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“Fun-Sized” Resumes: A Sweet Treat or a Horror Story?

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graphic resumeOne of my favorite things about Halloween are the “fun-sized” candies, wrapped for the perfect taste of something sweet that doesn’t diminish the impact of the full-sized candy bars. In job searching, many people use a ‘fun-sized” resume to do the same thing: within one short page, the candidate conveys the most important information about their background, skills, and education. Plus, just like candy, it’s wrapped up in a visually-appealing format to make the tasty tidbits stand out even more.

While a fun-sized resume can be a great marketing tool, they aren’t perfect for all situations. Use it in the right situation, it can open doors with influential hiring managers. Use it in the wrong place, and HR will toss it aside like a kid feeding broccoli to the dog under the table.

 

What is a fun-sized resume?

info-graphic resume

A classic infographic resume

Some people may call them a graphic resume or even an infographic visual resume, but the essence of a fun-sized resume is the perfect balance between design, presentation, and critical information. While a typical resume may be between 700-1,000 words, the fun-sized resume only has 200 – 350 words. In that case, every single word on the resume must be impactful and relevant.

Fun-sized resumes utilize white space to guide the eye and emphasize the important skills, education, experience, and achievements of the job seekers. They frequently incorporate color or bold design choices to stand out from the crowd.

 

graphic or visual resume in red

Some graphic resume still use descriptions.

Sweet treat: when to use a fun-sized resume

Graphic resumes are perfect for networking purposes, whether it is done in person or via email. They are a good option to give to hiring managers, industry insiders, and other valuable connections. You can also use them during job fairs to make an impression on the recruiters.

Of course, visual resumes are always a good choice for anyone in the graphic arts or creative industries. In many ways, your creative resume is an example of your work and design aesthetic.

 

Horror story: when to avoid the fun-sized resume

stylish blocks graphic resume

Even some IT people can use a more visually-based resume.

HR HATES infographic and creative resumes. The fun-sized resumes often don’t have enough key words to get through a screening process, especially when it is a computerized Applicant Tracking System (ATS). To survive the first levels of screening, a resume needs to match the key words within the job description by at least 60-70%. Unfortunately, that includes stupid key words like “excellent communication skills.” Since a fun-sized resume doesn’t waste space on asinine phrases like this, they will almost always be screened out on the key words alone.

Another problem for HR is the fancy formatting. Even if you convert your resume to a PDF, the computers are not likely to parse out, or automatically fill in, your application correctly from the graphic resume. As a result, you will spend a lot of time manually completing or correcting the online application forms to make sure everything is accurate.

More conservative or traditional industries don’t look favorably on the fun-sized resume either. Healthcare, legal, HR, finance, and accounting all tend to favor the traditional resume over something wildly creative.

 

gray blocks visual or graphic resume

Use bold but not confusing design choices.

Best practices for the fun-sized resume

While creative resumes allow you to expand your imagination, you still want to incorporate solid strategies to get the most out of those 250 words:

  • Always email the resume as a PDF – even if it was created with MS Office, Word is notorious for making the same document appear differently on different computers. A PDF guarantees that what you send is what they get.
  • If using a hard copy for events, pay attention to the printing quality and paper stock.
  • Focus on the most important skills for your target job and drop the superfluous ones like “communication skills.”
  • Be careful about using too many logos, graphs or bars that don’t clearly show your value as a candidate.
  • Use a bold design, but not a busy one. The reader should instantly understand what you have to offer.

 

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About the Author:

Since 2004, Donna has been teaching job seekers of all levels effective job search strategies. In 2009, she published her book "Get a Job Without Going Crazy: a Practical Guide to Your Employment Search." Donna is based in Denver, and has presented workshops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Dallas. She continues to work with job seekers across the country.
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