A recent article by Vladimir Popovic of Epic CV discusses the pros and cons of a graphic resume. Throughout the post, he brings up 10 positive reasons to consider a graphic resume, four downfalls and 5 risks. While I agree a graphic resumecouldbe an interesting differentiator to grab a recruiter’s attention, I agree even more about the fifth risk he mentions at the end of the article — graphic resumes are industry-specific. And IT contracting is not included in that list of industries.
Of the four pitfalls Popovic lists, the first one stands out the most — “Graphic resumes are not meant for Applicant Tracking Systems.” It’s a fact that all major recruitment agencies use an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). It’s also a fact that to access the most job opportunities, independent technology contractors frequently work with recruitment agencies because they have already built relationships with large organizations and possibly earned Preferred Supplier status through a proposal process. Consequently, if your resume isn’t easily readable in an applicant tracking system, it won’t be found by recruiters.
When you submit your resume to a staffing agency, it is put into a database that is searchable by recruiters and the ATS automatically scans the document for keywords to categorize your specialty areas. You may have applied to a specific contract opportunity and you’re now in the database. This means recruiters will find you while seeking to fill other positions for their clients. So, the recruiter is working to find you jobs and all you had to do was upload your resume. But, this only happens if your resume was ATS friendly — either a .doc or .pdf document, and originally created in a standard word processor, like MS Word. The staffing agency’s technology won’t be capable of reading your graphic resume and, even if it can, you’ll be lacking the detail required to categorize your resume… which leads to the next point.
In the Epic CV article, some of the pros provided by the author include “clearly shows information,” “highlights strengths,” and “graphic resumes are interesting.” This couldn’t be further from the truth if you’re an IT contractor. When recruiters and clients review your resume, they want to see all of your recent and relevant experience. In many cases, they put your resume beside the job description and, line-by-line, verify that you clearly explain and prove how you meet the requirements. A graphic resume that only highlights your strengths will not land you any gig worth bragging about. When recruiters screen resumes for IT contractors, they’re not seeking an interesting read, they’re seeking a qualified professional. Even the young recruiters — who Popovic seems to believe are all uneducated with no attention span and are “used to reading text and watching pictures” — will prefer a detailed resume that makes it easy to sell your skills to a client.
While graphic resumes are less than ideal when submitting to a recruiter for an IT contract, I do agree with a couple of the pros referenced in the article. A graphic resume will help you stand out and it could be a beneficial networking tool. Instead of a “graphic resume,” think of an infographic as a marketing tool. You would not you provide it when applying to a job, but instead, it would be a great leave-behind after an interview or when networking. That infographic is not going to be what gets you the job, but it will ensure somebody remembers you. And, when you’re top-of-mind to a recruiter, opportunities start pouring in.