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[Guest Blogger Mike Harding is the co-founder of re.vu, a radically better visual resume. You can follow Mike on Twitter @mah1.]

Conventional wisdom says that a picture is worth 1,000 words. But is that really true? And what bearing does that have on your search for great talent or your desire to land an awesome gig?

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples to see if we can shed a little light on these questions.The first example concerns the current constellation of satellites orbiting planet Earth. I could describe it, or I could just show you. Below is a partial list of satellites from wikipedia:

Now, quickly, tell me who has the most satellites in reverse order by country.

Now, try the same thing using this visual:

You have clearly experienced the power of the visual image seeing the same data, represented in different ways. While the answers were accessible in the tabular format, they were not instantly meaningful as they are in the visual representation.

So we have part of the answer, we don’t know how many words a picture is worth, but we can demonstrate that a visual representation is more effective at conveying meaning quickly than data represented as words.

The second example is GapMinder World — it’s one of my favorites and has been around for about 6 years. This project visualizes UN Data that has been collected since 1948 (and often times longer where reliable sources are available.)

Now, before GapMinder existed, if you wanted to answer a question like “What is the impact of AIDS on life expectancy in Botswana?” you were free to query a text-based database which would spew out tables for you to interpret.

The simple fact that this data was available and that one COULD even answer the question is fantastic. But the expertise required and the commitment needed made the ability to find the answer available to a narrow segment of the population.

Take a look at the chart above, using the GapMinder World visualization, simply by selecting Botswana and pressing “play” you can clearly see the impact of AIDS on life expectancy in Botswana. And it’s grim, but 2001 was the nadir, things are improving marginally since then (see for yourself using the tool.)

The GapMinder example demonstrates two aspects of what is now possible in a connected, near real-time world with plain old data. One is that it is possible to take data and make it meaningful and accessible to a broad set of viewers.

The second aspect relates to the interactive nature of the tool, encouraging exploration and making it likely that a viewer will leave with more insight than a simple answer.

A New Crop Of Tools To Help Visualize Jobs & Professionals

Let’s bring this back to the specific question about finding talent or a gig. There are a new crop of tools and services popping up that take the power of the visual (and sometimes audio) but always more than just text to help represent and convey more completely the aspects of a gig or the skills and personality of a person.

Ongig is a great example of how this is emerging to match opportunities and people.

My startup re.vu, is another example (see below) of creating a GapMinder World view of a person to complement the traditional text resume.

A screenshot of the author’s visual resume.

It’s an exciting time to see how technology is shifting and creating a whole new market segment where it’s now possible to escape the “flat Stanley” view of the world and represent a complex person, situation, and/or object more accurately and in a multi-dimensional way.

Today’s the day, start to explore these new tools and use them to your benefit, you won’t be sorry!

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