It’s no secret that getting through the CV sift is the biggest hurdle of the job search marathon. Indeed, in a competitive market where desirable vacancies can attract huge numbers of applications, simply making it to the interview stage can be an achievement all in itself. Therefore, how do you fend off the competition and stand out from the crowd?
One way is by submitting an eye-catching, aesthetically-pleasing résumé, otherwise known as an infographic CV. Ever since student journalist Chris Spurlock took the internet (and his now employers HuffPost) by storm in 2011, the credibility and success of visual CVs are undeniable. A well-designed submission can still grab a recruiter’s attention, even if the novelty has somewhat worn off.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a professional designer to create your own, either. There are numerous free generators and infographic builders that can do the technical work for you. So, if you want to try something a little different, and really let your personality shine through, why not consider it?
This is how to create an infographic CV…
1. Make Sure it’s Relevant
Before you get to work on your design, you should first consider if an infographic CV is the right course of action to take. For example, if you’re applying for a job in graphic design or technology, where you’ll be expected to demonstrate some creative flair or convey complex information in a simple and accessible way, then an infographic CV or résumé is a perfect idea.
Conversely, if you’re putting yourself forward for a role in law or corporate finance, then there’s a good chance that a more traditional, long-text CV will be more appropriate. The key is to do some research on your target company, and determine whether a bolder, more modern approach will work in your favour or see your entry end up on the cutting floor.
2. Don’t Forget the Basic Principles
Just because it will look radically different, your CV should still adhere to the same principles that it would if it was a basic black and white submission. This means refraining from sending out a general one-size-fits-all CV, and instead tailoring it specifically to each company and/or position.
Similarly, just because the emphasis is more on the visual, this isn’t an excuse to overlook poor grammar and spelling; mistakes are still mistakes, after all, no matter how shiny and aesthetically appealing they look.
3. Don’t Copy Your Existing CV
This doesn’t mean you should take everything from your original CV, though. In fact, you should totally avoid copying your existing text, as the longer sentences and paragraphs will not lend themselves to the short, punchy nature of the infographic format.
You’ll also likely need to perform some culling in order to make everything fit – this means finding and removing any surplus information that offers no value to your application. Besides, as we will discuss later, there are other, more appropriate, locations to go into the finer points and details of your career so far.
4. Make a Sketch of the Layout
Before you get started on the software side of things, it’s a good idea to first write down everything that you want to include and then lay it out crudely on paper. All professional designers use this process to review any major design concerns before committing to the process, and it will give you a foundation on which to start work; specifically, which section will appear where on the page.
5. Adhere to the Rules of Design
If you’re design-savvy – whether as a professional or simply as a Photoshop enthusiast – then you will be aware of the principles of design, such as:
Colour can have a huge impact on the subconscious area of the mind, with poor combinations of shades and hues turning us off and more pleasant patterns reeling us in. The colours themselves can say a lot as well; for instance, it’s a well-worn design precept that red suggests boldness and adventure, while green inspires trust and loyalty. Use the right colours to convey your personal brand.
Trying to keep things simple when you are conveying an awful lot of information on to one page can be tricky, but not impossible; there are several examples of infographics that have maintained this balancing act perfectly. Try not to bombard the reader with too many graphics and pieces of text in such a small space and try to make the theme consistent throughout.
Ideally, you want your CV to flow logically; this doesn’t necessarily mean that your name and contact details have to be at the top, for instance, but they should certainly be clearly distinguishable from your other sections. Remember: recruiters don’t spend long looking at CVs – even shiny, colourful ones – and if they have to struggle to get their bearings first, then they’ll likely just give up.
6. Take Advantage of Existing Templates
If you’re not a designer by trade or your sense of visual flair leaves a lot to be desired, then don’t worry – there are plenty of sites and software tools that offer professional template designs. Using a builder can save you time, as well, which is particularly handy if you’re embarking on an application spree for a variety of positions.
Although some creator resources cost money, many are free; here are a few examples of some of the best:
As one of the most popular infographic maker tools on the market, Visualize.me is an exercise in efficiency. It costs nothing, requires zero design input and, most conveniently of all, takes the content directly from your LinkedIn page. It even syncs with your other social media profiles, meaning you won’t be required to do anything.
Noted for its intuitive and user-friendly drag-and-drop method, Piktochart offers a free account plan with limited features. It’s recommended that you opt for the Lite option at $15 per month, though, where you will be given access to an enormous library of templates, logos, symbols, icons and shapes.
