Be prepared for your next professional move.

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The fact is that even if you're not actively looking for another job, you're open to growth opportunities, and, of course, more money. A recent survey by Jobvite found that 41% of 30-39 year-olds see their current job as a stepping stone. If you're in the tech industry, you're likely to change jobs every one to five years. Just in case someone might be hunting for someone just like you, it pays to be prepared for your next move. Here are some key steps you should take:

1. Make sure that the content and profiles in your social media networks are complete, consistent, and up to date... and appropriate for public consumption. This includes primarily Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Thirty percent of job seekers in the tech industry, according to Jobvite, are constantly keeping their profiles up to date on Twitter, on the bus or train commuting to work, and looking for job postings. And you thought they were checking their e-mails!

2. Keep your résumé up to date. You may want to strike while the iron's hot if a job posting comes along that you want to jump on. Remember that for every high-level job posting, a hiring manager receives an average of 200 résumés. Your résumé is part of your personal brand, so make sure that it distinguishes you, not only in the content, but by how it's designed and organized. Six-page résumés with the names, descriptions, and day-to-day activities of every company you've worked for, even if short-lived, in a Times Roman typeface (no less), are not very impressive, and show that you haven't taken the time to keep your résumé current and relevant, so that a recruiter or hiring manager can determine fairly easily that you're the person they're looking for.

3. Never EVER EVER have a typo in your résumé or your cover letter. No matter how smart you are, it's amazing how many typos just slip by undetected. This includes inconsistent parts of speech, punctuation, grammar and misspellings. By preparing early and thoroughly, you can avoid dashing something off that may be summarily discarded in the round file. With this said, many professionals, unless you're a professional writer, journalist or English major, are not writers and do not see errors that stand out like a sore thumb to a hiring manager. It's worth seeking the help of a professional who can review, correct, and polish your résumé.

4. Think about your personal brand and what makes you stand out. There may be some achievements in your résumé that set you apart, or there may be areas where you excelled versus your peers or the industry average that aren't in your résumé at all. Or, there may some special awards or honors you received that deserve more than a mere mention at the bottom of your résumé. This is where the addition of an infographic résumé can make you shine. It's a relatively new concept for résumés that is attracting the interest of hiring managers. Who wouldn't want visual relief from 200 black & white mind-numbing résumés!  The use of meaningful graphics to showcase quantifiable information will resonate with someone who is evaluating candidates based on their relevant experience, delivery of results, unique talents and contributions to their companies, as well as showing an engaging story about the candidate. A breath of fresh air, for sure.

5. It's O.K. to seek professional help. In this case, we mean it's O.K. to admit that you can't do it all by yourself.  Many professionals recognize that, as good as they are at their jobs, they are not equipped, nor interested, nor have the time to get prepared for their next career move. Merit by Sight™ is a company that is solely dedicated to helping professionals and active job seekers prepare for their next move and is a "one-stop shop" for all of the elements that create your personal brand and those that are addressed in this article. Get prepared with the help of Merit by Sight's team of business and graphic design professionals by contacting them at meritbysight.com. As the saying goes, "Success is where preparation and opportunity meet."

 

How to Kill an Infographic Résumé – Over-design it.

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Infographics have taken off over the last decade as a way to show complicated information in a visually compelling and accessible way. They've been used by government agencies to show environmental impact study results, global warming trends, employment statistics, you name it.  The reason infographics gained in popularity was because they could, and I mean, could make information more engaging as an informative visual tool. Some graphic designers who have created these graphic marvels have seen infographics as a way to set themselves apart, not the information, as if it were a design contest. Graphic illustrations of information are often so convoluted and hard to understand that the information is buried in a mind-numbing distraction of colors and gratuitous graphics that obscure the data, not highlight it.

Now, infographics are showing up in the employment world in the form of infographic résumés as a means to show an individual 's accomplishments, skills and unique qualifications in a visually engaging way. Sounds like a great way to distinguish yourself from the hundreds of job seekers you might be competing with for a single job posting. And since most jobs are posted online, it helps to have a leg up to capture the interest of hiring professionals and to set yourself apart. What better way than with graphics to highlight key accomplishments that may be buried in a traditional résumé.

First, you need to understand the simple mantra for an effective infographic résumé: Don't over-design. Repeat. Don't over-design. It should stick with you like "eat more chicken". You may not be sure where the line is drawn between a clean, visually informative infographic résumé, and one that's over-designed.

Here are a few tips:

1. Avoid solid dark backgrounds and small text that is impossible for anyone to read without cheaters.

2. Pick three or maybe four "quantifiable" success measurements that you're particularly proud of that could be converted to graphs, charts, or other visual graphics that you may not be able to envision, but someone else, perhaps a restrained graphic designer, could.

