Resume
vizualize.me

Graphical Resume Site Vizualize.Me Launches, We Talk To The Founder.

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With over 200,000 pre-launch signups and 40,000 users in their beta program, it’s very likely that you saw a vizualize.me resume link show up in a friend’s Facebook status update last week when the site soft launched. I know I did.

The Toronto based company (and winner of Startup Weekend Toronto 2011, and International Startup Festival’s Top Elevator Pitch) has been gradually taking their resume visualization service live over the last week or so. But they are considering their site fully load tested and “officially” launched today.

If you haven’t heard about it yet (unlikely), vizualize.me is a web service that imports your Linkedin resume information and expresses it as an infographic. It’s a neat idea and an appropriate format for the attention-span-challenged medium in which it lives…the Internet.

The goal, as CEO Eugene Woo puts it, is to “reinvent the resume by building something more relevant, more visual and more dynamic. One way to do that is by transforming your text resume into an infographic”.

I had a chance to speak with Eugene recently and he answered a few questions about vizualize.me that may lend some insight into how the service works and where it is headed.

Jay:
You describe this way of showing resumes as ‘more dynamic’. What do you mean by that?

Eugene:
It’s not like a typical resume where you write some lines of text, and that’s it. It’s dynamic. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you are a designer at an agency. [Your resume will graphically show] a block of time that you have worked there—say from 2010 to the present time. From that block I could then link to relevant work that I have done while at that agency. It’s a clean way of showing that info.”

Jay:
So I’m looking at my resume in vizualize.me. Is this just HTML?

Eugene:
Well, it’s HTML and also SVG. We are drawing vector graphics. It’s all a DOM element.

Jay:
So it’s not Flash?

Eugene:
No, it’s not Flash. God no. (laughs). That would not be cool if we used Flash.

Jay:
This is interesting to see a resume in this format. You can see the overlap of work and as your career goes forward, you can see how more and more things keep happening at the same time.

Eugene:
Yeah, and that’s just one way to visualize a timeline [default template]. We are coming up with new themes that visualize the content differently. That default template is what I would call a very ‘traditional’ visualization. We’re coming up with some new templates like a ‘functional’ resume template that’s more focused on skills (like for someone who has many gaps in the timeline and maybe don’t have a typical career). So, all kinds of people will be able to choose from many different themes that would suit their career—certain theme’s could make them look better, I suppose.

Jay:
So, are you going to let people design their own templates like the way Tumblr has opened their platform up?

Eugene:
Definitely. We are considering creating a theme marketplace where we let anyone sell their themes. Part of the idea behind calling them themes, is that we had the idea of a theme marketplace similar to Tumblr and WordPress.

We’re also building some very basic widgets that will allow a non designer to create some basic visualizations that could be unique. Right now they are all templates that are basically the same. It’s very similar to about.me in that you can customize the colors and the fonts or you can put a background in there.

The next step of customization will be to let the user tweak elements of the visualization. How that’s going to happen, I still don’t know yet, but we are working toward that.

Jay:
The service currently works with Linkedin as the data source. Do you plan to sync with Monster.com or others?

Eugene:
It currently imports from Linkedin only. I think the next site we work with will be Facebook because people do put their resumes in Facebook believe it or not. As far as other sites are concerned, I don’t really have plans to integrate with Monster or others.

We would more likely integrate with social networks like Klout and Twitter. Facebook, Klout and Twitter are basically the three integrations that are on the list and that we will be doing in the near future. So we would visualize your Klout score, we would visualize your Twitter feed. With Facebook, we’re not totally sure if there is anything we can visualize, professionally, but we would integrate with them and pull data, because you can put your work experience in Facebook…so we’ll import that.

Jay:
You say you may open this service up to let people make their own themes. Is the framework open as well? Will this be based on open source tools?

Eugene:
Yes, we are designing the system so that we can open it that way eventually. All data is JSON, everything is JSON format.

Jay:
With regard to your service, designers are a major segment you are targeting right?

Eugene:
There are a lot of creative people interested in our stuff. Initially that was the case, but now it seems to have pretty wide appeal and I think that’s because people realize that sending a resume is pretty formal…you wouldn’t just send a resume to someone you just met to show your work experience.

It would be much easier to say ‘hey, just check out my work experience at vizualize.me’. Someone can get a sense in about 10 seconds of what you do and have done. I think people other than designers appreciate that too.

Jay:
So it sounds like you creating this tool as much for readers of resumes as you are writers of resumes. Is part of your intention to aid Human Resource groups?

Eugene:
Yes, it’s both ways. It’s there to help the user tell the story in a much more visual and relevant manner and it’s also for the reader—whether that be an HR professional, manager or peer—so they can size you up easily, at a glance without having to read your 5 page resume.

