What’s the Difference Between a Networking Resume (Infographic) and an ATS Resume?

Yesterday, a client noted, “If you ask 10 people about your resume, you’ll get 15 opinions!”

That’s so true, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of bad information out there.

A person without knowledge of ATS scanners – algorithms used by many companies to elevate good candidates and expedite the search for recruiters – might recommend the resume with the most bells and whistles (we call this an “infographic resume”). Even those with knowledge of how to write resumes for ATS scanners are split on many opinions, such as:

  • Do you include a credential like MBA after your name?
  • How far back should your work history go?
  • Should you include publications in your resume?

(The answers, respectively, are “no,” “usually 10 – 15 years with a lot of exceptions,” and “it depends on the job.”)

Resume-writing best practices are constantly evolving along with Human Resources technology, which underpins this confusion. I am a member of Career Thought Leaders to ensure I’m up to date on the most current practices. This dynamic organization aggregates data and facilitates thought leadership for career coaches. The majority of my information comes from their research.


What’s an ATS Resume?

An ATS resume is a minimally designed document. It has a standard format (header, summary, key skills, experience, education) and comprehensive information, usually between 650 – 950 words. It should be uploaded to online job boards in .doc format. Here’s an example:

How do I Use an ATS Resume?

An ATS resume is an all-purpose tool used to apply online through job boards and network with peers.

What Are the Limitations of ATS Resumes?

Some job seekers find ATS resumes disappointing because they are “boring.” While they can contain a graph or two, their main purpose is to convey text content for a robot to review and a human to read. They need to be updated for each job description for maximum effectiveness.


What’s an Infographic Resume?

An infographic resume has a complex design and limited information. It’s created with graphic design in mind, using charts, graphs, and images to convey ideas. An infographic resume gives a 5-second overview of your career. Here’s an example:

How Do I Use an Infographic Resume?

An infographic resume is a great tool for networking with peers, following up with recruiters after you submit your resume through a job board, or reinforcing your value at the end of a job interview. You can distribute it directly to the intended target via email, LinkedIn, or other social media. An infographic resume shows creativity and initiative.

What Are the Limitations of an Infographic Resume?

Infographic resumes are supplementary to your ATS resume. They do not contain the comprehensive information about your career that recruiters want to see, nor do they “play nicely” with ATS scanners (they’re as effective for job boards as submitting a blank piece of paper). Infographic resumes are for networking purposes only.


If you have the financial resources to hire a professional resume writer or the skill to create these documents yourself, having both an ATS resume and an infographic resume is ideal. The ATS resume is essential, whereas the infographic resume is another tool in your box that can help set you apart from other candidates. Because you can use it for any purpose, if you can only have one resume, it should be an ATS resume.

If you’d like help with an ATS resume or an infographic resume, please contact me. I have assisted more than 4,000 job-seekers with their documents and would be happy to help you, too!


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