one example, just because advertisers don’t have a sacred claim on it doesn’t mean that we can disregard the fact that the similarity to advertisements may negatively impact the ability of the document to serve its’ designated purpose. If I want to find a job, I use a preferred resume format, whether I think my infographic is beautiful and functional or not. It’s like using Edwardian Script-it’s very pretty, I like it, and the words say the same thing, but no one is going to go to the trouble of trying to read it.

    4. kate*

      I disagree that the point of an infographic is to display a large volume of complex information. Rather, I think infographics are best used to display a series of linked data points and to help draw the relationships between them.

      If anything, a timeline with graphic elements would be a (possibly) reasonable way to turn a resume into more engaging visual. And that does not an infographic make. An infographic would be better applied to, say, a succinct description of a research project.

      1. Mike C.*

        Ok, so for a resume those linked points would be the increasing skills, projects and other achievements which would align to the job one is applying for.

        Like you say, a clear visual would be useful to discuss projects and achievements. Connect those together with the job one is applying for and the company’s goals and it makes it a whole lot easier to explain one’s experience. Especially in an environment where every employer expects you to have 3-5 years of in house training.

    5. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’ve yet to see one that made the information easier to digest than a traditional resume format. Instead, they tend to give less info than a normal resume and make it harder to find what I want — on top of looking gimmicky and like someone used a gimmick for a gimmick’s sake.

    6. Joey*

      Infographics, at least in my experience are more useful for making complex info simpler to understand. The problem is its pretty hard to get simpler than a chronological outline with succinct bullet points.

      If you can do it go for it, but at some point its more efficient to just put the round peg in the round hole than spend all of your time figuring out a way to get the square one in.

      1. Mike C.*

        I get that, I’m just a bit surprised at all the pearl clutching about the issue. If the resume sucks, it sucks, graphics or text. But if folks want to experiment with a different style and try to find a way that works better, I say go for it.

        1. fposte*

          I don’t think anybody clutched pearls–we just disagreed with you. Trying something new is fine. Insisting that it has to be acceptable to the people who didn’t consent to the experiment? Not going to work.

        2. Joey*

          Yeah, I think its really easy to mock them because no ones seen a good one and it can be difficult to accept change. I bet a whole lot of people have had to eat their words on new ways of doing things like Skype interviews, online job applications, Behavioral interviews, LinkedIn, etc.

          I agree with you that it’s pretty foolish to dismiss something solely based on the fact that its a different way of doing things. The focus of the criticism really needs to be based on the specific content instead.

          1. Yukio*

            Agree with you and Mike. I nearly lost my belief in managers’ sanity when I reached half the comments here – it’s disgusting the way people attack creativity (or attempt to be creative) just because they’re not used to it, and they simply throw someone’s hard work into the trash bin without even look at it – just because they dislike visual CVs. And it’s even more disgusting to see those people – managers or HR recruiters – backing off from their extreme when someone like you and Mike shows up and express the opposite opinion. Now I understand why lots and lots of genius people had to build their fortune by their own – simply because of the domination of creativity haters in the HR field.

    7. Veronica Haynes-Phillips*

      Mike C., I am in agreement with you on this issue. The whole matter is subjective (in my humble opinion). There are a number of jobs that remain vacant due to attitudes (like the ones displayed here on this thread) and snobbery. It is one thing to criticize and toss a resume that is thin on experience, fudged, or one that contains blatant spelling errors, and quite another to be trite because it does not conform to one’s personal/subjective expectation. Many well constructed resumes will cover the important aspects of a person’s work history including knowledge, skills, and abilities; most will even provide a portfolio of previous work. It’s up to you, the hiring manager to pay attention (and not be lazy or contentious) and cull the information you need. You may find a jewel hidden there.

      There are qualified candidates out there. Unfortunately, they HAVE to find a way to stand out in particularly crowded fields. If use of an info-graphic is a way to do so, good for them! Gladly, not everyone is as unforgiving–especially in this tight economy.

  10. Hello Vino*

    Seriously? A lot of infographics are pretty awful and difficult to understand, but an an infographic resume? Now that just makes my head hurt. Even in the design industry, resumes should be simple, straightforward, and clean. It’s a resume, not a poster.

