Joe Ganley

I make software and sometimes other things.


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I've had this thought for some time, but the past year working on analytics and visualization has really driven it home: Pages full of text are a terrible way to accomplish a résumé's goals. An effective business presentation or a sales brochure is very visual, full of charts and pictures. There is a good reason for this: Such communications need to convey a lot of information, not necessarily at a very high level of detail, to people who have limited attention to give, and who are intrinsically difficult to engage. A résumé's audience and purpose are similar.

I've been playing around with some concepts in this direction. For example, the following chart shows my experience with various programming languages chronologically:

languages timeline
You can tell at a glance that the majority of my experience is in C++, that I have a lot of experience with Lisp but not recently, and that recently I have been increasingly working with Python, SQL, and web technologies (by which I mean JavaScript, AJAX, CSS, etc.). I'm working on similar charts for non-language technologies (e.g. OpenGL, Qt, COM), though I'm not completely sure those don't belong in the same chart with languages, and another for the types of applications I have developed. I'm also working on a graphical timeline of where I worked, accompanied by screenshots and other visual descriptions of the work I've done. And, of course, ultimately I will make everything much better-looking than that stock Excel chart. The end result I imagine is something that looks a lot like a sales brochure (which is basically what a résumé is) - something that would be totally appropriate to print on glossy paper.

A couple of online services are small steps in this direction. VisualCV adds some charts and such to an otherwise fairly standard résumé format, and codersCV adds a timeline, but in both cases the résumé is still dominated by text, and they are also aimed at online presentation; I don't know if or how well they support print. What I'm working on will look more like something that could have been done by Nick Felton.

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