Technology

Your LinkedIn profile, visualised

Data visualisation site/service visual.ly has just announced, in concert with Kelly Services, the release of a new Create feature. As I’ve previously mentioned, visual.ly allows one to create a number of prepackaged infographics, and this appears to be the newest one – the ability to plug in your LinkedIn profile and get an infographic out.

Now, it’s been a couple of years since some enterprising young man made international news with his infographic’d-up CV, and there have (no doubt) been many people who’ve followed in his wake.  Which meant it was only a matter of time until someone offered the ability to generate these automatically.

Fair play visual.ly.

And yes, using one of these probably would be a point of difference against many other CVs (unless you’re a graphic designer, for example). The question is, though – is it useful? Does it capture the rights kinds of data, and present them in a manner which is useful? Remember, the point of infographics is to make a set of numbers easy to digest visually.

With this in mind, I had a play.  One is able to generate 5 different infographic looks, and it’s entirely possible more might be added.  Of course, they’re not necessarily entirely discrete – Earth Tone and Pastel Tone are analogues of each other, as are Black Gradient and Stark White.

I plugged my LinkedIn profile into all 6, however, to have a look.  It’s worth noting I maintain my profile assiduously, so there was plenty for the infographics to draw on! Here, then, are the results.

Click to enlarge

Pastel/Earth Tone (1 and 2)

Good clear timeline, which I like, although I’m not sure why the colours chosen, were, and in that order.  Still, I’m not a professional graphic designer.

I also like that they add up the number of years spent in different industries, although, and here’s a key issue for LinkedIn overall – one can only assign one, very limited, industry per job.  So these lovely stats, while great to look at, are not very useful.

It then goes on to give a word cloud of the skills people put down on their profiles – you know, the ones it’s now getting us all to endorse on behalf of each other.  I have, however, absolutely NO idea how it’s chosen . Seriously, why are Joomla and Events some of my biggest words? I don’t even see science communication  AT ALL. Etc etc.  It’s certainly not a good indication of my general skill set.

And how does it know which industries (like writing, apparently) are hot or not?  And is this just hot in NZ, or hot globally or, often the default, hot in the US?

What I’ve Studied is fine, I guess, and I actually found the Industry Connections bit quite useful, so no complaints there.

And finally – why the recommendation it chose?  Does it choose the most recent? Or the recommendation applying to the most recent job one has a recommendation for? And is that necessarily useful?

Business Card (3)

A good treatment of the timeline, showing the overlap of various jobs/pieces of work.  However, the alignment is completely out, with legends (thankfully colour-coded-ish) not actually pointing to the correct blocks.

On the other hand, though, it takes SO MUCH scrolling to get SO LITTLE information. A criticism which also applies, but to a lesser extent, to the Earth Tone/Pastel Tone infographics.

I don’t know how the size of Group circles have been decided, but at least the Skills section is more complete.

Stark White/Black Gradient (4 and 5)

Something weird with the maths here – for example, it says I’ve spent over three years in the Leisure, Travel & Tourism industry.  Really?  Not that I know of… It also gives a different amount of time spent in the Management Consulting industry to the previous infographics (Pastel/Earth Tone).

And again, the Skills that it chooses to list (8 of the, well, WAY more than 8 that I have) seem to be slightly more aligned with reality that the previous infographics, but again I’m forced to wonder how it chose the skills that it did.  I think, in this case, it might be the first 8 I put down, but I battle to see the usefulness of that, particularly given how people’s skills change over time.

Conclusion

I think the service is a fun gimmick, but that is all, and I’d be very wary of actually using something like this for a job application.

Simply put – it doesn’t do what any good infographic does: pull out the most salient data and present it as clearly and strikingly as possible.  Why?  Because everyone’s CV is different, and one needs humans (currently) to decide which bits to pull out and how best to present them, especially as these will likely be different for different job application.

Finally, and judging by the HR people I’ve met – most will not be even slightly impressed by having to scroll down or (I know, it’s terrible) print multiple pages of an infographic which tells them in multiple pages what simple text, well laid out, could in 1 page. If you’re going to a graphically-related industry, this would embarass you and if you’re not, do you think they’ll be affected positively by it?

On the other hand, though, the infographics do have some great elements which, I’m sure, could be easily adapted to make something more…personal.

I guess only time will tell.  I’ll be curious to see what feedback is around this.  It’s a lovely idea, in essence, but in need of improvement if it’s to be useful :)

Then again, it may also just be a very clever lead deneration ploy by visual.ly, as people generate their infographic, decide it needs tweaks, and hire visual.ly’s designers!

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