    Every once in a while, we’ll get a resume where all the text is rotated 45 degrees. Ugh, neck cramps…

  11. Pancakes*

    I think infographics as resumes are generally not good. However, I don’t think a design element or two is in poor taste. It all depends on what it is and how you present it. And if you work in any creative field (and not just as a graphic designer), I would highly recommend sprucing up your resume beyond plain text. It’s analogous to avoiding suits/business formal wear when interviewing for many creative positions.

  12. AnotherAlison*

    This just seemed too appropo to pass up:

    An infographic history of the resume

    Honestly, I looked it up because I was curious exactly how long we as a society had been doing this resume thing (looks like the 1950s were when they became the norm). I’m convinced the form we know now will go away. Not sure when or what replaces it (probably NOT an infographic resume), but everything changes eventually.

    1. fposte*

      Oh, that is interesting, though they’re a little cagey on the modern stuff (how many people have to do something to make it “trending”?).

      And yes, I totally agree that the form will continue to change. But just because the Berlin Wall eventually came down doesn’t mean it was wise to cross it while it was there.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Absolutely, I agree. You won’t see me sending an infographic or a YouTube video to anyone anytime soon.

        Just seems the hiring process is ripe for disruption. Of course Monster & LinkedIn changed a lot of things, but according to that infographic, 100 million resumes were sent out in 2011. Today there are over 12M unemployed (plus the uncounted), and fewer than 2 million new jobs added in 2012. There are some huge inefficiencies. This has to go in a different direction at some point. Not just resumes & hiring, but in the bigger picture of optimizing the resources available and the resources need, as well. We lost our jobs for life in the 80s, and we still continue to muddle through layoffs and having to change jobs to move up or get $$. 10-15 years ago, we were all supposed to be Free Agents (Harvard researchers were saying this) and get our revenge on Job Insecurity by selling our services to the highest bidder. Oops, they forgot about Health Insurance being tied to the job, I guess. I don’t think the current way things are is great and it doesn’t really seem to be a great benefit to employers or employees, having millions of unemployed sending resumes out, and having employers telling millions of people no thanks based on a few hunderd words (or worse, based on the electronic resume filtering systems).

        ( Sorry for the tangent. . .)

    2. Jamie*

      Funnily enough when my dad passed there was a briefcase full of papers I’d never seen. Amongst them five letters of reference extolling his awesomeness…all up until 1959 and his resume from that year.

      Alison would be proud. 1.5 pages, bullet points, achievements (he was not shy about extolling his own awesomeness, apparently) and no objective.

      He was following AAM advice long before Alison was ever born.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I’m curious – was 1959 when he got his last job & then worked there for decades?

        My dad is blue collar, and actually held 5 jobs since I’ve been around, but my grandfather moved to a town in 1954 and taught there until he retired in the mid-80s. Being locked in to one place in some ways sounds awful, but the thought of having your career mapped out for 30 yrs also has a certain stress-free quality. . .

      1. AnotherAlison*

        I saw one I actually liked, but most of them seemed to be by graphic designers who were trying to show their skills.

      2. fposte*

        I can see the possibilities of the ones that employ an infographic component in an ordinary text-based resume–that seems like a viable model for factual information (though a few of these are reinventing the wheel by creating new symbols for software that already has distinctive trademarks). But most of them wouldn’t make it any easier for me to know what I need to know, and some of them have thrown away the “info” in favor of the “graphic.” (Dude, never mind what shape it makes, if your band is higher on the timeline, I’m going to assume it means more of something.)

      3. Veronica*

        Some of the samples are pretty slick. As a hiring manager, I would take notice if someone sent that type of resume, but would also want to see a standard format resume.

  13. Jane Doe*

    Another reason this is a bad idea is that it’s not always clear who your resume reaches first. Sometimes it’s the HR person who is the first point of contact and who has to go through resumes matching up the skills/experience listed on the resume with what they’ve been given for a job description. A resume in a non-standard format could really throw someone off.