3. Think about what you want to highlight about yourself – what qualities you possess that could be incorporated as your own unique personal brand. Are you all about numbers, and delivering for your company?  Do you love to make money for worthwhile organizations? Do you have a somewhat patchy career path, but have accomplishments that you're proud of and want to highlight?

4. You know yourself better than anyone, but the outward expression of who you are and what you have to offer may be best expressed visually with graphics than a large amount of words in the (ancient) traditional text-only résumé. But the key is not to what? Not over-design. Keep it clean, pleasing, and worthy of a contact from someone you want to get in touch with you.

 

 

 

 

An Infographic Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.

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Most traditional résumés show a chronological employment history, job descriptions, and results. You managed a department, you generated sales, you improved process, etc.  They often don't include how much you made the company compared to the industry average, how much you exceeded goals compared to your peers, or by what percentage you grew revenue year over year. The numbers tell the story, but comparative numbers are even more compelling in order to differentiate yourself. A way to show important numbers, quantifiable success measurements, and impressive comparisons is with infographics, or graphics that visually present key numbers and information.

The Value of Infographics

The value of an infographic résumé for job seekers is gaining traction in industries where showing professional accomplishments with charts, graphs and unique graphics, which you may not be able to envision, is proving to be more powerful than just a traditional résumé. An infographic résumé may contain several infographics highlighting your key accomplishments, experience, and skills. Also, if you are seeking a new career direction or have a patchy, non-linear career path, an infographic résumé is a perfect way to highlight only what you want to showcase that sets you apart and makes you a perfect fit for your next career move.

There are three key uses for an infographic résumé:

1. It allows you to tell the story you want to tell about yourself, along, of course, with the required chronological litany of jobs and descriptions on your traditional résumé.

2. It enhances your profile on LinkedIn, so that when recruiters or hiring managers come hunting for candidates, your infographic résumé captures their attention and peaks their interest.

3. It serves as an impressive, professional handout at an interview and steers the conversation in the direction you want it to go.

The key is to use clean graphics that enhance the numbers and key information, not obscure them. If it doesn't showcase your strengths in an easily understandable way, it could hurt you more than help you. If done professionally, however, an infographic résumé shows a future employer in an eye-catching and compelling way why you are uniquely qualified for a particular position, because you are in control of the picture you want to paint.

Producing a well-designed infographic résumé is not something most individuals are equipped to do on their own. It requires the ability to extract key achievements and important comparisons that may be buried in your traditional résumé, or may not be there at all, and designing graphs, charts, and appropriate graphic elements in a professional presentation. It could, however, be one of the best investments you could make to further your career. A picture is worth a thousand words if that picture tells a story as well, if not better, than a large amount of mind-numbing text.

You’re Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link.

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If you’re in the market looking for a new job, it’s not as simple as it used to be. In the past, you could apply online, send your resumé and wait for a reply to get to meet a hiring manager. Now, the hiring managers expect more, and if you don’t stand out from the pack, you don’t stand a fighting chance of getting an interview. A clean, well-organized, traditional resumé is still a requirement, but is only one element or link in your personal presentation.

The Role of an Infographic Resumé Infographic resumés are gaining traction in certain industries as a way to stand out. Graphic designers are starting to use them, because they can, and have the skills and ability to be creative. But, creativity is not the key ingredient for a “good” infographic resumé. An infographic resumé is a way to highlight or showcase visually the key performance measures, comparisons, differentiating skills, and shows a potential employer why and how you are particularly suited for the position you want. If it’s over-designed and hard to understand, the potential employer will discard it.

It’s called an “infographic” resumé for a reason. The graphics are meant to support or enhance the information, not overpower it. Information should be highlighted that may be buried or not even included in your traditional resumé. Most of the infographic resumés we’ve seen could win design contests, but would never earn an interview in most professional industries.

Your Personal Brand The infographic resumé should reflect your personal brand, what makes you unique. We refer to the infographic resumés we produce for our customers as “design themes”, with a look and feel that is applied to your personal letterhead, personal calling card, and personal identity, or logo. All of these are links that tie together to show a cohesive personal presentation designed to get the attention and impress a potential employer.

The Social Media Link You may not be aware that social media can jeopardize your job search efforts. A survey conducted of over 1,800 recruiters and human resource professionals by Jobvite revealed that 55% of recruiters reconsidered a candidate based on their social profile, and 61% of those were negative reconsiderations. In other words, for the majority of hiring professionals, social media is the “weeding out” link. This is a huge red flag, but it can be avoided if you figure out what needs to be done to cleanup your social media footprint before applying for a job.

The bottom line is that if you want to get ahead and to have the best shot at making a positive impression, you need to have all of the links in the chain as strong as possible. You most likely will need professional help in putting your personal presentation together, so that you are positioned correctly and appropriately and ready to go full speed ahead.