Should you have a visual CV?

Earlier this year visual CV creator attracted attention when it created CEO of Yahoo Marissa Mayer’s one page CV.  As a visual person it really appealed to me and I have seen others like it but despite the appeal I would be cautious before creating one.

Like many things, CV trends have moved on at a fantastic pace and you might be tempted to create a beautiful visual CV which you hope will help you stand out. But there are pitfalls to watch out for.

The pros of a visual CV

If you think of it as part of your personal brand, a visual CV can say a lot about who you are. From expressing your creativity to your sense of humour it could be a good vehicle for getting over a bit more about who you are, not just what you can do.

The visual layout can be impactful using colour and diagrams to make it look more exciting and draw attention to key bits of information.

If you’re in the creative industries a visual CV could be even more relevant as a way to demonstrate your skills. And if you’re applying direct to employers you could stand out in that pile of CVs which inevitably arrives in response to every job advert.

The cons of a visual CV

However, if you’re working with recruitment agencies, investing in a visual CV will be a waste of time and money. That’s because they use software to load each candidate’s skills and abilities and which searches based on the information it contains. Sending a visual CV means you’ve just made the recruiter’s job harder – and it will never reach the employer as all candidate information is standardised (and often anonymised) before it’s sent over

Amy Stephenson is a recruitment expert and runs Human, a specialist in recruiting for HR positions based in South Yorkshire.

“Content will always be the most important thing in a CV, everything else is just gilding the lily. Visual CVs can be just another distraction, making sifting through them harder and meaning we could potentially miss the most important information about you.”

“Our clients want to see your expertise and skills, not your design abilities – unless your career is in the design industry.”

Equally, if you’re applying for a public sector job you may not even be asked to send a CV as they often have online application systems which get you to fill in some standard boxes – previous roles and education for example – then send a personal statement about why you’re suitable for the role. A visual CV won’t help in this scenario either and there’s also a risk that some companies don’t have the software to open the document!

CV 2.0?

So despite the progress on the format of CVs (my last blog was about the perfect CV, so scroll on down when you’ve finished reading this one) it seems that visual CVs are only useful in a small number of circumstances. So are there any alternatives?

There has been an increasing trend towards people having their own website and including this on job applications. You could think of it as an online CV, but with the ability to showcase projects you’ve worked on and to create mini case studies about your achievements.  Why not look at the cost of buying your name domain?  This doesn’t have to mean an highly professional website that costs the earth but a simple one-page site that is your version of a visual CV.

If you’re diligent you could be working on this even when you’re not thinking about moving roles so that you already have plenty of evidence and information when you decide the time’s right to move on. (For more on this topic, read my blog on how to be prepared for a job interview even when you aren’t looking).

And of course LinkedIn provides a great platform for showcasing your experience and talents, although in a slightly less exciting way than a website could and both would significantly contribute to your SEO presence

So what should you do?

The most important thing when thinking about your CV is to be clear about what you have to offer. Your skills and experience are what any recruiter is looking for, so make sure you’re focused on the value you are able to add to an organisation that employs you. Whether you do this with a traditional CV, a visual CV, your own website or a cracking LinkedIn profile is up to you, just think carefully about what will be right for your audience

If you don’t know where to start or want professional help to put together your CV, give me a call on 07765 894040 and I can take that off your list.

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