The average resume is more than 2 pages, more than 1000 words and unless you are a professional recruiter, they can be pretty hard to read. There are a a lot of recruiters interested. I’ve talked to a lot of business owners and in fact they wanted us to build infographics and visualization tools for them to filter candidates. We may go there one day but right now our focus is on a consumer product.

Jay:
Tell me about the genesis of this idea. How did it come to you? Are you from an HR or technical background?

Eugene:
Originally my background was programming. The idea for this came while I was doing some mobile development consulting. I don’t know if you remember but earlier this year there was one infographic resume by Chris Spurlock that went viral on the Internet.

He was a student; graduated in journalism. He had created a visual infographic resume and he had posted it on Facebook. It went viral, had national coverage, was on TV…it really, really blew up. And then he ended up getting a job a Huffington Post. So, it totally worked. It worked beyond Chris’s imagination.

When I saw that I was like ‘Holy Crap’. I’ve always loved infographics and at the time I was reading a lot of resumes. I had to hire for all kinds of situations [for the mobile consultancy] and people would send me their 3-4 page resumes and I would barely have time to look at them. So I thought this infographic resume concept could be a really big thing.

I thought certainly we can’t beat a designer, but we can surely automate it, put it on the web and make it free (at least some of it for free) or charge a small amount of money and we could have a decent business out of it or at least a pretty popular website.

So I had the idea and sat on it for a while and then I pitched it at Start Up Weekend Toronto and we won. In one night we got 5000 signups. The next day, by the time we presented, we were past 5000 signups. I had another presentation at Demo Camp, four days later, and we were past 12,000 signups. So there was obviously lots of demand and this was just the LaunchRock page…it didn’t really have much description.

Jay:
Are you going to try to replace Linkedin?

Eugene:
The analogy I would use is that Linkedin is like WordPress and we are trying to be like Tumblr. We are trying to be like the cooler more informal network for resumes. I don’t even want to use the word Social Network because we are not a Social Network…we are a tool basically. There are no social features in our product.

Eventually, it’s something we’d like to explore. I wouldn’t say we want to replace Linkedin. In fact we rely on Linkedin right now. We use their login to connect so we have to play nice with them [laughing]. And they have blocked any company or sites that are competing with them…all the big recruiting sites that try to use their content and APIs. And I certainly don’t want that.

Jay:
And they are allowing you to use the content? You have permission?

Eugene:
Yeah, right now we are OK but I’m sure if you write an article that says we are going to be the next Linkedin they will definitely block us [we both laugh].

Jay:
I definitely don’t want that on my conscience. No but seriously, your strategy could also be about possibly being acquired by someone like Linkedin. Has that crossed your mind?

Eugene:
Yeah. I would say that would be OK. Being acquired by Linkedin would be OK. We want to complement Linkedin. The stance we have is that we want to complement Linkedin and actually because we use Linkedin exclusively for logins right now and only import data from them…because of that, what we’ve seen is that users are actually improving their Linkedin profiles because of us. So we are actually helping Linkedin in a way.

We don’t have all the Social Networking tools that they have and we probably won’t do that. I mean, I don’t really see us going that route. We are a much lighter version. We visualize things like skills, recommendations interests and all that, and most people don’t fill those things in…especially the skills part.

Once users figure out ‘hey I can visualize my skills and and build a graph of them’ people actually go in and fill in their Linkedin profiles. So I would say right now we definitely complement Linkedin.

Jay:
You told me about and Experiment you ran. Can you explain?

Eugene:
Well, we ran a series of experiments with our beta users. In one we found that—remember the thing I told you about earlier…that vizualize.me users were completing certain incomplete parts of their Linkedin profiles—we found that to be true to some degree. That’s how we found that out.

We also found out that beta users want to have different profiles for different purposes. Like for the engineer who is going for a marketing job. Their Linkedin profile will always have their engineering experience but then they want to create a visualization that’s different or that’s more marketing specific. That will probably evolve into a premium feature. We might allow users to have different visualizations for different purposes.

Jay:
Ah, almost like cover letters. Everyone’s been through that. You spin the same core skills different ways for different jobs.

Eugene:
Yeah, something like that. If you send a visualization to IBM there might be one view but f you send it to a start up, there might be a different view.

Jay:
How do you plan on monetizing?

Eugene:
We intend to roll out premium accounts with the follow features:

  • Premium visualizations – colorful, professionally designed themes to present personal branding in new and exciting ways
  • Integrated portfolio – images, videos, links related to job positions and other elements in their resumes
  • Profile analytics, personalized urls, hi-res exports