Graduates up and down the UK are looking for their perfect career after university has finished. Long gone are the lectures and seminars and out come the CVs which may not have been updated since their last job.
The summer is a time where students are drastically trying to edit their CV to perfection in the hope of getting that dream job which they think their degree alone has secured. Out come the Word documents containing phrases such as “a highly organised English graduate looking for a job in the media” and “I have 10 GCSES so would love to work in Public Relations”.
Whilst these statements aren’t exactly bad to include in a CV, they aren’t particularly exciting either.
As a soon-to-be graduate myself I have been frequently told to “show off” my skills and to avoid regurgitating overused CV phrases which most of the time fail to excite a potential employer.
Students are bombarded with ‘CV Dos & Don’ts’, and CV advice is often contradictory; so it is no wonder that sometimes students get it wrong. But, does this problem relate to the way students are writing their CVs or is it because traditional paper CVs are seen as the golden ticket and only ticket to a job?
Enter the visual CV
The graduate job market is competitive; this alongside the increase of students using social media, has made way for the online CV or what is known as a visual CV – an alternative way to showcase skills.
On the one hand, I can see the benefits of the traditional CV. If organised into clear sections with the relevant skills, then it may well land you a job.
It has been used by HR managers to sort out the best from all the rest for years, so it must be effective. However, with vastly competitive job positions such as those within marketing and public relations, there needs to be something which distinguishes you from the hundreds of mundane and ‘shopping list- style CVs’.
Another reason why the visual CV may give people an advantage is the ability this CV has to support the skills you have claimed on paper.
For instance, being social media savvy is a skill that is sought-after by recruiters in these sectors. What’s more, to demonstrate to a potential employer first-hand that you are able to use social media instead of simply writing it on your CV, is an added bonus. This is why a visual CV can prove that you are in touch with the digital world.
The trouble with paper CVs is that often the skills which are written down are not backed up and may be seen by an employer as ‘empty skills’.
In other words, you may know that you have a passion for social media but you also need to remember that the person reading your CV does not know you, which is why creating a visual CV not only states your skills but also demonstrates that you are capable of using digital media to design and create an online profile.
Another advantage of using a visual CV is that it can be easily shared with prospective employers. For instance, a traditional CV is stored away on a laptop for months and is only then shared with an employer when you decide to apply for a job. Whereas, a visual CV provides you with a continuous online presence and can be interlinked with other social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter, meaning that there is more of a chance for your skills to be seen by a potential employer.
Not only is a visual CV good for online networking but it provides you with the opportunity for a potential employer to see your personality. With traditional CVs, usually the only section where an employer can see the person behind the skills is under the title “interests and hobbies”. Whereas, with visual CV sites such as Vizify, you are able to include interesting facts about yourself and favourite inspirational quotes alongside your work history.
This is a great way to showcase not just your work and academic achievements but also present the person behind the formal achievements. Plus, for jobs in the media and PR, personality is just as important as qualifications.
Despite the many advantages of using the visual CV, there are still a few downsides. One reason is that many employers still favour the traditional CV. This is not to say that they will refuse to consider your online profile, in fact some often encourage you to post the URL on your paper CV; but they will place more focus on your traditional CV. Another disadvantage is that most graduates are unaware of online CV sites so will always opt for the two-sides of paper.
So when deciding on whether to create a visual CV, what needs to be considered is the type of industry you are aiming to go into. Online CVs are definitely industry specific. In other words, a brightly coloured profile with images and a variety of fonts may seem appealing for jobs in the creative industries such as advertising; but if applying for an accountancy position, where things are little more traditional, this type of CV may not be taken as seriously compared to the paper CV.
My advice is to create an online CV because having an online presence and a chance to network over social media is always a bonus; but make sure your paper CV is updated regularly and that links to any professional online media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter or Vizify are included within your paper CV.
Finally, there is always a chance that a future employer may favour a visual CV, so by all means ask them which profile they wish to see; so it is always be to your advantage to have both a paper CV and a Visual CV prepared.