New Trends In Job Hunting—Is Your Résumé Instagram-Worthy?
Yes, you read that right.
Static, text résumés are out—and image-focused “Instagram” résumés are the way the world is moving. This trend was summarized well in a recent Wall Street Journal podcast, described by J. R. Whalen:
“Generation Z, or people born after 1998, are revolutionizing the résumé-writing process, adding in photos, emoji, and animation, to help tell their story. But not every employer thinks it’s very cute.”
Adding emojis and animations to résumés. The idea was unthinkable just 10 years ago, but younger applicants are flooding the marketplace and challenging the preconceived notions of what a “good” résumé looks like.
Note that “challenging” isn’t the same thing as “changing.” There’s been plenty of pushback on this Instagram résumé trend, and much of it is justified.
How much personalization is too much?
The idea that résumés would turn visual isn’t a surprise for those in the recruiting game. Most of us should have seen it coming, given that we’re the ones who started it.
It’s considered best practice to add “personality” to résumés; to catch the recruiter’s eye, and make your name stand out in a sea of options. Applicants are told that personalization will increase their chances of a callback, so naturally, they personalize it in the ways they’re familiar with.
(And it makes sense that our younger Gen Z applicants, who aren’t as familiar with traditional business practices, would try to differentiate themselves with these…less-than-traditional approaches.)
But where do we draw the line, here?
No recruiter would argue against résumé personalization in general, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one who would suggest adding a Bitmoji to your application. (The very thought sounds crazy to us grizzled recruiters—but applicants these days really are doing this.)
Because come on. Photos are one thing, and we can even get behind a well-crafted illustration for image-based applications (like graphic designers make create), but should we really encourage young job-seekers to integrate so many flashy social elements into their applications?
The drawbacks of unrestrained creativity
It’s not hard to see why this trend is problematic, from a traditional recruiting standpoint.
Cartoons on a résumé are unnecessary and unprofessional. Recruiters don’t need to see 10 photos of you when one will do. And no recruiter will be impressed with a résumé printed on pink and green pastels rather than white card stock.
Fundamentally, this is a question of style over substance. Do these elements really add value to a résumé? Or are they just another way for applicants to push their personal brands for the sake of differentiation?
There are also technical issues to consider when you start going visual. If companies use applicant tracking systems to sort résumés by keywords or terms, your résumé’s graphics will never even get seen until you make it further down the pipeline. And while graphics may not hurt you here, the problem comes when applicants neglect these essential keyword elements in favor of aesthetic changes.
In this way, getting too wild with style won’t just make you appear unprofessional—it’ll actively crash your job hunt.
Balancing substance and style
In truth, there’s no cut-and-dry answer on whether this trend is positive.
While it might seem obvious to avoid cartoon Bitmojis in your résumé, there are certain industries where a creative touch is welcome. A personal logo, drawings of your work, or other portfolio-esque elements can be great additions, as long as you aren’t sacrificing the substance in your résumé in the process.
In other words, creative flourishes can be nice, but they won’t replace your skills, work experience, or the way you sell yourself in your application. Younger applicants may turn to these tactics to hide their lack of experience, but it’s a trend that experienced job seekers should avoid. Keep this in mind as you design your résumé, and when in doubt, stick to the basics.