The title of this article may seem a little bit far-fetched, but hear me out. Visual literacy is a key skill in contemporary job markets. Not only will it help set you apart when applying for jobs, but it will also equip you with tools to navigate every aspect of contemporary life: from social media to workplace communication.
To understand how this can enable you to ace an interview and create an amazing resume for your dream job, it is important to first understand what visual literacy is. Visual literacy is the ability to construct meaning from images, this means both being able to read and create visuals. Images are becoming a universal language and being able to understand them is the key to confidently navigating your job search and, eventually, your workplace.
Visual literacy is not necessarily an exact skill; rather, it is a skillset that we can use repeatedly to help us navigate contemporary life. It is the ability to deconstruct the elements and principles of all sorts of visuals and then derive meaning from that.
A great example of this is the ability to recognize hazard symbols. This is important in most workplaces (and often part of the basic Operational Health and Safety standards you must learn). Over time, we have all been taught that a skull and crossbones mean toxic, and a flame means flammable. These are part of our basic set of visual literacy tools, but to be fully visually literate we can deepen this knowledge, as well as notice hints and visual cues in more subtle and detailed ways.
Visual literacy skills are essential for twenty-first-century employees. In fact, skills that are key components of visual literacy fit into many of the World Economic Forum’s Top 10 Soft Skills in their Future Job’s Report. Coming in at #3 is Creativity. Creativity is essential in so many jobs and a skill that many employers require. Being visually literate forces you to think creatively and critically about the multitude of images that saturate our everyday life and makes for an excellent skill to add to your resume.
Additionally, critical thinking, judgement, decision making, and cognitive flexibility are in the top 10 job skills for which employers will be looking in the future. These are also all skills that can be enhanced through learning about visual culture and gaining a sense of visual literacy. Similarly, according to LinkedIn’s list of the top 10 most desirable hard skills, video production and affiliate marketing are both coveted. Both of these skills require a certain level of visual literacy that can be achieved, in part, by taking courses at Mount A., such as Introduction to Visual Culture (VMCS 1201), and Introduction to Intercultural Communication (VMCS 2991).
So far, we have discussed how these skills can assist you in succeeding in a job, but what about getting to the interview itself? How can an understanding of visual culture help with this?
The ability to communicate visually means that you will be able to add even more information to a resume without exceeding word or page limits. Visual literacy will teach you what colours and symbols you can use on your resume to catch an employer’s attention and to convey certain things about yourself. It may teach you cues and body language to pay attention to during an interview, and can even help you learn how to properly organize a resume to convey the exact message that you it want to.
At the end of the day, the meaning of images lies in the receiver (so in this case, a hiring committee), but visual literacy gives you the skills to convey the meaning you wish to in the absolute clearest way possible.
Visual literacy skills will help you stand out in a crowd of students with the same undergraduate degree from the same programs across Canada. It shows employers and hiring committees that you have soft skills (and even hard skills) that are desirable in a contemporary workplace.
Mount A has tons of new opportunities involving visual literacy, like the “Visual Literacy and Culture” certificate or the minor in visual communication and culture, which will not only teach you the skills you need to become fully visually literate but will also indicate to employers that you have the exact skills they are looking for!