Your Tableau Resume/Biography Doesn’t Have to be Boring

At the start of the year, I started a new job at a new company. Usually, following that first day, people update their “current job” in all the normal places such as LinkedIn. That typically takes a few seconds to do and on you go with your life. However, I’d imagine we all don’t go back to our old resume and update it until we are faced with needing to flash it around again. Well, I think it’s worth changing that perspective. Your interactive resume should be reflective of who you are and therefore may change more often than just getting a new job. I also propose that we rethink how we create resumes, especially those in Tableau. How we think about sections, layout, colors, purpose, interactivity, and creativity.

Version 1

I’m not entirely new to the Tableau resume build. In fact, I’ve done a total of three. My first one I don’t have any longer but it had many of the expected parts. My second one, which I developed in early 2018, was more or less just a timeline of my education and jobs. It was a result of finding an interesting resume done by Amy Cesal that caught my eye.

Screen Shot 2019-02-23 at 12.22.51 PM.png
Amy Cesal’s resume

Well, I should back up a minute and explain, why it caught my eye. If you google “Tableau resumes” or search on Tableau Public, 99% of them will be a Gantt chart with perhaps a portrait image in the top left (likely in a circle, but we all do like circles), some information about the tools and skills that person has, maybe some icons that have no real necessary value, and if I was a betting women, which I’m not, some horrible color scheme.

Hey, no offense if this sounds like yours. That’s why you are likely reading this – to improve yours or start one! If that’s your plan, then good, you are in the right spot.

Okay, so back to Amy’s resume. I found the resumes already on Tableau Public boring, so Amy’s gave me a fresh idea for how to create one. Mostly, it was a lay out that showed a timeline, but wasn’t a Gantt chart. In all reality, this was a lot of floating images and text although there was data behind the bars. It certainly wasn’t the best resume at all. In fact, it is just a timeline. BUT, it took me in a new direction and laid the foundation for being a little more creative with this sort of work in Tableau.

Original Resume.png

Conceptualizing the Design

I tell people this all the time (including in my Tableau Fringe Festival talk), but I usually always start with Googling for inspiration before I create a visualization. I started by Googling “resume infographic”, followed by “about me infographic,” and “professional infographic”, and so on until I had a collection of ideas for how to structure a biographic-like resume that wasn’t the usual Tableau version. Here are a few concepts I found that helped jumpstart my creative juices.

Below on the left is a CV that had a color palette I was really drawn to so I took the image and ran it through Tableau Magic’s color palette generator (PS bookmark this – I use it all the time!) to get nice color scheme for my resume. In the middle, I liked the layout and fonts so, again, I went in search of a font similar and found one called Watermelon Script. I actually started building before I found the last image, but this last image actually helped change my resume and pulled it all together in the end. When I found the third image I immediately loved the shape in the corner, so maybe you guessed it, but I went into PowerPoint and created that same shape to use.

Determining the WHAT

So I had a color scheme, a font, and a shape and general lay out idea. I usually build my dashboards before the worksheets and graphs, so this is normal for me. You can see from the image below, that I had a layout and containers organized, but only a few actual charts created. That is because after I had the layout and some obvious pieces (pictures, social connection icons with links), then I had to work out the harder part of this process.

The next step is determining what you want to highlight in your biographic resume. In my particular case, I was creating this mostly as a biography for my new company to use on their website. This meant I knew it needed to stand on it’s own yet have some interactive features, as well as show who I am as an individual while still highlighting my professional skills (charts, design, organization, Tableau).

At first these were the areas I identified:

  1. A short section about who I am and my contact information. I wanted some fun details to ensure folks got a sense of who I was – not just what I can do or what I’ve done.
  2. A section about my previous jobs/roles
  3. My visualization skills (I later scraped this idea and changed it to highlights of my work)
  4. My favorite chart types (this actually was an idea from my boss since I created her infographic biography as well and she included this)
  5. Education
  6. Presentations and links to work I’ve done

Structuring the Data

I knew I needed data on my prior jobs, my education, my presentations and links and my favorite chart types. I find that creating data for these resumes isn’t terribly hard. You just need to first plan out what you want to show in a chart and how, so I’d suggest mocking something up or sketching it out.

For the jobs and education I created a table with the following columns: Company, Title, Type (Education vs. Employment), Type Detail (such as Undergraduate, Clinical, Quality Management – big categories), Location, Year Started (I actually listed the exact date in the data in case I wanted it), Year Ended, Data Skills Required (Y/N), and Notes.

