10 Pros, 4 Cons and 5 Risks of Graphic Resumes

Vladimir Popovic
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10 Pros, 4 Cons and 5 Risks of Graphic Resumes from Vladimir Popovic


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Today’s job market is tougher than ever. There are tons of candidates looking for free seats in employers’ trains and HR Managers never had such a crowd they need to divide into “rejected” and “shortlist” piles. In order to stand out, job seekers are turning to non-traditional ways of transferring information to recruiters and hiring managers.

One of the recent trends in job seekers’ presentation of their qualities to potential employers is graphic resume. The logic behind that is clear – a picture is worth a thousand words and since the resume is the marketing document that is supposed to present you in the most concise way, there’s no better way to put that information in front of recruiters’ eyes. If you add that most people are visual types and that it’s easier for them to grasp data from pictures than from the text, you’ve got a winner. Your next resume is going to be a graphic one, isn’t it?

Well, it’s not that easy. Let’s try to objectively compare the benefits and pitfalls of a graphic resume, in which circumstances you may use it and the risks and tips for avoiding them. Finally, we’re going to show you some examples and web sites where you can create your own graphic resume if you choose to walk that path.


Benefits of Graphic Resumes

Knowing that recruiters and hiring managers spend 10 to 30 seconds glancing at each resume, it’s of crucial importance to show as much relevant information as possible on your resume in a fast-digestive way. By its nature, graphically presented information is ideal for this task. Let’s see that and other benefits of graphic resumes explained.

  1. They help you stand out of the crowd. When the recruiter opens the envelope/file, he’ll definitely remember that first feeling, mixed bag of surprise, appreciation for visual greatness, ease of finding needed information and grabbed attention. If executed right, graphic resume will raise a non-intentional smile on recruiter’s lips and after a brief scan of needed experience and qualifications, if you fulfill requirements, your resume is going straight to the “short list” pile. You will be memorized as “that creative person” and even if the substance of your resume doesn’t fit the job description, your resume will get a second look for sure.
  2. Graphic resumes are interesting. People love pictures more than words and recruiters are also human. After a hundreds of plain text resumes, yours will come to them as refreshment and if you did your homework as you should, recruiters are going to show your resume all over the office as a novelty and a good example.
  3. Clearly shows informationInfographics are made with one purpose – to show sizeable amount of information in a concise and easy-to-grasp format and your graphic resume has the same role. Instead of reading lines and lines of plain text, a recruiter can comprehend all of the needed info on you in a much shorter period of time with a graphic resume. That is the whole point of a resume – to present relevant data about you in a concise way.
  4. Highlighting strengths. With a right graphic resume, you can highlight your strengths much more than you can do it with a classic one. Using special graphics like bars, charts etc. clearly shows relative relationships between different elements.
  5. Branding. With a graphic resume, you can match the branding of your employer using colors, logos and shapes and that’s an immediate attention grabber. In addition, you can build your own recognizable brand image. If you manage to keep it consistent through the whole hiring process, it can add a ton of value to your application.
  6. Additional positive info for employer. Using a graphic resume will show your potential employer a couple of things (besides the content of your resume) – your creativity and talent, your adaptability to new trends and that you are forward thinking person with a good dose of courage.
  7. Networking and shareability. Having a graphic resume can help you to network more easily. It’s very shareable content and can be good for introduction and as a conversation starter. Also, it offers greater possibility to be shared further as an example of something done right.
  8. It’s very thankful for younger readers. If you happen to communicate with a younger recruiter, a graphic resume will be very appealing to him, as he is used to reading text and watching pictures on the screen, he can relate your resume with his content consuming experience.
  9. Uniqueness. All classic resumes look similar at first glance. A bunch of text with eventual formatting lines. With a graphic resume, you can be sure to have unique representation of yourself.
  10. Easy to make. You don’t have to be a graphic designer to make one. With widely available tools (free and paid), you can make your graphic resume very quickly and easy. We’ll come to that later.


Pitfalls of Graphic Resumes

Unfortunately, it’s not all milk and honey when it comes to graphic resumes. Now we’re going to present you the biggest flaws of communicating your info this way to a potential employer.

