How to Use Infographics on Your Resume

by Sharon Elber

Infographic Design

An infographic is a visual element that is used to display information in an easily digestible format. When done well, an infographic immediately conveys an idea, fact, or statistic to the viewer.

These days, online infographic generators and user-friendly design programs make it pretty easy for just about anyone to design one. That being said, just because you can doesn’t mean you should. This article will help you learn when and how to best make use of this visual strategy, and when to stick to tradition.

1) The Infographic Resume

You may have heard of something referred to as an “infographic resume,” also called “visual resume.” In the most general sense, this is a style of resume that uses several infographics along with other design elements such as text boxes and tables to display most of the information on a resume.

These heavily designed resumes had a moment somewhere between 2010 and 2013 when they seemed to be popping up everywhere and almost became an expectation in some fields. However, these days they are rarely preferred by hiring managers.

In fact, in most professions they are more likely to hurt your chances of being taken seriously than help. There are a few exceptions, however. For example, if design or visual presentations will be a core responsibility of the job you are applying for then an infographic resume may have more appeal for recruiters.

Another situation where an infographic resume can come in handy is if you want a generic one-page promotional document that communicates the essentials of your personal brand for handing out at job fairs, networking events, or professional conferences. This document should be professionally designed and printed on high quality paper for the strongest impact.

The visual resume can also be used to post online so that people who want to learn more about you can easily find it and get a sense of your professional persona in a snap. It should emphasize your most impressive accomplishments and credentials and communicate your strengths for the type of work you are most interested in pursuing.

2) When to Use an Infographic Element on Your Resume

Fortunately, you don’t have to have an over-designed resume in order to take advantage of the visual pop that infographics can offer. You can design a resume that is 80-90% traditional, with the rest of the space devoted to thoughtfully designed infographics. If done right, judicious use of infographics can help your resume convey polish as well as help you stand out from the pack.

Infographics draw the reader’s eye to them. That is why if you decide to use these design elements, they should focus on information that is directly relevant to the core responsibilities of the job you are applying for. Drawing attention to irrelevant numbers or facts will have the opposite effect than what you are going for.

Using such a hybrid design allows you to take advantage of the information dense format of a traditional textual resume, while also leveraging visual appeal to make specific facts immediately noticeable. They can allow you to produce a resume that is memorable, as long as you use them appropriately.

3) What Information Should Go in an Infographic?

Again, you should keep the focus on information that shows your fit for the exact job you are applying for. In many cases, Key Performance Indicators, or KPI’s, are a great place to start. Emphasizing numbers that demonstrate your past success adds an air of authority to your resume.

Another option is to focus more on specific skills you would like to showcase. By drawing attention to the skills you have that are part of the required qualifications for the job, you can help let the hiring manager know within a few seconds that you have what they are looking for in a candidate.

Here are a few great examples:

  • Sales Manager: Dollar value of annual sales revenue you brought in at your previous company.
  • Realtor: A line graph with the number of listings you sold tracked over your past five years as an agent which demonstrates a strong growing trend.
  • Software Engineer: A word cloud featuring all of the programming languages you know with the ones you use most shown proportionately larger.
  • Corporate Trainer: A colorful Venn diagram showing the subjects you have taught in corporate settings.
  • Academic: A bar graph showing sources of research grants and the amounts you have secured from each.
  • Insurance Agent: Text blocks showcasing brief but powerful (and authentic) testimonials that demonstrate your strong relationships with previous clients.

Remember that the point of an infographic is to draw attention to important information. It is taking up valuable space on your resume and it should have the impact to justify the real estate.

4) Design Tips for Infographics

Before you finalize your resume, make sure your infographics meet these design recommendations:

Readability

Your resume infographic should be easy to read and understand. If someone will need more than a few seconds to interpret this element, it is probably too complicated to be useful. Consider breaking the information into two separate elements or including the information in a traditional textual form instead.

Scanability

Keep in mind that most employers these days use Applicant Tracking Systems to do the first scan of resumes. These computer programs look for strong keyword matches to preselected criteria specific to the job you are applying to.

Text in your graphics may be readable to the human eye, but most graphics are rendered into a code that will not allow these ATS programs to pick up the words. Hence, if you mention critical aspects of the job in your infographics, be sure those keywords are also listed prominently in the traditional text sections.

Colors

It might be tempting to think that a lot of color can help you stand out. However, the overuse of color can look unprofessional. In addition, more than three colors has the effect of looking cluttered, messy, and confusing.

Stick to a few complimentary colors, hopefully those you have chosen to represent your personal brand. Don’t just use those colors in your infographics, use them to highlight titles, as divider lines, or for other design elements to convey consistency and cohesiveness throughout the document.

Text

The text in your infographics should be minimalist, easy to read, and in fonts compatible with the rest of your resume. Take a look at your graphic. Can you say the same thing with three fewer words? Then go ahead and chop it down.

Balance

If you opt for a hybrid style resume that uses both traditional and infographic elements, be sure that the graphics are added in a way that lend a sense of balance to the overall look of your resume. As is the case with any designed document, you should place a printed copy of your resume a few feet away and give it a once over for balance before finalizing.

Avoid These Things…

Your resume should communicate that you are a professional adult who is ready to take on responsibility and represent the company you work for in a positive way. Sometimes the effort to stand out works too well. That is, you can end up coming off as unprofessional, immature, unorganized, or flighty. That is not the kind of memorable impression you are going for!

Cartoony images, outlandish fonts, and pictures of animals are all examples of elements that can tip off recruiters to the fact that you are not a serious candidate.

5) When to Consider a Freelance Resume Designer or Editor

If you don’t have much experience with infographics or design, it might be a good idea to bring in a freelancer for the final polish on your resume.

If you have all of the information already ready to go, and you only need someone to design a few infographics and integrate them into your resume, you can probably get the job done for anywhere between $75-$150. And, once you have a well designed resume, customizing it for each job you are applying for is something you will be able to do on your own.

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