QUESTION: I’ve seen resumes that include charts, bar graphs, word clouds, and other graphic images. Is this the new norm?

Mary Jo King, Alliance Résumé & Writing Service

Content remains king. It will always serve you well to present well-matched qualifications and achievement-oriented writing in a clean, easy-to-navigate format. Fancy design elements won’t survive online applicant tracking software (ATS) systems, anyway, and simple design techniques can highlight critical data in ways that will survive both ATS and the initial 10-second review by humans.

Angela Watts, MyPro Resumes

These items are referred to as “infographics” and they can be advantageous in today’s rapid screening environment. Their benefits include: increased reader appeal, comprehension and retention. Ambiguous infographics or too many visual elements can have the opposite effect and distract human screeners from resume content. Quality infographics are limited and clearly related to key accomplishments.

Laura Smith-Proulx, An Expert Resume

Resumes with graphics, such as charts, can help immediately capture more attention to your strengths. Pictures speak louder than words! These images are valuable for distinguishing yourself against intensive competition, particularly when you are presenting the resume directly to a hiring authority. Of course, some graphic elements may need adjustments in order to pass resume screening systems.

Deirdre Rock, Composed Career, LLC

Employing graphs can be an effective way to create a visually impactful resume. However, such design features must be Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) compatible. Relying on graphs to convey key quantifiable data could result in it being ignored by ATS, inadvertently omitting your bottom-line impact. If in doubt consider attaching infographic data to your LinkedIn profile for complementary info.

Robert Rosales, EZ Resume Services

Resumes have evolved significantly. Graphics can be used effectively to showcase content that will resonate with the human reader and create strong visual appeal — if applied appropriately. However, applying graphics requires skill and expertise, or they can do more harm than good. I suggest you keep it simple and, instead, focus on writing content that conveys your value.

Edward Lawrence, Getstarted LLC

Charts, graphics, and text boxes are effective eye-catchers for resumes; so long as they interest the reader and enhance the readability of the resume. E.g . a chart showing how you increased sales QoQ or a text box with a testimonial could really impress the hiring manager. This won’t become the norm, as many people hesitate to include such objects, because of ATS-rejection fears.

Margaret Flores, Writing With A Flair, LLC

Yes, it will add visual appeal and communicate unique skill sets and value proposition you offer. The ATS scannable (unformatted) version is still needed and depending on employer process for submitting resumes, you should have a visual resume (in Word and PDF), and ATS version that captures keywords for targeted job. If sending via an email, you can always send both visual and ATS versions.

Lisa Hebert, LMH Advisors, Inc.

Having a more visually appealing resume will help you stand out from the crowd. Using graphic images can break up the text-rich resume and give the human reader a quick way to see your accomplishments. But they aren’t typically readable by Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems. That means any information contained in the chart or graphic is lost. Make sure that data is included some other way.

Tom Windhof, Windhof Communications - Career Services

It is certainly true that you can’t compete with a layout of your father’s resume anymore and I would advise to include some of those elements in your resume to stay competitive in 2020. However, the “norm” and scope of graphical enhancements that will be helpful in optimizing your resume, will largely depend on your specific industry and career level.

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