  14. Henning Makholm*

    Even if you’re hiring an infographic designer, you’re presumably looking for people who are professionally skilled in choosing a representation that enables the recipient to quickly navigate to the part of the information she needs. If there exists a conventional format for the information being communicated, a competent infrographic designer should know that sticking to this format (perhaps with some unobtrusive embellishments for flair) is such a large communicative advantage that it trumps just about everything else.

    1. AJ-im-Memphis*

      +1, as well just including a sample or binder of previous work along with the conventional method.

  15. Josh S*

    Confession: As a data analyst and business consultant (ie someone with no business doing such a thing), I dabbled with making an infographic-style / graphic design-style resume. It was much more skill-oriented than chronological & job-oriented, and had a mix of left- and right-alignment. And ‘clever’ fonts. And lines. And too much white space.

    I’m really glad I decided it wasn’t worth the time to finish or send out. I look at it now and cringe.

    And yes, this was prior to my discovery of AAM, lest I be banned from further participation for lack of sense.

    1. Jamie*

      Josh, if the resume I used to send out ever saw the light of day I’d be ashamed to show my face around here ever again.

      Well…avatar anyway.

      1. Nichole*

        Haha, I remember walking into an interview once and seeing, to my horror, that the interviewer was holding my old resume. It was all I can do not to screech “where did you get that?!?” I interview well, so I know how I got the job, but to this day I’m not sure how I got the interview.

    2. Anonicorn*

      I work in a fairly graphic-oriented field (e-learning), and you can bet I’ve put together some flashy interactive resumes.

      Everyone needs a creative outlet. It just doesn’t necessarily need to end up on some poor manager’s desk. Of course, I have offered this kind of stuff as samples during the interview phase.

  16. Meg*

    At the time I got hired for web design and development, my personal website included a nifty infographic. I also had a word cloud of skills, though it was scripted completely in CSS and Javascript (as more of a way to showcase my skills in those two languages). Mind you, I had a bread and butter resume to hand out/email, but my employers got a real kick out of seeing the infographic.

    Like I said though, it wasn’t something in place of the resume, but I think having it in my online portfolio was nifty (plus my site was [and still is] responsive and mobile-friendly, something the employer wasn’t at the time, but 4 months later, we are introducing mobile-friendly version of our sites [we’re one of the largest resources on the Internet and we still don’t have mobile-friendliness!]… I think THAT separated me from the others.. that I had experience in a direction they were planning on going but hadn’t explicitly said anything).

    Bread and butter resumes are definitely the way to go, but depending on your field and industry, some gimmicks can add to your *portfolio* (but not in place of your resume).

    1. Josh S*

      Yeah, the key to what you say is that the creativity can (and should!) be part of the portfolio in some form or fashion, but NOT the resume!

  17. justmelissa*

    My husband, an engineer, wants to put a word cloud on the back of his business card. His thought is that it would provide useful information about his areas of expertise (which isn’t at all reflected in his title or by his company affiliation). Would your “never, ever” word cloud statement be equally true in this treatment?

    1. Ash*

      Why can’t he just list some skills on the back of the card? Why does he feel he needs a gimmick to sell himself? If he can’t stand on his own skills and accomplishments, then he needs to step back and take a look at himself.

    2. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I feel a lot less strongly about it in that context. I still think word clouds come across as a little gimmicky and “over” to a lot of people, but it’s far better than putting it on a resume!

    3. JT*

      Word clouds are a little weak from a conceptual standpoint because not all words are the same length. Sometimes differences in word length can make them deceptive. And they’re sort of a cliche nowadays, at least to some audiences. (Though to some audiences they are neat.)

      That said, the back of a business card is a nice place for some creativity. It’s a bonus, not a replacement. So maybe this is a good idea.

      1. JT*

        Oh, I remember that my Twitter profile has a listing of interests – that’s linked to my name. It’s not a word cloud – rather the interests are listed in order of importance. This is another approach that could work on the back of a card.

  18. VictoriaHR*

    However, word clouds ARE useful for writing your resume to suit a job posting. Take the job posting, submit it into a word cloud generator, and then extrapolate the most-used words in the posting and make sure to use them effectively in your resume. Assuming, of course, that you have experience with those specific things.

