Mary Frenson is a guest contributor to my Blog. She has written a very interesting article. Please read on…

In a competitive job market, most candidates are interested in new, exciting ways to help their resume stand out from the crowd. With the explosion of visuals in the online world on sites such as Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram it is no surprise that many are starting to opt for a visual resume format over a traditional one.

However, there are downsides to using a visual resume as your main tool in your job search. Consider these five points before committing to designing a visual resume to send to potential employers.

1. Distracts the Recruiter
Recruiters tend to skim through resumes at quite a pace, on first inspection they may spend less than 30 seconds on your resume. This short timeframe is all that’s needed to determine whether your candidacy warrants further exploration. Given that this small window is all you have to get across your most important selling points you do not want to waste a moment of it.

If your visual resume grabs the reader’s eye away from the meaty details of your experience then these seconds that they spend taking in, analysing or admiring the design elements are valuable seconds wasted in terms of conveying your message.

Even when applying for a design position the recruiter will expect to read about your previous achievements and to see evidence of the supporting characteristics that go into hiring a talented designer, such as the ability to turn projects around within given time frames etc.

2. Restricts Content
When a resume is dictated by design features rather than content then it is highly likely that the end result will be a below par document. If the visual appearance means that you only have room for a couple of points in each section then you may end up cutting out some of the most relevant details on your resume in order to make it fit. This should never be the case, above all else a resume is a functional document. It’s one and only job is to secure you an interview. If your most relevant achievements & skills play second fiddle to your design even if it is a masterpiece, the resume won’t do its job.

3. Irrelevant to Industry
Visual resumes are most suited to the creative and design-based industries. If you are applying for a role outside of these industries using a visual resume can be read as a lack of understanding of the corporate environment. This, of course, may not be the case, but when a recruiter is skimming through a huge stack of resumes they don’t stop to consider whether this is a fair assumption or not. You do not want to eliminate yourself from the race at this early stage by simply trying to show some personality in an industry where creativity is not of utmost importance.

4. Does Not Compute
Most medium and large companies now use applicant tracking system (ATS) software to scan resumes for the desired keywords they want to see on a resume. However, this software is built to work with word-based documents. Simple changes in formatting can mean that an ATS can’t read your resume, so a visually pleasing, design heavy document can wreak havoc here. If the software cannot read your resume the recruiter may contact you and ask you to send it in another format, if you’re lucky, or they may just disregard it and move on to the next candidate.

5. Compromises Your First Impression
An over-reliance on design elements in your resume can create a less than desirable first impression. Where you may believe that it speaks well of your capacity for design, a recruiter may interpret this choice as a way to ploy to draw their eye away from weak content or to play down a lack of experience. On the other hand, some recruiters may view a visual resume as a brash statement of over-confidence. Sure, we all want applicants to be confident in their abilities, but we also want candidates who will fit in well to our work environment. This problem is less likely to arise if you follow the format of a traditional resume.

Visual resumes may be useful for some candidates, but they must be approached with all of the above concerns in mind. If, after careful consideration, you still feel that it is the right approach for you, then ensure that the design does not overpower the resume, but rather acts as a way to enhance the rock solid content that you have worded meticulously.

Mary Frenson is a Marketing Professional at, a new source of information on UK companies. Mary freely and continually shares her marketing ideas and thoughts on business issues.


Annie Cerone