There is considerable debate within the career, job search, and resume creation sectors regarding the benefits of having a resume that maximizes visual appeal or keeping the resume format simple and more traditional and business-like. From my standpoint, the answer is “it depends.”
Before I start, there is nothing that will replace compelling and priority directed resume content that sends employers a strong message about your experience, accomplishments, credentials, and value-added benefits that set you apart from others. However, the conversation can become quite heated when focusing on the value of a highly complex, visually dominant resume format in attracting the attention you need for a successful job search campaign.
One important benefit of having a resume document with a photo, separate testimonials, graphs, and other visuals is that it can make someone really proud of the document and eager to show if off. A job search can be grueling and demoralizing, so having a resume that brings out the WOW in others can be uplifting.
Unfortunately, these documents are limited primarily to hard copy distribution and hand-delivery because they will not survive applicant tracking software or the crazy things job board software does to customize electronic resumes on their sites. You never want to upload a resume with photos, graphics, tables, columns, and text boxes to an employer’s website or job board.
Another problem with visually enhanced resumes is that you do not know what operating system or memory or storage capabilities the employer on the other end is using. If the document cannot be opened, it is a waste of time to even send it.
One solution that allows people to have the “loaded” resume format, while also feeling comfortable that it can be read and scanned is to create multiple formats for specific distribution. Have the most visually appealing resume available for use in applying for positions through the mail or hand-delivered and for interviews, while creating a simpler, more straight-forward formatted version for online applications. It is not that hard to redesign the Mercedes version of the resume for more utilitarian use and ensure that it will survive the application tracking software or other customization processes.
Personally, I do not believe that all resumes must be traditional, business-like documents as many career and job search coaches and resume writers contend. I do not see a problem with resumes fitting the personalities of people and being more expressive with photos, graphs, columns, testimonials, etc. This can actually strengthen the moral and motivation of many people using these resumes which is critical to finding a great job. However, it is critical to keep in mind that these types of resumes will not survive most online application processes, so create a more utilitarian version as well for uploading.