Impressions Matter

Thinking & writing about belief, behavior, and change

If you’re curious, here’s how not to make an infographic

If you’re looking for an example of what not to do when it comes to infographics, you need look no further than this troubling and not particularly useful infographic / post from Ragan PR called “The Anatomy of a Great Resume.”

There are a couple of things wrong with the infographic:

One is the choice of using a woman’s body in a bikini to break down what you should or shouldn’t do. I won’t get into a long drawn out history of how tasteless and offensive that trope is, but it’s tired at best because it reinforces objectification of women’s bodies. For the record I’d be as disgusted if it was a man’s body or someone who is androgynous but because the female form has been used in this way for so long it’s especially aggravating. There’s also a neat little insult about body hair, which I’d imagine alienates a certain percentage of people who don’t feel the same way as the author.

The second problem is that at it’s core it’s also not a good or useful visual representation of the data around finding a job. It reads like a stack of statistics someone decided would look nifty in an infographic. It doesn’t provide real context for the larger problem, which is that if HR managers are looking at your resume it’s probably a shot in the dark to get the job anyway.

What’s that you say? You’ve got some statistics about how HR managers look for keywords in resumes? Of course you do. HR managers often don’t have the time, expertise, training, or even instructions to do anything else.

Nick Corcodilos nicely outlines this problem in his recent Ask the Headhunter column, “The Talent Shortage Myth and Why HR Should Get Out of the Hiring Business.

Needless to say, the infographic might be better titled “How to Make a Great Resume That No One Will Read Anyway.” Although, to be fair,  the advice about being clear and concise, that is the one thing I’d say is truly valuable.

It also highlights a much bigger problem, that data and data visualizations don’t live in a vacuum where they are instantly interesting, cool, and/or useful just because they exist. This is the unspoken truth about all content: no matter how nifty a delivery method you’ve devised, it can still suck.

Unfortunately the vapid, “common sense” advice this infographic presents is becoming more and more common.

What’s the end result? I’ve got a negative impression of the infographic, the author of the post,, and  “” whoever they are. It’ll take at least a few good impressions to override this one, because unfortunately a bad taste sticks around a while and takes a long time to disappear.

What’s your impression?


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This entry was posted on April 3, 2013 by in Belief, content, Impressions and tagged , , , , .
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