For the presentations and links I just created a similar data set with each aspect that I may want to visualize. I also created some mock data sets to use for my favorite charts of information that related back to me somehow.

I think, for me, the biggest thing is to not over think the data. I wasn’t going for any “wow” factor in regards to crazy calculations or charts. I don’t find a lot of value in that in the real world in regards to resumes. I believe you want people to see your resume and be immediately drawn in. Are they going to care how hard it was to build? Probably not. You want it to be memorable, different, or unique.

Prototyping

Let’s be clear, my resume didn’t come together in one fell swoop. In fact, it took a lot of iteration. The first draft looked like this below.

Lindsay Betzendahl Resume Viz

As with any dashboard or project, “iteration makes the world go ’round,” or so I like to say. There is no dashboard that is good on the first try, in my opinion. I decided to scrap the timeline and the educational timeline, because, honestly, no employer cares when I went to school anymore. They probably don’t care where I went at this point either. I also chose not to show where I worked since this will be on my current employer’s website, but the data is in the tooltip. You may clearly want you explicitly show where you worked.

I also rethought where each chart should be placed and reevaluated their importance. This is key.

After a lot of designing and restructuring the visualization, my final viz looks like this, which you can interact with on Tableau Public. Let me walk you through my design choices and why.

Lindsay Betzendahl Resume Viz Final copy

Sections & Evaluating Importance

About

Originally, I had this down the side, but upon further contemplation I realized I wanted the personal part to be the first section someone would read. For me, it was important that people read this biographic resume and feel like they know me, what makes me interesting, what do I like, and why might you want me on your team or want me to work with you. Additionally, I wanted to give it more space because I chose to use some custom images I made in PowerPoint. Making images to enhance a visualization is something I do a lot so I wanted that creative aspect to be in my Tableau resume and noticed. You may want to add in little things that you often like to do in your vizzes because it gives you something to talk about.

Experience

There was no way I was doing a Gantt chart here. Also, at this point in my career it wasn’t really important for people to see a timeline. What was important was to show the various job types I’ve had, how long I worked in each, and how the recent ones were data-focused. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to use a simple bar chart, but in a fun and unusual way. I find there are no “rules” to your own biography or resume. Let it be you!

Education

As I mentioned above, I didn’t think at this stage in my career or life I needed to highlight my education as much as perhaps if I were starting out looking for a job. Instead, I used the logos of the schools I attended and floated a transparent sheet with transparent shapes over it. This allows the reader to get some details about my education if they so choose, but it’s not “in your face” since most people aren’t checking my education any longer.

Favorite Charts

Originally, I didn’t have a lot of room for this section, but since I currently work for a company that focuses on best practices for dashboard design and chart types, this became an area that I wanted to give adequate attention. Additionally, it was an opportunity to provide a little context to my thought processes and show a personal side within a professional topic. I’ll admit, the “favorite chart” section was originally my boss’s idea, but what I liked so much about it was that I could almost guarantee it would be different for each person on our team.

While I could have put in images of the my favorite chart types, I decided to create the data for them if possible. The bar chart is data on the heat index for four common peppers I eat. If you know me at all, you may know that I love hot peppers – like REALLY love them. The barbell chart is also data that I created about the change in my love for various things from 2014 to 2018. Unfortunately, I couldn’t think of anything personal for the dot strip plot so Superstore came to my rescue.

Presentations & Such, My Work, and Social Networks

The last two sections are small and at the bottom. While I want people to check out my work, I also realize that this is something someone is going to need to dedicate a little bit of time to so it made sense to have it at the bottom. The tooltip within each diamond of the presentation section shows details about the presentation or award and a link if available. The “My Work” section has a few highlighted visualizations. Upon hover an image of the viz will show up and if the arrow is clicked, you will be directed to the visualization on Tableau Public. Lastly, are the social networks that include links to each.

TL;DR

  1. Choose a layout, color scheme, images, and/or shapes that speak to you
  2. First determine the possible sections (about, jobs, education, skills, etc)
  3. Then decide what is your objective for the resume/biography and who is your audience
  4. Decide the importance of each possible section and organize them accordingly
  5. Lastly, ensure your resume reflects YOU. Taking parts and ideas from others is fine, but be sure that in some way it’s unique to you or at least you feel that it reflects who you are and not someone else.
  6. Remember, if you feel like you are making it too complicated, then you probably are. Ask for feedback from others, take a step back, or browse other places outside of Tableau for inspiration.

I hope this was helpful!

Cheers,

Lindsay

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