So, you’re considering creating an infographic resume—something graphic, colorful, and creative that’ll catch the eye of a hiring manager.
But, how do you know what a great one looks like? How do you make sure yours is a well-designed piece of artwork that tells your story in a clear, effective way?
The short answer is, unless you look at 50 of these things each day or analyze and create design for a living, it’s pretty tough. So, my first recommendation is to hire a designer to help you out.
That said, even if you have someone creating your resume for you, you’ll have control over how it looks, and there are some basic guidelines and best practices you should know about. To give you a sense of what works (and what really doesn’t), here are four important rules to follow.
1. Make it Easy to Understand
Resumes follow a specific format. Usually, it’s your name and contact info at the top, followed by a summary of your skills, your work history, your education, and any other interesting information that might be helpful for a hiring manager to know.
While an infographic resume doesn’t necessarily need to follow this format, you still need to make these pieces of your resume very clear.
Take this resume, for example.
What, exactly, is this candidate’s experience? Where has he worked? What are his key specialties? It’s pretty hard to tell. I looked at it for 15 seconds and still couldn’t understand it, so I moved on to something else.
Now, look at this one.
It’s clear and definitive about what Chris has been spending his time on and how he got to where he is now. His skills are represented in a way that quickly shows what he’s good at and when he became good at it. In both the Experience and Education sections, your eye follows naturally from left to right, and you see a trend of improvement.
This is exactly what you’re going for—an infographic that makes your information easier to understand, not more difficult.
2. Tell a Story
In addition to presenting information in a clear way, you want to make sure your resume tells a story—a story that positions you as the ideal candidate for the job.
Let’s look at this one.
I design these things for a living, and I don’t understand what this is supposed to tell me. What does this candidate do? What does she want to do? What does the graphic mean to someone considering adding this person to his or her team? Why does it say “No gamble involved” at the bottom? I guess if I owned the Dungeons & Dragons version of Trivial Pursuit, this would at least intrigue me enough to want to figure it out—but I don’t, so I move on to the next resume confounded.
On the other hand, look at Sarah Carrington’s resume.
She’s a writer and editor who’s been all over the world and has diverse experience in high-impact fields. By quantifying her output, calling attention to global brands that trust her with their messaging, using imagery that makes sense, and explaining her potential impact, the resume tells a story of who she is and what types of jobs she’s aiming for.
3. Pick the Right Colors
After you have the structure down, one of the most important decisions you can make is in terms of color. Most importantly, you don’t want to go crazy with a whole bunch of colors—which will detract from the story and information you’re trying to share. Check out this example:
With so many colors, your eye doesn’t quite know where to focus.
While you can use some striking contrasts or harmonious complements, you should probably stick to black, white, maybe some grays, and a color or two thrown in for accent. See how in this example, even a monochromatic color scheme makes a big impact.
When choosing your color, think about what it will say about you. Browns are rugged, but natural. Blues are great because they are easy to read on a white background and you can use many different shades. (On the other hand, when using shades of red, going lighter can look pink, and yellows will become too light.) Even moving into purples or greens can work.
For further reading about selecting a color scheme, check out Smashing Magazine’s article on color theory in design and a blog post on Kiwi Creative that looks at the psychology of color theory as it applies to logotype.
4. Keep it Simple
Finally, and most importantly, keep it simple. You don’t have to go overboard or have the most creative infographic ever designed to make a big impact.
Take it from this one.
Two colors. Simple. Big numbers and headings. Simple. Arrows directing your eye down the page. Well, I’ll admit that the arrow system doesn’t really help so much because the arrows go both up and down, but that’s an easy fix.
In general, it’s easy to read, it doesn’t go into too much detail, and it leaves the reader wanting more.
And at the end of the day—no matter what format—that’s what a resume is supposed to do.
Have you tried creating an infographic resume? Have any questions about the process? Ask in the comments section!