  19. LMW*

    I also think word clouds are useful for seeing if you are using a word in your resume too much (or not enough). I’d never, never send out a word cloud resume, but I have run mine through a word cloud generator and it helped me make some tweaks by visually showing which key words I was using the most (they are the largest).

  20. Nancy*
    The above link is to a resume infographic I thought was clean, precise, easy to navigate and certainly would break up the monotony of a ‘classic’ resume.
    Reading comments here, I definitely understand, respect, etc., reasons to not use an infographic; however, I wonder if the more ‘right-brained’ individual would appreciate more a resume as seen in the link I posted. Just curious.
    Granted many infographics are too eye-jarring. Frankly: they’re a mess. But this one . . . ? Eh? Eh? Maybe?
    FYI: I don’t know where this resume came from. I’m not trying to champion/advertise anyone’s work here. I honestly thought it was quality.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d say that’s not really an infographic as much as it is a traditional resume that uses more graphic design elements. It’s still not as easy to quickly scan as I’d like, but it’s way better than an infographic.

    2. Rana*

      As someone who does appreciate graphic design (but, as you can tell from my comments here, I’m dubious about its merit in most resumes) I’m on the fence with this one too.

      The reason I’m on the fence is that I found myself, instead of trying to look at what this guy’s experience, accomplishments, and background is, getting caught up in critiquing the font, the layout, etc.

      Somehow, I think it’s more productive to have the hiring manager focused on your qualifications rather than wondering about why your name is in such a big font, and whether the resume would look better if there were a different balance between right and left columns.

      And that applies even for design candidates (maybe, even, especially so). You run the risk of running into pet peeves you might not even know exist, like the hiring manager’s utter loathing of Garamond, and their impatience with templates that use too much orange.

    3. fposte*

      It’s pretty. But from a hiring standpoint, it doesn’t solve my problem any better and is a tad slower to read, because the efficiency of my reading process depends on that very “monotony of a classic resume,” so the only way that would really be good for me is if everybody else did it too–and thereby presumably undermined whatever advantage this candidate felt he was gaining. (Honestly, I’ve never heard anybody looking through resumes moan that somebody needs to shake up the format occasionally.)

      And as somebody who works mostly with young people nearly starting out, I push back on principle against anything that will make the standard of hiring more expensive or complex to reach for applicants, so I really don’t *want* graphics to become a key aspect of resumes. I like it that a clean, acceptable format is available to anybody with access to Word and default fonts. I think it would be a bad direction for people to need to hire designers for their resumes unless they were designers themselves. I don’t think that’s coloring my responses to individual examples, but it means I don’t have a lot of regret over their apparent inability to improve on the classic format.

      1. Anonicorn*

        Your comment made me realize what I think is so ineffective about (info)graphic resumes — they don’t follow the long-held standard format. And almost anything in a non-standard format takes longer to use.

        Consider the search bar on websites. It’s usually an empty box with a button that says “Search” or some derivative, located somewhere near the top right corner of the page. Users have come to expect this, and it takes them longer to search a site if this standard is broken.

        The same idea applies to resumes. When their standards are broken, users take longer to use them.

  21. Allison*

    Oh recession, look what you’ve done to people!

    Part of me wishes that people who used gimmicks like these were never hired, so they wouldn’t be encouraged. Once someone uses a gimmick and gets a job, regardless of the hire was a result of said gimmick, they’ll tell their friends that it worked, and the idea will spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, if a job is hard to fill you can’t always reject a candidate on grounds like that if they have valuable credentials. If only there was a polite way to inform them that yes they’re getting the job, but whatever gimmick they used made the employer hesitant, and should never be used again.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      You can absolutely tell someone you hire that their gimmick was an obstacle to hiring them, not an enticement. I’d argue you almost have to, since you want them to understand that you reward merit, not gimmicks (on the job too, not just in hiring).

