Are resume graphics overkill? Should they ever be used over a traditional resume? Find out.

Creative, image-heavy resumes: some might say they are interesting, engaging, artistic and original. But some might also wonder: are they overkill?

You should be extremely cautious when venturing away from traditional resumes towards resume images and graphics. Few hiring managers (in fact I would be so bold as to say most hiring managers) are interested in seeing visuals in a resume. They want the facts – who you are, what skills you have and how your experience has benefited your employers. Visuals may do nothing more than distract them from these crucial facts and details.

However in rare instances, especially in creative fields like graphic design, technology or advertising, hiring managers might be impressed by or even prefer resume graphics. The question is: when do you include those resume images?

Use creative resumes (with resume images) only when prompted in the job description. 

Here's a general rule of thumb to follow: unless the job description for which you're applying deliberately asks for a creative, graphic resume, stick to a traditional one. Why? Because most resumes need to have a simple, text-based format to make it through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS).

Many hiring departments utilize ATS to weed out irrelevant resumes before they even reach the hiring manager. This software, however, cannot “read” fancy fonts, images or creative components of resumes, so if you submit an application with resume graphics and it goes through ATS, it probably won't land you an interview.

Another component to consider is that ATS can have difficulty reading some fonts. Even after the ATS, though they may add creative flair to your resume, people may not find fancy fonts as easy to read. Instead, stay with common fonts such as Cambria, Calibri, or Times New Roman.

For most job openings, it's not about what you think looks pretty or guessing what the company wants from you. A resume is about telling the company what you can do for it. Your accomplishments matter, not the font or fancy resume images.

It's all about knowing your audience.

A creative resume takes certain artistic skills and abilities. What better way to apply for a job that takes those same artistic skills than to show them through your resume? This is very true. If your audience and the job for which you're applying would benefit from resume graphics, it may be OK to do so.

However if you're applying to a job that doesn't require any artistic, creative or graphic skills and abilities, you may want to stick to a modern, text-based resume. Submitting an application with resume images could risk overwhelming the hiring manager and highlighting less important aspects of your resume.

What it all comes down to…

At the end of the day, knowing when to include resume images comes down to your unique situation, the job for which you're applying, the audience who will be viewing your resume, and your applicable skills. It's up to you to make the final decision on when to include resume graphics. Use the above tips as guidance for doing so, and always have a backup plan in the form of a modern, text-based resume.

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