  1. Graphic resumes are not meant for Applicants Tracking System. A lot of companies are accepting applications online only. It means your resume is going to be scanned and stripped down by some software and those programs are not made for graphics. They work exclusively with text. It means, you can be the perfect candidate, but you can be rejected even before your resume comes in front of the human eyes. This is the main flaw of graphic resumes. On the other hand, you can freely use graphic resumes at your website, LinkedIn, online portfolio, Pinterest or Tumblr page, at networking events, job fairs etc.
  2. Graphic resumes can be perceived as less professional. Some traditions are here to stay and some mindsets are hard to change. If it happens that your resume comes in hands of a conservative recruiter or hiring manager, graphic elements can be a major rejecting factor as they can be seen as a gimmick or unprofessional.
  3. Employment gaps are highlighted. If you’re making a timeline of your employment, it’s much more noticeable if you had a gap on the graphic timeline than on standard text resume.
  4. Glance logic. Recruiters and HR staff are used to traditional resumes and know where to look for the info. Graphic resume’s elements can be distracting and sometimes it’s not so obvious where to look for data.


Risks with Graphic Resumes and How to Avoid Them

As with everything, if things are done right, you will make great impact. On the other hand, if you mess up with a graphic resume, you messed up big time.

Here are the most common dangers that can put your graphic resume in a ”rejected” pile faster that you can say “bad design”:

  1. They can be unclear. I saw a hundreds of graphic resumes that do exactly the opposite of what they are meant to do. Instead of extracting and showing accomplishments, sometimes it’s not very clear what the candidate was doing on some job, not to mention what he achieved. Be sure your resume is at least clear as a traditional one would be.
  2. Bad design. If you’re trying to add some value with design and then execute that design poorly, it’s automatically a worse mistake than the one you can make designing a traditional resume. Having that in mind, keep your design clear and crispy. It has to be easy to read.
  3. Too much or too flashy colors. As you’ve got rules with fonts and white space in traditional resumes, there are general rules of graphic design that has to be applied into graphic resume designing. Choose your color set wisely, use 2 or 3 colors only, and use mild, pastel colors. Having a resume half in screaming red, half in bright green probably won’t lead you anywhere.
  4. Distracting shapes. When creating a graphic resume, always have in mind that graphic elements are there to make info easier to read. Avoid the situation where graphic is there just for the sake of being there. If it doesn’t add value, omit it. Plus, if the resume is harder to read because of the graphics, you’re doing it wrong.
  5. Industry specific. Not all industries are suitable for graphic resumes. Conservative, traditional industries as banking, finance, healthcare, consulting, legal, academic etc. are very sensitive to clear format. With them, you may go graphic as little as a page divider and eventually your monogram. Alternatively, creative industries such as fashion, photography, design, marketing or social media are craving for graphic resumes, as they showcase the talent and skills of the applicant.


How to Create a Graphic Resume Online

In the last couple of years, there has been a boom in the graphic resume online creation. Websites where you can create your graphic resume yourself are rising as mushrooms after the rain. Here are the most popular ones, in no particular order:

  1. visualise.me
  2. kinzaa.com
  3. LinkedIn
  4. re.vu
  5. infogr.am

What’s common for all of them is that you can create your graphic resume in a few easy steps even if you’re not a designer.



All this being said, if you would like to see an excellent choice of graphic resumes, type “graphic resume” into search box on Pinterest or you can just click here. There you’ll find thousands of examples for everything we’ve been talking about in this article.



The future has come and a good, old traditional resume isn’t the only way to make the job of resume writing done anymore. Right now, application of graphic resume is somewhat limited to specific industries and circumstances, but it’s almost certain that, with the advancement of Applicant Tracking Systems, the time for graphic resumes is yet to come.

No matter if you’re using traditional or graphic resume, always remember that resume is a marketing paper. Its purpose is to present you in the best possible manner and to get you that interview. Having that in mind, do not let graphic elements prevail over the content of your resume. Style is important, but not more than the substance.

When machines learn to read graphics as we do, it’ll open the doors wide for graphic elements in resumes everywhere. Until then, be very careful and apply aforementioned tips for avoiding risks.

Good luck with your job seeking!

At the very end of this post you can find two things:

  1. Should you make a graphic resume? INFOGRAPHIC and
  2. What do you think about graphic resumes? VOTE POOL

Please share with us your experiences with graphic resumes in the pool and comments, whether you’re a job seeker or an employer.




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