Visual appeal is an incredibly important component of your resume -- your resume needs to be organized and easy to read, or a hiring manager isn’t likely to spend much time with it. But, unless you are applying for work as a graphic designer, you don't need to use fancy graphics to get your point across. In some cases, certain graphics can even hinder your job search.
When designing your resume, think about how you are going to present the information in the best way possible. If a graphic is going to help with that, feel free to use it, but in our experience, we have found that most graphics either distract or confuse readers. For example, let’s say you turn your initials into some kind of fancy logo (something we see frequently). How does this help make the case that you have the correct qualifications for the position? It’s not really giving much information to a hiring manager, but it could be wasting valuable space or drawing a reader’s eye away from your skills and experience. An employer isn’t going to immediately reject a candidate with a small logo in the corner, but remember, you’re trying to stand out as the best candidate, so you want to do everything possible to get the hiring manager’s eyes to the right place.
One resume graphic that really can hurt you is a skills graph, where candidates have their skills listed and little bubbles indicating their level of experience with each skill. All this does is call attention to the fact that you aren’t great at certain skills. If a company is looking for someone that knows Photoshop, they’re far more likely to hire the person that has Photoshop simply listed as a skill than someone who indicates with bubbles that they’ve still got a lot to learn about the software. Never give that information away on paper -- you'll never get called in for an interview. If an employer needs an expert-level Photoshop user for an open position, they’ll surely bring it up when they meet with you, and then you’ll have the opportunity to explain your level of experience (or willingness to learn, if you don't have quite as much experience as desired). Think about graphics like these from a reader's perspective -- they might look cool and interesting, but no one has time to decipher what they actually mean.
In general, graphs, charts, and infographics can be confusing and time consuming to read. Use bullet points to convey important information clearly and concisely. If the position calls for expertise in graphic design, go for it. But if not, stay away. A clean, simple resume will always do the trick.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan
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