Today, Penelope Trunk blogged about the value and importance of the visual. She explains in her post, Next phase of your career: Design,”This means that you will be more valuable and more relevant if you can think in terms of visuals.”
This topic has been on my mind for the past several days, especially, as I have been reviewing Visualize.me, the same infographic tool Penelope highlights in her post. What I’ve been grappling with is the disconnect between what is “cool” and “new” — even cutting edge — and what is actually useful for job seekers.
Remember VisualCV? (Maybe not?) It was an early tool to help job seekers demonstrate their skills and experience online. It was useful for job seekers to be able to pretty easily have online versions of their resumes. However, it turns out VisualCV wasn’t as useful as everyone thought, as it was not helpful for being found online; it was more a mechanism for sharing an online link with people who’d be impressed you had a photo and resume they could see by clicking through. (Update: they are actually closing up shop and won’t exist after December, 2011.)
Today, it’s not very hard to put up information online. There are lots of services making it really easy. Just a few (from my book, Social Networking for Career Success):
I believe job seekers should have a social resume — an online place to showcase and highlight their skills, but it’s not always the best idea to jump on the easiest or least expensive service to do it. For one thing, you never know when ads may show up alongside your personal information, or if a service will go under and leave you in the lurch. It’s not always totally intuitive what to include and how to showcase the best you have to offer online — it’s not always a case of “more is better.”
The same goes for infographics, which is why I’ve been reserving judgement and not writing about them. If you’re a graphic artist and create your OWN infographic resume, highlighting and showcasing not only your resume, but the visual skills you will use on the job, there’s no question in my mind a very customized resume along the lines of what Visualize.Me provides is a value add to your job hunt. It’s important to keep an eye on hiring managers in your field and what they need and want, though. It’s possible (likely) their systems still require the more traditional text resume, which you should always have handy. No doubt, there’s a disconnect between what we can create and what hiring managers and systems can use. When even a PDF may not be a good choice, think twice when you apply with a totally visual document.
Knowing how to tell your story — and how to tell it well — is not going out of style, even as the places and ways we showcase what we offer do change. As Penelope reminded us in her post,
“Short is good, and concise is fun, and in a world where we have too many facts, we appreciate a quick picture that synthesizes facts into something meaningful rather than a summary of disjointed facts.”
However, I don’t know that a literal picture is always the best answer to the question of how to demonstrate our value. A story — using words, and a hook to compel the reader to want to know more — can be equally appealing, interesting and attractive.
Infographics are sexy now. A chart is novel, a flow of your work life, especially if it is actually interesting and makes a case to hire you, is a potential positive. However, as with anything job search related, the most important thing to do is consider your target audience and their needs. Unless your chart will be unique and special and appeal to them, I’d think twice before assuming your “outside of the box” approach (and how unique is it really once all of the career bloggers are blogging about it?) is going to be the thing that lands you a job.
I’ve been personally thinking about this as it relates to my website. I’m planning a bit of an overhaul in an effort to bring my site in line with my business objectives. However, I’m still convinced it’s the content on the site and information people find that drives them (you!) here. Hopefully, the visual experience right now is pleasant, but I’m guessing I could have the most beautiful, cutting-edge visual site, but if I couldn’t support it with content, I’d have a lot less visitors.
Focus on being able to tell your story – IN WORDS – in a way that is as appealing and attractive as a pretty chart, and I’m betting you will be far ahead of the crowd.
photo by roger4336