The Design Process
I've always felt like my resumes never told the whole story about me. I never spent more than an hour developing my previous resumes. They did not communicate the level of obsessiveness that I pour into my design work. Since HR software filters me out anyway, why not just make a really pretty CV that actual creative directors would appreciate?
Inspired by Edward Tufte's books on visualizing information, I sought out to create an infographic resume. It's not a novel idea. There are a few really good ones out there but most are just full of visual fluff.
How accurate is your own rating of your skills? Anyone can rate themselves a 5 in Photoshop. I wanted my resume to be an infographic but still have substance. There are autogenerated infographic resume sites like vizualize.me but their designs are a one size fits all and get their information from LinkedIn.
To stand out from the other visual resumes, I started by collecting my own data. It took me 1 whole week just to collate all the designs I've ever made plus some info such as when I made it, how many hours it took me, for what purpose, where I made it, how much I got paid for it, etc. It certainly revealed a lot about my design career, but that's another story. Basically my Excel file super zoomed out looked like this:
I'm not sure about other designers but I'm not afraid to touch tools like Excel. It was extremely helpful. (Honestly though, I think the UI could improve a lot.) Now that I had the data, the next step was figuring out which data to display and how to do it. I settled with showcasing my hours as a timeline. But how was I supposed to plot over 8000 points?
Thankfully I knew how to code so I wrote a script to read the csv from the Excel file and output to an svg that I could edit in Illustrator using svgwrite. Even though I calculated the manhours it would take to come up with the code to be slightly more than manually placing the hours, in the long term, it was a better decision to code since it allowed me to modify the scales and generate new graphs in seconds. Also it turns out that I underestimated my speed with coding. My first iteration separated the full time work (left side of page) and freelance/personal work (right side of page). This is what I came up with:
The left one is when I went a little bit crazy and experimented with a diagonal grid. I thought it was cool and interesting but people told me it was very hard to read. I ended up with the one on the right and one of my good friends told me whoever didn't hire me from that was crazy. But I wasn't satisfied with it. I wanted a resume that I could hang on my wall, something that I could look at and be proud of.
Just when I thought I had colour tweaking left to do, I destroyed the base layout again. I tried focusing on other things - like making the locations central because it's my branding. I did something crazy again - I changed the columns to 2 weeks instead of just 1. A happy accident I discovered while changing the orientation to portrait mode was that it reminded me of dripping paint. It was a very promising visual metaphor. But the data I had didn't make a very nice shape. I can't make up false data just to make a pretty graph. At this point I questioned my earlier decision to separate full-time and freelance/personal. It was adding another dimension making the graph more confusing. So I decided to remove it.
I started filling up the new portrait orientation layout but it was still unharmonious to my eyes (left). I went with a different approach, this time focusing on what I would like to see hanging on my wall. I explored the paint drip metaphor further by changing the column from 2 weeks to 1 year. I managed to create a minimalist poster (right). But it is definitely no resume and I still feel like too much space is empty. I must admit that it looks really good on the thumbnail.
It wasn't until I decided to modify the scale from 1 circle is to 1 hour to 1 circle is to 2 hours and flipping the axis again when I hit a breakthrough. The new scale gave the graph more space to be visible. Changing the orientation created the new visual metaphor of a skyline which was more in line with my branding. (Although with this one I really see a castle with flags.) The last touch was switching the text and the place icons. I had to get rid of some in the final version but now I have something to hang on my wall as a visual monument to remind myself of the design career that I am building.
There is still much room for improvement for my next version. While this one shows how much effort I put into work, far more important is the actual effectiveness of my output. For my next career visualization, I will start recording the measurable impact of the things I have designed. I also want to make it an automated web based system instead of just the static one I have right now.
Coming Soon: The evolution of my personal brandingcomments powered by Disqus