How to Waste Months of Time Creating a Useless Resume

Some write-off the ‘infographic resume’ as worthless but I, unknowingly, took it a step further

So let’s jump right in and clear up your initial question which is probably “the hell did you (try to) make?” Good question. The answer? Just your typical resume using all the Adobe Creative Suite apps we’ve come to know. It’s a well-designed and informative resume put together in InDesign and saved out as a PDF. That’s all I did, I swear!

OK. OK. Fine! It’s an interactive PDF. There, I said it. You happy now?

Your next question is either “the hell is an interactive resume?” or “how’d you think that was going to work anyway?”. Both are very good questions and are easy to answer. The latter taking a few additional paragraphs though.

The interactive resume is more or less just a user-friendly version of the typical, static, stationary resume; having various modules and elements that one can engage with to uncover additional information. In best case scenarios, the interactive features are created with the intention to fit more information into the same spatial area. The goal would be to simplify the initial view of an infographic, for example, or can be as simple as a button, an outbound link to a website or to download a file via the web. At it’s most basic form and most popular format, a hover or click will display additional and relevant details.

So far, a majority of you would likely believe that the interactive resume, as it has been described, seems like a fairly interesting idea. At the very least, it doesn’t sound too bad, right? I mean, essentially it’s a CV/resume with hidden gems and bonus features to explore! As long as the critical and necessary details are easily legible and the interactive elements are intelligently utilized without disrupting the overall design, then who can knock it? Moreover, if the ‘hidden’ interactive elements are mostly superfluous, then it should be, in theory anyway, seen as a more detailed, more engaging, better resume.

Print design job qualification skills needed: Logos, package design, publication advertising creation, signage (in-house & outdoor), corporate brand maintenance, flyer design, website graphic development and optimization. Marketing management experience a plus.

Now, let’s get to the reasoning and one’s rationale for beginning such a project. Because, it was not without deep contemplation and consideration for the alternative…designing your ‘day-to-day’, run-of-the-mill, average-Joe, blah-blah-boring curriculum vitae (CV), er uh, resume, I mean.

The main thought behind the decision was this: I’m not the typical, ‘average’ graphic designer so why should my resume be? In fact, the job I am pursuing is that of a full-stack designer. A graphic designer that is equally skilled and comfortable creating print graphics: logos, billboards, t-shirts, flyers, marketing materials as well as website design, hosting, SEO and web development inc. coding (HTML & CSS3 via preprocessors like SASS and LESS). I believe those skills performed at expert level are enough to warrant an application for the job.

Since ‘full-stack designer’ is a newer term, the exact skills necessary are a bit ambiguous as of 2017. My extensive and diverse work history lead to a very wide range of expertise and experiences in so many different areas of print and web design. Some of the individual skills, such as SEO technician, could fill up a chunk of a resume with details alone! Actually, some individual skill may be a reason in and of itself for an employer to hire someone.

I’m sure those reading this would have to believe I’m an arrogant, ‘know-it-all’ hotshot who is merely using this as a slimy way to promote myself.

It’s not AT ALL the way I intended this article to sound. The true reasoning for mentioning all of these items is to establish the motive behind my interactive design decision.

Collect ’em all! Packaged graphic & web design services in a box…brilliant! Now, this might not be enough for a Full-Stack Front-End Designer position!

Basically, I’m like a growing number of graphic designers..a hybrid species..print AND web design gurus. If you’re like me, you know Photoshop just as well as your favorite IDE (Sublime Text for me as I write this). These are two very diverse skillsets. And, if you also have the strong NEED to be doing both, then you know exactly where I’m coming from!

That desire, I feel, is not only beneficial for my happiness, but also for the company hiring me. Why that is, I’m not certain but I have a theory: a compulsion to ensure the initial branding design elements are utilized correctly. Possibly, it’s an underlying “control-freak” issue, but if those around me, my coworkers, understand the brand, then I’m completely OK with a team effort.

Enough about me. This is not about my skillset. It’s strictly for the sake of proving a point for those of us who have (too) many hireable skills. Marketing oneself with a vast background and pertinent experiences is the issue. Somehow, figuring out how to properly illustrate those talents in a clean and clever way is the solution.

My brilliant idea was so bright that I thought it was practically necessary to create an interactive PDF. An obvious no-brainer!

Because of the lengthy set of skills that needed further explanations, a clever, show/hide, interactive design is a simple yet powerful technique to clean up a busy layout. Creating the functionality to allow show & hide features is invaluable for space conscious layouts. It helps the design to appear clean, light, legible and manageable to read.

Well, here is the interactive PDF resume, looking all innocent. Who knew such a small, pretty file could lead to such unsolvable problems & issues? Aside from me, I mean.

So, here it is. This is what I came up with. “What we got here is failure to communicate.” JK. We have here an interactive resume! A resume that had some level of feedback, animation and interactivity. To display a bit of UI / UX design skills (of which I have very few examples), the infographic iconography is 100% customized, along with everything else. Also, when used correctly, infographics can be an invaluable tool for displaying large amounts of data in a small, elegant fashion. Something that I considered perfect for this resume, where space was limited and a need to break up big chunks of important information.

