“Vizualizing” Me

Vizualize.me is a free, web-based tool (in beta) that creates a graphical representation of your resume. All you have to do is input your profile information (summary, work experience, education, skills, etc.), select a template, hit Save, and voilà! Professional YOU appears before your eyes – and with a personalized URL no less! Impressive, right?

Well, not quite. At least not yet.

The creators of Vizualize.me strive to be “the future of resumes” by replacing the “boring” (traditional) format with something “beautiful, relevant … fun … [and] personally compelling.” While these lofty goals are nice and all, the real promise of the app is to give users a leg up over the standard resume format by showing relationships in an immediately recognizable way. Pretty shapes and colors alone are not going to get anyone a job – outside the art world, that is!

My curiosity about this application arose from seeing it on a tech-savvy friend’s portfolio and deciding to give it a spin. Now, I readily admit that tools like this are seductive on a few levels: they are pretty and require minimal effort; they focus on one of our favorite topics (ourselves); and not every kid on the block has one. While Vizualize.me certainly scratches these itches, its creators could really unlock its potential by reviewing a few basic design principles.

  1. Find out what (different types of) users need. What are the limitations of the traditional linear, static, chronologically organized resume – and what do job seekers wish it could achieve? And I’m not just referring to job seekers with a monolithic or “traditional” career path – whatever that means today. All I know is, at Career #4 and counting, the stepping stones of my own career path weave in and out in a way that could be interpreted as scattered or chaotic. I would definitely use a tool that alleviated any such suspicion.
  2. Identify and realize your value-add. Under the Themes menu, Vizualize.me lets users choose from a variety of templates. Unfortunately, most of the timeline-oriented ones mark years on a differently sized (and separate) scale. If I wanted to explain how a certain gap in experience was actually filled with full-time grad school, Figure A. would be of no help. Only Figure B.’s organization drives home what I was doing between early 2003 and late 2004 – far more effectively than written resumes with their typically separate Experience and Education sections.
  3. Use color for meaning first, decoration last. The Vizualize.me Style menu allows users to change the color palette in a similar way to how Wordle (the word cloud generator) does. The problem with both tools is that they don’t enable users to assign “meaning” (in my case, a specific skillset or job role) to a given color. Lately I have surprised myself by recycling job titles (“ethnographer”) and revisiting past professional contexts (“non-profit sector”). Using different colors to paint a cohesive picture of how and where my passions overlap and complement one another would enable my resume to speak accurately on my behalf. Figure B. demonstrates what meaning is transmitted when colors are not discretely applied: in a word, none.

Vizualize.me is a nifty tool that certainly sucked me in for the superficial appeals outlined above; by keeping it on my portfolio site for fun as much as anything. If you decide to take it out for a spin, I bet the creators would be thrilled for any input to help this beta version live up to its potential.

horizontally stacked timelines representing education and experience vertical, side-by-side representation of education and experience
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