If you’re looking for great job hunting advice on a regular basis, you should make sure you read Karl Sakas‘ plethora of helpful tips. If you need up-to-date intel on new jobs, connect with Joanna Wolfe (aka The “Information Yenta) and read her job blog.
But, I just ran across an infographic resume that reminded me how important it is to stand out in a competitive marketplace. Imagine that you’re looking for graphic artist and you have a pile of typical resumes and then you see Michael Anderson’s:
The best part of this resume is that it doesn’t give you a reason not to contact him? Looking at a traditional resume gives you at least 3 or 4 opportunities to say, “I can’t hire this person because …” Michael has done the hardest of all things, he’s made himself memorable.
How do you stand out?
Jay Dolan says
Ridiculous, anime-esque hair style.
Also, I write a social media blog called The Anti-Social Media. That helps too.
That’s great if you’re a designer, but what makes a quality resume for someone applying to a more corporate field? Do corporate employers see the resume above as something that’s “too different” and therefore think that the candidate might be a liability rather than an asset? Just thoughts. Personally, I like his resume, even if it is hard to read. Maybe you can follow up with him and see how he’s doing now…did he get a job?
Phil Buckley says
@Lauren I understand your point. I believe you can make yourself stand out many different ways. Use Jay’s example in the comment above yours. There’s no doubt that his social media conta-blog helped him leave a job where he was under-utilized and unhappy and move in a direction that better suits his talents and his personality.
So if you want to be an accountant that stands out you can’t just say, “I’m good with numbers”.
I’ll check in with Michael Anderson and see where he’s at.
Brian McDonald says
I think it’s brilliant if he’s applying to smaller firms. Larger firms will not see anything on this resume if they are using bots and resume scanning services to f ind keywords.
I also agree with Lauren that this is great if he’s applying to a company that does web graphics. Otherwise it’s too much for the average joe. Also how does he measure any of the skills he graphed? Is it total output, level of expertise? Where’s the legend?
Phil Buckley says
@Brian – my question is does it cause the resume to be set aside into the “call this guy” pile? I think it does, but maybe that’s just me.
In an attention economy, something different/cool/jarring may be your only chance to grab someone’s attention.
Brian McDonald says
I agree with you in that it will set itself apart. But there is a small percentage of people that would take notice of it and say “awesome!” Others won’t know what to do with it and if it does get scanned by bot then it won’t see human eyes is my point. In today’s automation society this resume only works for the small, creative shop.
Dan London says
How many times have you spoken to a recruiter of HR person and they ask you to submit your resume in word format? 99% of the time.
Phil Buckley says
@Dan right, because that’s what everyone does. Ask yourself the flipside of that question, is your dream job the one that you submitted a MS Word resume to a recruiter for?
I still believe that the best things in your life happen when you set yourself apart. You didn’t marry the woman who was like everyone else did you? You didn’t take your current job because it was just like your last one, it was somehow better.
Being one of many is safe, I can’t argue that. But it’s a false sense of safety because it’s the people who think differently who advance into their dream jobs while the people who take the safe route end up as middle-managers at Fortune 1000 firms.
Just my 2 cents.
Joanna Wolfe says
I agree that as a resume it shows great creativity and the ability to “think outside the box”. If he can get in the hands of the hiring manager he most likely would be contacted – my opinion.
But @Brian is spot on. Most companies that job seekers apply to online either demand a MS-Word formatted document or a cut and paste of plain text. This continues to be a barrier for folks who might hope to submit something beyond the norm. Which is probably why video resumes haven’t caught on in mainstream recruiting – not necessarily bad in the grand scheme of things.
Conceivably, he could paste the graphic into a word document for submission. But I agree with Brian, companies using Talent Acquisition programs such as Taleo or Brassring to scan for keywords wouldn’t find his resume. Talent acquisition software would treat the graphic like search engine bots would treat an .jpg on a webpage that lacks a text alternate description.
I think you do highlight an issue regarding the automated processes put in place to “help” recruiters wade through the staggering number of applicants for any single job. These automation tools not only get rid of the unqualified, they inadvertently may pass over the true gem.
I had lunch with the VP of HR for an medium sized (under 500 employees) area company yesterday. She told me that she gets 300 – 400 resumes in the span of a couple of hours after posting an job – any job, at any level in her company. The company no longer sends acknowledgments for receipt of resumes or if a job has been filled.
If resumes were actually handled directly by hiring managers, I think this individual’s creative talent would be recognized. However, I can see an HR generalist looking at such a submission and saying “Huh?”.
As for my opinion regarding it as a resume – it shows real creativity to think of something like this. Unfortunately done once the style cannot be replicated/copied by another individual without looking like plagiarism. I preface the next bit by saying I am not a graphic artist or art director so I can’t offer an informed opinion on that front.
I do not know if the actual graphic design of the document itself is anything out of the norm. In some ways, the actual graphs and representation are similar to [read: looks to me like] those a layperson can produce using spreadsheet tools. That opinion needs to be left to the experts.
The true value of this potential applicant is to be able to see beyond the norm – think creatively about a solution to the problem at hand. I’m afraid his talent won’t be seen for what it is by the HR workers who open email and sift through the stacks of resumes. However, for the employer who recognizes his ability not only as a graphic designer, but as problem solver, they’re going to get a truly valuable asset.
I’ll see if I can get some of the recruiters and HR folks who follow me to give their opinion.
Christine Seib says
What’s great about that resume is that it exemplifies the skills he’s selling, not just talks about them. Someone in a different field would need to take a different approach or it might not make much sense.
