Graphic resumes

Do Graphic Resumes Really Make A Difference?

There has been an ongoing debate about how a resume should be for as long as I remember. When it comes to resumes, people seem to have strong opinions and stick to them. Some believe a resume should only be one page long, others are more flexible and believe 2- or 3-page resumes are perfectly fine. Some people are strongly against graphic resumes because they can potentially mess with the applicant tracking system (ATS). While others believe plain resumes look too boring to get attention. In other words, there are as many opinions out there as there are people, sometimes conflicting with each other. In the end, whom do you listen to?

The approach I like to take is as follows: I listen to every point of view, consider it and look at it strategically. If I see the proof that it’s working, I adapt it and change my philosophy. After all, resumes are changing over time and so does technology and people’s mindsets. The last thing I want to do is be stuck in an old-fashioned belief that only worked and made sense for some time.

Here is my philosophy when it comes to resumes:

Go with the trend. 

Most people learn how to write a resume in college and until we’re told otherwise, stick with what they have learned. This means, after proudly making their first resume, they continue with a similar style and format years later. Your resume may have been trendy at that time, but now, 10 or more years later is it out of style. Presenting an old style of resume will make you look older. 

Graphics work!

I personally like to see well designed, visually pleasing resumes. They are attractive and stand out from the crowd. And, according to statistics I have personally had a chance to measure, they get more attention. Over time I noticed that candidates I have personally worked with who had visually pleasing graphic resumes got interview calls faster than the ones with the plain resume formats. Most people are visual and prefer classy and tastefully designed resumes. That being said, avoid downloading cheap resume templates online – most of them are not ATS friendly and will be a pain in the butt for you to edit.

But what about ATS?

Recruiters and hiring managers are still using ATS or applicant tracking system to enter applicant information into their system. Then, they later on search for the right candidate based on the keywords they have on their resumes. Back in 2009, during the economic recession, if you didn’t have the right keywords, you were pretty much out of luck. Also, if your resume is way too flashy and doesn’t parse correctly into the system, ATS may have issues with it. Times are different now; the economy is thriving and ATS has evolved in the last ten years. Too much flashiness may still present issues for some older ATS, but people have found ways around it. 

Content is still the king.

As you may have already heard, most people have a short reading attention span. Most recruiters and hiring managers spend 5-10 seconds looking at a resume. That being said, as short as it is, 5 seconds can be enough to make an impression. If your resume has powerful content and a tastefully designed format, it can still create a feeling of a highly accomplished candidate in just a few seconds.

Last, but not least, hire a professional. 

Most people I know dread the idea of working on their own resume. You don’t have to struggle with it alone. And even if you manage to come up with something decent with the help of your friends, it will still not be up to par with what a professional resume writer or coach can do for you. And it will make a difference for you when you start applying for jobs. 

Katherine Bouglai is a career transition coach and the founder of Blossom Career. She works with professionals in technology who want to discover their passion in life and build careers of their dreams. Her specialties include career change, resume development, job search strategies, job interview preparations, offer negotiations and other related skills.

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