Oh ya, just like this!

We graphic designers and digital layout artists are taught on day one the importance of engaging viewers. Day two? Text heavy layouts are boring and overlooked by simplistic, clever design solutions. It’s no wonder graphic artists are drawn to infographics as they are a terrific solution for a very common problem.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then an infographic is priceless.

But, that’s not breaking any new ground. Infographic resumes are all the rage nowadays. Hiring designers to help my company(s), showcased this point dramatically. Just a quick google search of “CV design templates” and tell me there’s not a shockingly high number of resumes using infographic elements.

Animated GIF showing some of the interactive effects.

Knowing that excessive amounts of infographic resumes are flooding the inboxes of employers, it was imperative for me to go that extra step further. I firmly believed to adequately attract attention to all of the info, numbers, graphs and charts was interactivity.

That decision lead to a road covered with potholes, detours and wrong-way signs!

I crafted this with painstaking precision in Photoshop and Illustrator. I then brought all of these graphics (vector elements only) together in InDesign. It took at least 50 hours to build. And that does not include the handful of initial concepts and layouts. A few of which went quite a ways before realizing it was not up to snuff.

Putting the creation of this resume aside (maybe for another, less repetitive article), the end result was a very polished, meticulously designed and overall, a well thought out interactive PDF resume. “It’s a thing of beauty,” and “whoa, that is coooool” were the reactions I received upon showing my close colleagues and those around me. I had done it!

The weight off my back, all I had to do now is build a little online portfolio site to introduce myself. Employers would click thru the minisite, viewing some portfolio samples and then click “view resume,” and presto, it’d be in their face in fullscreen! It’d be isolated in a black surrounding area with a fully colored. And, nearly every element of the resume is full of moused-over feedback items glowing brightly. Well, guess what…none of that happened.

As it turns out, browsers aren’t very keen to initiall yusing Adobe’s PDF Reader or their software. Meaning the vast number of people who had not recently installed Adobe PDF extensions were treated to a text-less, shell of a resume. Moreover, even if they had the extension, it needed to be updated to the latest version and required a restart to boot (pun intended)!

Fullscreen preview of the interactive PDF file [1800x1200 size]

I believe some browsers are completely unable to display any type of PDF file, let alone an interactive one.

Before learning all of this was a quest in uselessness, I had the following on my website. I naively believed there HAD TO BE a way for EVERYONE to view an Acrobat file!?! Then I figured interactive PDFs could then just be converted into some kind of format for easy web viewing. It’s not like I made this in 2010…it’s 2017 and I’m just overlooking something ’cause, c’mon, everyone needs to view PDFs once in while, right?

… to accommodate this, here are three ways to see it…
View PDF Online
- Click to see if it can be viewed in your browser (loads in new window)
View with Flash
- This option seems to work well…well, only if you have Flash that is
Download PDF
- Open the file offline using Adobe Acrobat® or similar software

It took two weeks or so to come to the devastating realization that even with these instructions, it still wasn’t going to work adequately in about half of the browsers and/or devices.

Here are the underlying issues, put succinctly by Joel Geraci, an Acrobat and PDF Guru…

Unfortunately, there is no way to embed a PDF inside an HTML page and have it behave consistently. You can’t even have the PDF file be downloaded and run locally and expect that end users will have the same experience as the author. There are just too many PDF viewers available that don’t implement the specification correctly or fully.

Fiddlesticks!!!!!!

I certainly wish I had seen that before beginning this nightmare ordeal. Months of tedious work, learning the latest InDesign approaches to creating the interactivity and the correct file setup was all done in vain. That this article is going to be seen by more people then that resume will is quite ironic and, moreso, an utter disappointment.

As I finish writing this self depricating, soul crushing article with a sole purpose of bringing about the not-so-obvious difficulties invovled in crafting interactive promotional work, I stumble upon this piece…The Problem With Interactive Graphics — In a nutshell: People aren’t interacting with them. Oh how very appropriate and timely!

The backup, 100% vector, infographic resume for those who have difficulty viewing interactive PDF files

I’d like point out one last fact. Yes, I could have built the resume as a ‘web page’ and kept all the interactivity intact. But my thinking was that it should be able to be printed. Creating a website and then designing a hi-res, print-ready document did not occur to me, seeing as that would have involved unnecessary work.

I still believe the idea of an informative interactive resume can be a thing of beauty, if done correctly. Also, they’d be appreciated by job recruiters. Clicking on the previous employment job that is of most importance, right out of the gate, is a huge time-saver. This way, applicants’ submissions can essentially be trimmed for better focusing into that qualification.

Am I the only one that feels there should be some kind of universal interactive PDF support for the web? Maybe someone happens to know of any new conversion techniques? If not, then Adobe needs to drop the interactivity from InDesign! OK. OK. Fine, keep it in. How about just a disclaimer message warning, “Not for resume use?”

For a timeline reference, work on the PDF version was begun early February 2016 and completed (1st round) a few months later, around June 2016.

True story by David Grant. Founder of infin80 creative | Web & Graphic Design @ https://www.infin80.com. Resume site @ http://resume.infin80.com. Email: design@infin80.com