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culture

Vizualize.me Illustrates the Resumé

A new Toronto startup wants job seekers to display their skills and experience with slick visuals.

A screenshot of Vizualize.me's representation of job history.

Infographics have become a hot trend, with everything from preventable death figures to Star Wars translated into accessible, well-designed illustrations. It’s no surprise, given how infographics organize and contextualize data into an easily digestible format. A new Toronto startup hopes to apply the simplicity of infographics to our working lives.

Inspired by an infographic resumé created by a journalism studentVizualize.me pulls data from LinkedIn and transforms resumés into a series of colourful charts and graphs to help prospective employers get a better sense of a candidate’s working history. Co-founder Eugene Woo [no relation to this post's author] thinks the resumé is due for an update: “Resumés are very boring and long and an old format.”

In addition, Woo says there needs to be the inclusion of social media components. “All the information is static and it doesn’t reflect our new online profiles, which are often very dynamic and a lot more interesting than what you can put on text.” Woo believes that our lives are now online, which is also reflected in the job market by services such as LinkedIn. “We’re not just trying to bring visualization,” he explains, “but to go deeper to bring insights and to connect to the different parts of your online accomplishments and personality into one profile.”

Some of the illustrations are stronger than others. For example, a bar graph composed of rounded rectangles (or semi-circles or triangles) to mark time in a job makes sense giving spatial proportion to something that can look flat as digits on a page. Conversely, a world map shaded to indicate mastery of languages feels like overkill and makes the information more fussy than on a traditional resume.

A world map showing languages spoken by country is pretty but unnecessary.

The company is still young, though, having launched in early June of this year, and it remains in beta; we expect the less successful illustrations will be jettisoned. Woo confirmed as much, saying Vizualize.me will be improved in continual “iterations.” The startup will get plenty of feedback—over 180,000 people signed up for the private beta.

Thus far, Vizualize.me has targeted young workers. “They’re on board,” says Woo. “They get it, they understand it.” He believes the service will have appeal beyond the early adopters—based on the widespread popularity of social media services such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—and job hunters will see it as a harbinger for the era of the infographic-based resumé.

The biggest issue Vizualize.me faces is that graphs and charts are most useful as comparative tools and in a resumé there are too many standalone data points. Although seeing five-and-a-half shaded suitcases to represent 11 years of work experience is fun, in isolation there isn’t much insight added. And, in the end, if an infographic can’t bring greater meaning to data, then it amounts to no more than putting lipstick on a pig.

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