In a competitive job market, it’s crucial to stand out and get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. Creating a creative, visual resume is one way to stand out amongst the boring, text-based, standard resumes. Follow this how-to guide and create a creative, visual resume in Slideshare (or Prezi, PowerPoint or Google Slides), for easy sharing, in just six steps.

There are several tools available online tools to create a visual resume, such as and Resumup. The biggest advantage of these tools is that they are easy to create. Just import your Linkedin profile and you’re done. The biggest disadvantage of these tools is that they’re summaries of your LinkedIn profile but without a story or theme. Because a clear story is missing, resumes created with these tools look nice but are light content wise. In order to have a resume that really stands out, you need to have great content AND visual appeal.

Tell a unique visual story with your resume

If you want to tell a unique visual story then you have to put more effort in and create something custom. Presentation software like PowerPoint and SlideShare are excellent tools to tell a visual story if used right. In this article, I’m going to show you how to create a visual resume in Slideshare.

The reason I chose SlideShare, is because you can easily send a link to recruiters, share on social media or embed the presentation on a website. The same goes for Google Slides or Prezi if you prefer those tools.

Visual storytelling: What do you want to tell?

What's your story paper on a wooden table

Before you get started to create your visual resume, you must first think about what it is you want to tell. What message do you want to communicate to your future employer?

Therefore, focus on your story first and don’t pay any attention to the software tools until you’ve got your story right. Only after you’ve formulated a compelling story, can you think about how visuals can enhance your story. Finally, you’ve visualized everything, you can put it all together in SlideShare, PowerPoint, Prezi or Google Slides, depending on your preference.

Step 1: Think about your core message

The first thing you need to think about is what message you want to communicate. Or put differently, what should people really remember after reading your visual resume? What is your core message?

Try to summarize your resume (your story) to just one sentence. This one sentence is your core message. Try to follow these three requirements when formulating your core message: Formulate it as one sentence, describe yourself, distinguish yourself.

Core message for a presentationIf you’ve already optimized your LinkedIn profile, you can, for example, use the headline of your LinkedIn profile if it meets these three criteria. Your core message is the main theme on which you’ll base the rest of your visual resume. Therefore, try out different sentences and be critical of each sentence.

This first step of getting your core message right is the most important step. So, spend sufficient time on it. Once you’ve got the core message right, you’ll see the following steps will be like painting by numbers.

Step 2: Support your core message

Once you’ve formulated your core message, the next step will be to gather evidence that supports your core message. Without proof, your core message is just a hollow phrase. The ‘evidence’ for supporting your core message will, of course, come from your job experience, education and other activities you’ve undertaken over course of your career.

What have you done and achieved during your (professional and academic) life that supports your core message? Gather as many ideas as possible. Everything is a potential piece of evidence to validate your core message. Don’t be too critical of your ideas at this stage yet. Quality is less important than quantity in this step.

Write down everything you’ve done in detail. Then try to group all your ideas to specific topics, like function types, expertise, skills, industries, etc. With all the ideas grouped by topic, try to formulate one sentence for each topic which best describes your overall experience with that specific topic.

Step 3: The art of omission

omitting ideasIn step 2, it was quantity over quality when you tried to gather as many ideas as possible. In this step, you’re going to make a critical selection of activities and results that really support your core message. The goal is to only keep the best and most relevant ideas. Any idea that doesn’t support your core message can be deleted.

It doesn’t matter how interesting an idea is. If the idea doesn’t support your core message, you can delete it. This may be the hardest part. You may want to show as much as possible about what you’ve done, and what you could do for a future employer. But the problem is that anything that doesn’t directly support your core message, is a distraction that diverts attentions from your core message and thus weakens your story.

Step 4: Visualize your ideas

Now that all the irrelevant and mediocre ideas have been deleted, it’s time to finally start visualizing your main ideas. Only now can you open up your presentation software of choice. The goal is to visualize your ideas per topic on a slide.

Create visuals Post-itTry not to put too much information on one slide. Instead, focus on just one topic per slide. Don’t be a cheapo with the slides. Slides are free, so you don’t have to cram all information on one slide in order to ‘save’ slides.

In the previous steps, you’ve already formulated topics and formulated one sentence per topics to describe it. Now, think about what would best visualize a particular topic. Do this for each topic.

For the visuals, you can use different sources depending on your personal preference. The whole internet is a pool of inspiration to find the right visual, or you can create the images yourself. The latter is much more fun as well.

Make the pictures yourself:

  • Old fashioned with pen or pencil and paper is often the best way to shape an idea. Grab pieces of paper and start sketching. Stick figure may do if you convey your message
  • Use tools Photoshop or Illustrator, if you know how to use them
  • Grab your camera and shoots photos yourself
  • Create image with tools like Canva

If you do not feel like making pictures yourself, there are various alternatives:

  • Hire a designer if you have the budget
  • Use stock photo sites like Shutterstock, 123RF, Dreamstime, etc.
  • Use Google Images to find the perfect visuals. Keep in mind though, that most images you find on the internet are copyrighted

Whatever method you decide to use, try to use unique images. How distinctive will your resume be, if you use the same stock photos everyone else is already using? Make it something unique. Also, use images that reflect your personal style.

Step 5: Combining text and visuals

The power of presentation software is that you can effortlessly combine text and visuals. Pictures only produce a nice slideshow, but without a story to follow. A text-only presentation may tell a story, but is boring and is less powerful than a visual story.

Therefore you should combine both. Accompany the visuals with short texts to combine the best of both worlds, and create a powerful visual story. Include a short text for each image. Use for example the sentences you’ve formulated in step 2 for each topic.

Step 6: Share your visual resume

If you’ve followed all the steps and are happy with the result, it’s time to share your visual resume with the world in order to find your dream job. Send a link to your visual resume to the recruiters or hiring managers of the company you’d love to work for. Post your visual resume on social media: Share it for example on Facebook and ask your friends to reshare it, post it on your LinkedIn profile and publish it as a post, share it on Twitter, etc.

Share your ideas

Visual Resume Inspiration

If you need some inspiration, try searching ‘visual resume’ on SlideShare to see what others have made. I’ve also made an example of a visual resume on SlideShare based on my experience at a tech startup, which is embedded below.

Good luck and have lots of fun!

This article originally appeared in Dutch on Frankwatching, the largest marketing blog in the Netherlands for which I’ve written articles in the past.

Image credits: Header image © aniwhite / 123RF Stockfoto What’s your story © mandameeca / 123RF Stock Photo Share © rawpixel / 123RF Stock Photo