  22. Linea*

    Frankly, up until today I had never heard of an infographic resume and had to do a Google Image search… Oh, my… People really try anything.
    At a previous job, where I was involved in the hiring process, we would ask for a specific CV format (this was in Europe, in a government job, and the accepted – and expected – format was Europass). If someone’s CV wasn’t in the correct format, it wasn’t immediately discarded, but we assumed the person didn’t care enough to read the ad and it counted against them to a certain degree.
    From my experience, the candidate’s personality can shine through in a traditional CV as well (through info on education, volunteering, other experience), and especially in a cover letter.

  23. Lewis*

    I think maybe you’ve just seen all the wrong graphic resumes. What you described sounds pretty cheesy and kitschy. I am a 3rd year Interior Design student, and I’m applying for internships this summer. I came across this graphic resume that’s easy to read, stands out, and shows the applicants personality with out overdoing it.

    If the graphic resume sacrifices important information in order to make it look “pretty”, if you have to scroll/search to find the info you’re looking for, or if there’s unnecessary graphic elements, then yeah, that’s a bad resume. For those in the field of design (fashion, graphic design, architecture, interior design, art, etc.), graphic resumes are important, and actually expected.

    Here’s what I think a good example is:

  24. Snix*

    I am an Interior Designer as well and was planning to do my resume for my next job like this but not go overboard with the graphics. I’ve been looking at some samples of infographic resumes and I must agree that some are completely worthless.. While they look nice and eye-catching , it just simply lacked the needed iformation.

    My plan is to include the traditional resume and an infographic resume. Do you think that’s okay or should I just stick to the traditional one? I was planning on a simple infograph resume but you guys seem so against it.

  25. Fred*

    For the same reasons some employers wouldn’t want to take ten minutes to look at a resume, I don’t want to work for them. It works out perfectly. If the right candidate can be found using ordinary methods the employer is looking for an ordinary candidate, whom they will hire in the usual way, and get the typical result. HR has the singular challenge of preventing extraordinary people from producing worthwhile work. Screening to ensure mediocrity is for a company that capitalizes on creative ideas it buys, without generating any internally.

    What is the number one quality the candidate offered? The candidate presented a resume as a text file that was easily processed by the HR department. We have a winner!

    1. J.Michael*

      I can easily see how this argument could be made.I believe that if you were to closely examine much of the ingrained behavior that is commonplace in the hiring practice of many HR departments then it probably wouldn’t be a stretch to say that anyone looking to show a ‘unique talent’ or ‘creativity’ to themselves will be overlooked in favor of another candidate (with possibility even less to offer) who stuck to the status quo. Outside of the pros/ cons of an infographic resume , I think this speaks to a broader issue… Discrimination practices in hiring that find truly talented people being sidelined for job opportunities. Stepping back to the inforgraphic format for a sec, I’ve read the comments on here and agree that MANY of these styles look horrid! With that said, if a candidate is to submit a truly class piece of workmanship that is easily legible then WHY does it seem as if there is an inability to get beyond the knee-jerk response of calling it a gimmick? I’ll go one step further, let’s say we both agree that infographics are gimmicky…. ok fine, even still, if it actually looks like class work along with being highly legible then why not just give respect where RESPECT IS DUE and look past the “gimmicky-ness”? I would think the author of such a piece would at least warrant a follow-up call if not an interview , no?? Whether you think about this or not, aren’t many of you sub-consciously looking past the droid like monotony of the many b&w resumes crossing your eyes every day in order to find excellence underneath??

      1. Jen*

        I agree. The truth is that visual communication of information is that up and coming trend, and I think once our children’s generation gets into positions of making hiring decisions they will actually want this type of resume.

  26. Juli*

    Up until today, I had never heard of this type of resume. I can safely say that I hate them and can’t believe that 1) they are used in a professional environment; and 2) there is a possibility that they have been used successfully.

    As a scientist and Oil & Gas professional, I can safely say that this type of Resume would not be successful to gain employment. In fact, my company (a larger energy company) would refuse this Resume. I have a resume that has company icons after the name (to help with name identity in an industry where many companies sound the same) and I was required to remove these images from my Resume before I was permitted to upload the document to these Resume submission system.