I think a resume becomes more obsolete the more you grow in your field. It becomes about your credentials, your connections, your reputation. A lot of people are being hired without submitting a resume at all. Though I’m a writer, I am all in favor of this. There are a lot of standard practices in hiring that seem really outdated, and the standard resume is one of those.
I think Phil is on to something here.
You must stand out. This isn’t the sort of resume one would mail in to anyone or post on a job board. This is the kind of resume you stick in the person’s hand to whom you are applying and say, “Hey, my name is Michael Anderson, and this is why you should hire me.”
“With risk comes reward.”
Phil Buckley says
@Joanna – you and Brian are right about the automated resume thing, but honestly being picked by an automated system seems like a 1 in million proposition. I’d take my chances with the infographic over the “the machine will decide”.
I also think Christine saw the same thing I did, which is that this resume is specific to this person looking for his specific job – a good fit that is well done.
@Lee – telling someone looking for a job, sometimes ANY job to take more risk is a tough sell, but I think it’s the right thing in many cases.
I agree overall with Joanna – this is a great tactic when you have a chance to get this in the hiring manager’s hands directly. Of course, that’s the ideal situation; a networking contact or a friend gets you a referral. However, the reality is many job seekers are scanning job boards and are locked into automated resume management programs.
Creating both – a “creative” resume and a more mainstream one makes sense. Use each when appropriate. Maybe bring the “creative” version to your interview as a supplemental piece of the puzzle.
Phil Buckley says
@Chelsea – what if you never get the in-person interview because you were just one of 1000 resumes. The hiring manager would never get a chance to see your awesomeness.
The more you have to rely on an automated system to decide you’re worthy, the more likely it is that you won’t be at that job very long. What dream job starts with an automated resume scanner?
Cait Vlastakis Smith says
Interesting post, Phil! I’ve been working on my interactive resume (which is also an infographic) and have been referencing this exact resume, along with some others, as creative inspiration. Having left a very corporate job, then jumping into grad school and now targeting more creative positions, my right and left brain are always battling it out over topics like this.
So as a compromise, even though I’m developing a creative resume as my primary vehicle, I’ll also include a link in the corner to my traditional resume. That way I’m considering my entire audience.
As you mention, just getting the attention of an employer is a HUGE task, especially in today’s job market. So giving them a reason to pause and spend an extra minute reviewing your resume is the biggest challenge. I think Michael’s resume is a success because it does just that. Would we be even having this discussion if you’d posted a nicely formatted Word resume?
Phil Buckley says
@Cait – I always wonder about the idea of a “plan B”. Does that mean that you aren’t 100% confident in your “plan A”?
I totally understand why people take the safer route, I did it myself for a long time. I just hate the idea of having to hope and pray that some resume scanning algorithm picks mine over yours.
Jeff Tippett says
Do most people use multiple versions of their resumes based upon their audience? I can see this resume standing out at one of the Calvert companies since we are all smaller. Perhaps not so much at a larger company like GSK.
Like @Dan said often times the resume has to be uploaded in a text format.
I can’t even imagine what this would look like had a CV been represented by an infographic. You are definitely right, @Phil, that this resume stands out. And you’ve generated some great discussion here. Thanks for sharing.
He sure can GENeRate a darn good 3D graph!
Karl Sakas says
Thanks for the shoutout, Phil!
My next job-search advice article will be from my perspective as a new hiring manager — I’ve seen a lot of examples of what to do… and what not to do. I’ll need to do some editing — my draft list is up to 40 items.
Ed Han says
That’s a very eye-catching resume!
Caveat: I’m neither a graphic designer nor a someone who deals professionally with resumes often.
Having said that: I like best that the resume has a very easy-to-relate human element: coffee consumption & humor graphs? I mean, c’mon, that’s a great icebreaker! It’s quirky, personal, idiosyncratic…all of which to the right eyes are going to be great!
But that’s just it, isn’t it? “To the right eyes”? I can see how it might be too different, too unusual for some readers.
Since the designer’s job is to make information very easy to understand, I think this resume does what its author set out to achieve. And since the best practice for resume submission is tailoring to the specific opportunity, I am inclined to think the candidate only submits this directly to hiring managers whose sensibilities have already been researched.
Phil Buckley says
@Ed I think that’s exactly the point. Not only is it impossible to make everyone happy, why bother with the people who just don’t get it. Focus on the people you can actually impact.
Michael Anderson says
Phil asked me to stop by and say hello. I wanted to mention this landed me a job before getting picked up on the internet. I put it in my current bosses hands and he immediately understood the point, while not being a graphic designer, it conveys most of the information I wanted it to with subtext.
I had originally intended this to be a proof-of-concept, to breakdown the information on a resume and restructure it using the time axis, which is how a resume should be built. The parallels in employment & school naturally fit on one time line, as do design foci and major life changes. The most interesting part is the lack of real information on the graphic, there are no metrics per se, just charts and graphs with no numbers. I do wish I would have integrated a few more elements, but it does the job.
As to whether or not a huge company would be able to “scan” this and find my qualifications, I really wasn’t interested in that. I like smaller, more human-oriented businesses, where people aren’t scan and searchable. I do understand the reality of the market is to consolidate and that lends itself to more automation, but if I were applying to a major corporation, I would use my ASCII resume anyway.
I have another iteration in the tube right now, but I am in a bit of a job transition and will be updating my site soon. Thanks to Phil for the exposure, and to everyone for the feedback, I find like the conversations that this starts more than the notoriety.
Phil Buckley says
@Michael thanks so much for stopping by. It’s great to get a real answer on if your unique approached worked or not.
Good to hear that it worked as designed!