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Meet Mark Johnson, The Guy Who Pinned His Resume On Pinterest

November 21, 2013

What does a resume have in common with cupcakes, wedding dresses and curtains?

The answer is Pinterest. Mark Johnson took a risk and transformed his Pinterest profile into an interactive resume. His unconventional approach paid off–the Pinterest resume impressed his interviewers and proved that the popular online pinboard site isn’t just for recipes, weddings and DIY projects. Mark then shared the secrets to his strategy in a SlideShare presentation, which captured the attention of top tech site Mashable and earned him big niche speaking gigs. Here is Mark’s inspiring story…

Story Resumes: Mark, what inspired you to use an unconventional resume as part of your jobseeking game plan?

Mark: It was the first time I interviewed with an agency and my traditional resume didn’t tell the whole story. I have a ‘resume addendum’ (curriculum vitae) but it’s three pages of type and there’s nothing visually attractive about it. Most of my work from the last ten years is on the web, but not in any one place. With only three days to prepare for the interview, I needed something fast, easy and online.

Story Resumes: Why did you choose to use Pinterest as a resume platform?

Mark: I was already on Pinterest so it was familiar and pinning is quick. Behance was another option but it requires uploading every project and that takes more time. I like Behance for portfolios but Pinterest is a better fit for a resume. If a web page featuring my work doesn’t have a good image, I create one instead. Then I upload it to a pin and add the URL as a link to the correct web page. Images on a Pinterest resume don’t have to be perfect but they should be varied and colorful, if possible.

Story Resumes: How confident were you that interviewers and human resources (HR) would be interested in and receptive to your Pinterest resume?

Mark: I wasn’t sure if HR would be receptive. One HR employee noticed I didn’t have a paper resume and offered to print it. I suggested, “only if the interviewer needs one.” I had the traditional resume on my iPad as a PDF, just in case! When the interviewer arrived with his iPad and opened his copy of my PDF resume, I mentioned Pinterest. He was fascinated so we used my iPad the entire time to review my pins of social media marketing projects. After the interview, HR was curious so I showed them the Pinterest resume. Their enthusiasm convinced me I was on to something!

Story Resumes: In your SlideShare presentation, “Pinterest Your Resume”, you said that your resume has “professional references” via likes and comments on your pins. How did you get enough of these?

Mark: I’ve been on Pinterest for some time and have quite a few followers. I didn’t have to solicit any likes, comments or re-pins. That was fortunate because a Pinterest resume appears less static when you have engagement. It’s best to pin when you know others are on Pinterest, so your activity will appear on their Pinterest feed. It’s like Facebook in that respect.

Story Resumes: Did you promote your resume to get it noticed, or how did it catch on and go viral?

Mark: I did promote the Pinterest resume, but only after creating “Pinterest Your Resume” and tweeting the link to the presentation via Twitter. I thank for being such a great place to tell stories visually. SlideShare users are mostly professionals so it’s a good place to share business-related content. As for going viral, that was a surprise! The presentation still gets over a hundred views every week with no promotion. I also have the presentation embedded on my LinkedIn profile to showcase innovative thinking.

Story Resumes: How has your Pinterest profile affected your career and career strategy since that agency interview?

Mark: I applied to be a speaker at NeoCon, the Interior Design Conference in Chicago, and presented “Pinterest Your Resume”. It was rewarding to be selected and to share the ideas with a live audience of designers in 2013. Mashable featured the Pinterest resume, which inspired me to apply to NeoCon again for 2014. It’s a great resume builder to be selected as a speaker. My new topic is ‘The Next Wave – Interactive Resumes and Portfolios.’

“Pinterest Your Resume” was also featured in two recent books; “Present Yourself”, by Kit Seeborg and Andrea Meyer, and “Pinfluence – The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest”, by Beth Hayden. That is truly exciting!

I think about Pinterest more creatively now and have been asked how it can be used for non-profit groups. I volunteered to do social media marketing for a non-profit event last year, the MissionZeroFest in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I point non-profit organizations to my MissionZeroFest Pinterest Board for creative ideas on how to use Pinterest.

Story Resumes: What advice do you have for current jobseekers hoping to stand out from the crowd?

Mark: Think about what you do best and how to creatively share it. A few people have asked me, “what if I don’t have visual resume content to share on Pinterest?” Even if your pins link to online copy, think of an image that captures the idea. You can upload the image as a pin and link to the content. I survived most of my career without a visual, interactive, online resume. Never again! Pinterest is free, easy and a good fit for me. Find something that works for you and go for it!

Story Resumes: Thank you for sharing your story, Mark! We look forward to being continually inspired by you and your creative ventures.

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