Wordle is a free word cloud generator that can be employed for use within an infographic, especially for those who are looking to add an extra touch of aesthetic class to their design. Designed to take keywords from a given block of text and present them visually, this feature can really make your CV stand out.
Gliffy is another support tool that focuses specifically on the design of flowcharts and diagrams. These can be particularly handy if you are building a timeline or seeking to visualise something chronological. It costs $8 a month to maintain a personal account.
Visme’s pricing system allows free account holders to work on a maximum of three projects, which is handy if you’re only going to be creating one CV. You also get limited access to Visme’s template library, as well as the ability to download and print for free (which is not the case with many providers). There is also an animation option, as well as a paid account at $15 per month where you’ll get access to all the features.
7. Don’t Miss Out Anything Important
Once you’ve settled on an actual design, you need to ensure your CV contains all the important details. For the most part, these will be the same as with a traditional written
CV, although the nature of the format allows you to be slightly more creative.
Pay attention to the following:
An Eye-catching Heading
With so much activity going on, your name and ‘introduction’ should be a lot more prominent. In fact, it should stand out completely from anything else on the page. Consider a larger text size or a more imposing font type.
According to many experts, including a photo of yourself on your CV is a major faux pas as it draws the recruiter’s attention away from what they should be focusing on; therefore, it’s at your discretion if you want to use a personal photo. If not, try to use some form of imagery that fits within your theme and is relevant to the position or, if you have the design skills, even a cartoon/edited version of yourself (if appropriate).
Your Skills and Strengths
This is a section that lends itself well to an infographic CV, as you can visually assign a particular level of expertise to a certain skill. For example, rather than simply saying that you are competent in Java, PHP and Python, you can instead use horizontal bar charts, with your proficiency level in each language given a score out of 100.
Your Education and Work Experience
Many infographic CVs feature education and work experience on a timeline (or a variant of a timeline); this makes things logical and easy to digest for your recruiter. It’s also a good idea when listing previous employers to use their logos; people respond naturally to brands, and it adds a further degree of professionalism to your design.
You can also get a little more creative with your hobbies and interests, using icons to represent each pastime (such as a gaming controller to denote playing video games, for example). Similarly, you can create charts that denote how much of your time you devote to certain activities. This helps to create a better overall picture of the kind of person you are away from work.
On a traditional CV, it wouldn’t really be appropriate to insert a quote or phrase summarising your career philosophy, but on an infographic CV, it’s a lot more acceptable – and, indeed, a lot more common – to do exactly that. This freedom is indicative of the increased flexibility and diversity that a visual format offers.
Your Contact Details
As previously mentioned, infographics are relatively limited in the information that they convey, and so it’s a wise idea to provide links to your LinkedIn profile or to an external online portfolio. You can also provide links to your other social media profiles, utilising their logo icons to again play on that brand credibility and get creative.
8. Get Feedback Before You Press ‘Send’
Once you’ve finished your design and you’ve included everything that is relevant, it’s a good idea to show the final version to some friends or family (especially if they have a design background). If you’re getting the same kind of comments (‘the colours don’t match’, ‘the fonts are too small’, etc), then it’s generally a sign that recruiters are going to feel the same way. Take these comments on board, go back and tweak whatever needs to be fixed, and then seek another opinion.
It’s also good practice to ask them to proofread your CV, too, as multiple pairs of eyes will be far more likely to pick up on any silly spelling mistakes or grammatical errors that you may have overlooked.
9. Make Sure it’s Formatted Correctly
Recruiters tend to print out the CVs of candidates that they intend to interview; therefore, ensure that your design is formatted to fit an A4/letter-size page, with breaks inserted at the necessary points should your infographic extend further than one page. This may sound like a minor detail, but it makes life a lot easier for your potential employers, which, in turn, will make life easier for you!
Ensure it’s the right file type, too. Most applicant tracking systems (ATS) are built to scan a limited amount of document types, so avoid sending it as a JPEG or a PNG file, just in case – the safest bet is to opt for a PDF format.
10. Provide a Traditional CV, Too
Finally, it’s a good idea to include a more traditional written CV as well, just in case your potential recruiter isn’t a fan of the infographic format or if they simply want to read a little further into your background. Don’t treat this as an afterthought, either; you should still put the same care and attention into both formats.
As you can see, producing an attractive, high-quality infographic CV doesn’t necessarily need to be difficult, nor does it need to be restricted to professional designers. Indeed, with the right amount of research, inspiration and content, anybody can set themselves apart from the norm, helping to secure that dream job they’ve always wanted in the process.
Do you prefer infographics or more traditional CVs? Let us know in the comments below…