    This type of Resume might be good for certain disciplines; where a more modern, warm and fuzzy resume is an indicator of creativity and forward thinking. In an industry where professionals are esteemed and respected members of the scientific community, this type of Resume would be a virtual guarantee of not only not getting called, but possibly be forwarded to others as a “Be on the look out, do not hire” emails that personal networks allow.

  27. Robert*

    Exceptions to this rule should be made for those applying for Marketing, or Design positions. In such cases your ability to make something unique and visually appealing is the primary goal of the job. An info-graphic resume accomplishes this goal by providing both work history, and an example of work.

  28. James*

    I’ll be honest before I begin I did not read every single comment the level of negativity towards info graphic or creative CV’s was depressing. Now my comment.

    I am a graphic and website designer I see the creative industry and interactive media expand on a daily basis. The world is changing and in the creative industry getting your CV or even yourself noticed is a big thing. It should come down to my online portfolio to speak for itself, however I am sad to say that many HR managers take the quick 30 second glance at a CV and move on. I agree if someone is applying for, say an accounting job then an infographic or creative CV is probably a bad idea. But in the creative industry it is a great idea. Gets you noticed. That said I do have a standard CV on the reverse side which conveys more info, but that is there just in case the HR manager is a picky. The creative industry is about being creative your CV should also showcase your skills. So I am afraid in that regard I have to disagree with most of the comments on here and the author. If I apply for a “creative” company and they disregard my CV because it is not just a CV but an extension of my portfolio then they have no business being in the creative world. That world is changing rapidly and we have to change with it.
    Oh and there is a rescission on people so in regards to getting a foot in the door every little helps right.

    Sum up different jobs need different ways to get your CV noticed, because get it noticed then let them see the information on there makes you the perfect candidate.

  29. Tribhu*

    I think it is about how it is done…. I have 3 years experience in HR. I have found some infographic resumes with as much information in one page as a orthodox resume will have in 3 pages. Plus it separates the leaves from the fruits. Saves time and gives focus. That is the reason it catches attention. So no harm. It is scientific I would say to go for inforgraphic. It appeals to the senses and gives a touch about the personality of the person.

  30. Marc Cordeira*

    To make a blanket statement that an infographic resume should not be used is careless. It depends on the type of job you are looking to acquire, the type of organization you are applying too, as well as other factors… I have used an infographic resume and received much praise from my now current manager, HR personnel, etc. I think that people see the amount of effort one puts into an infographic resume as a good workplace trait, as in this candidate will go the extra mile, this candidate is willing to think outside the box, this candidate does not always play it safe… As a manager, you should want people that will not always take the road most traveled, but are innovative.

    1. Adrian McLaurin*

      I agree with Marc. Any kind of non text based resume has risks and weaknesses, but there certainly are jobs and situations where they can be utilized successfully. I’ve been told to just follow some simple rules for determining when my infographic resume is a good idea. Mainly to 1. make sure that it ties into the jobs requirements, 2. is still easily readable uses a simple design concept 3. is skillfully done (nobody likes a mess. Also, I’ve been advised to research the company or organization I’m applying for. There are certainly design companies out there who would appreciate a simple text resume, but likewise, there are non-design companies and corporations who would enjoy a graphic one. I think the big thing is to remember that every job, company, and HR contact is different, and your resume should be tailor made for the specific application.

  31. Steve*

    It’s interesting seeing someone so against infographic CVs, especially given that infographics (or the “i-word” as I like to call them) are all the rage these days.

    I think it boils down to who you are and what you do. If you’re a graphic designer, then your CV can double-up as a glimpse of your work/design style. However, if you’re an accountant, then an infographic CV is probably just going to be really, really weird…

  32. Jen*

    You can dislike them if you want, but this is the direction that things are moving. Infographics are gaining ground everywhere.

  33. Almagreta*

    I totally agree. If you have nothing to do with design or graphics, why would you present yourself in an infographic way? My gosh, I also can’t understand how people get twisted ideas like this. Keeping it simple is the right way to be. You don’t need to get flashy colors on your resume to get it noticed. It will be noticed if you have the skills and experience and if you match the qualifications.

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