Recently, we have been hearing from job seekers that some employers are starting to ask for video resumes before considering them for an interview. Mostly, employers are asking for videos to be submitted as part of an application, often with the usual resume document.
Given the current context of increased use of remote technology in hiring, including video interviews, this trend isn’t altogether surprising. But it is quite a new trend — requests for video resumes are generally not that common as yet, with only 3 percent of employers reportedly asking for them. However, considering the pace of change in hiring technology, job seekers should not be surprised if asked to submit a video as part of the job application process.
Generally, it seems that video requests are primarily coming from employers in specific sectors — specifically for sales and communication type roles, which are the types of jobs where communication skills, use of video technology and creativity might matter more.
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In some cases, candidates are choosing to provide a video with their resume even when it’s not requested by the employer, as a way to stand out, but this is not always a good idea, depending on the type of job to which you are applying and the nature of the industry.
What is a video resume?
Video resumes are an opportunity for the job seeker to present a short (up to about 90 seconds, or so), personal introduction of themselves to the employer.
The purpose of a video resume is not to necessarily replace a regular resume. It is often used as a screening tool to help employers select candidates — employers might request it with the resume, so they can decide whether to invite you to an interview. Some employers might ask for a resume video a pre-screening device, before inviting candidates to send in their resumes. In some rare cases, employers might even request the video instead of a resume.
Some risks with video resumes:
Keeping in mind Marshall McLuhan’s famous line that “the medium is the message”, candidates need to choose to use video resume only if they are deliberately telling the employer something they really need to know. Generally, unless requested by employers, video resumes can be a risky option. Not all employers appreciate having to take the time to watch a video unnecessarily. This might depend on the culture of the industry or company, or the tools and skills required for the job.
Making a video is a risky endeavour. A poorly made video can undermine an otherwise strong application – if you are going to make a video, make sure to do it well.
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More importantly, video interviews could be considered to contravene Labour Standards legislation or the Human Rights guidelines. The Ontario Human Rights Commission, for example, has been clear about the fact that asking for photos on application forms contravenes the rights of candidates to be protected from discrimination based on appearance or other irrelevant factors: “It has long been the Commission’s position that employers should not request photos of potential employees, since they may provide information related to a number of Code-related grounds, such as race, colour, sex or age.”
As far as we know, video resumes have not been tested in court or tribunals. Of course, with LinkedIn already enabling the posting of photos on profiles, the practice of sharing personal images of job seekers is already common practice. Based on this, it is possible that candidates would be well within their rights to refuse to share a video with a potential employer.
How to make a video resume
The challenge facing candidates is that the video must be high quality. It is worth investing extra time and effort to do it properly.
1. Get your script ready: what do you want to say?
Think of a video resume as a video cover letter – a pitch for why the company should hire you. As you would with a cover letter, start with the job posting to figure out what this particular employer is most interested in. Think through what you want to say and write it all out – you will sound a lot more coherent and organized if you’ve thought through everything you want to say in detail. Then practice, practice, and practice some more. Be prepared to re-record the video a few times before you’re satisfied. Of course, putting care and attention into the video tells employers about your work ethic and commitment to excellence.
Use these guidelines to write out your script:
- Thank the employer for the opportunity
- Introduce yourself and your relevant background and qualifications
- Describe why you are the best candidate for this position — skills, interests and unique assets
- Explain what makes you a good match for the company — the match between the company’s and your own values
- Outline briefly your hopes for how you can contribute to the job
- Thank them again, and express enthusiasm about the position
Think of how you want to do this – it’s better to not bore the viewer by sounding like you’re reading off a script, so either write out every word or practice it until you know it, or just have some talking points you can speak to. Avoid silly jokes or gimmicks – focus on being natural but professional.
2. Get your equipment ready
Choose the equipment that takes the best quality video – possibly your newest device (it could be a laptop, cellphone, tablet or computer). Test it for sound and image quality. Make sure to stabilize it so it’s not shaky or moving around (don’t hold the camera).
Here are some good tips for preparing the video: https://youtu.be/BgUAlw4myrs — watch and listen to how the presenter speaks, in addition to his useful tips.
3. Get the space ready
Make sure to use a well lit room, where your face is in the light. Make sure the background is tidy and not distracting, and that no personal items are visible, if possible. If you have to use your bedroom, ensure the bed isn’t visible.
Sit at a distance from the camera that shows your head, and shoulders, where your face is visible, but not too close to the device.
Find a quiet place where there will be no noises and distractions. Keep in mind that if you are applying for a remote job, it’s best to film the video in the space you will be using for the job, so that the employer has an image of you on the job.
4. Get yourself ready
Your goal is to come across as professionally as possible. That means thinking through your appearance, including what you are going to wear, hair, makeup, etc. Keep it simple and neat – you don’t want to distract from what you are saying. Dress as you would for a job interview, which means dressing a bit more professionally than you would on the job.
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Give yourself enough time to practice and re-record the video until you are satisfied. Be a perfectionist.
5. Get it done
Generally, a simple, clear presentation of you speaking for 60-90 seconds (1-2 minutes) is perfectly appropriate (and appreciated by employers, who are busily sorting through many applications). But, if your job requires creative or technical skills, the video might be an opportunity to showcase your skills, using text, slideshows, music or other relevant media.
Some tips for a good video:
- Make and maintain eye contact with the camera directly, as if you are talking to a person.
- Smile – make sure to look and sound enthusiastic
- Project your voice clearly and consistently
- Pronounce every word
- Speak naturally – try to sound conversational
- Keep it short
- Check the video with friends and family
Tools and samples:
There are an increasing number of platforms online that help users make videos, such as https://animoto.com/, Biteable, Camtasia 2020, and https://vimeo.com/create/video-maker
Here’s a good sample, using Biteable, the candidate created a clear, focused and straightforward video: https://youtu.be/OZzEBa9cHN0
A video resume doesn’t necessarily replace your traditional resume — you might still need a tailored 2-page resume, and possibly even a cover letter, if the employer asks.
While video resumes can help you make a great impression on the employer, a badly produced video can seriously harm your chances. So if you are going to use a video resume, take the time to make a simple, professional and appropriate video that clearly communicates why the employer should hire you.
Your resume is polished and all ready to go. You can customize it as needed, highlighting the skills that illustrate why you’re the best candidate for the job or the best fit for the company. And you’ve even got your portfolio ready to go. But then you’re asked to submit a resume in an entirely different format: on video.
Though perhaps not a common request, more employers are requesting “live-action” resumes. Those who request video resumes may do so because they’ve concluded that, for their purposes, it’s a great way to see and hear a job applicant up close, in their own environment.
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If you’ve never done a video resume, and wonder how to proceed, a bit of research may be in order. Lucky for you, we have the best tips for creating video resumes that get results.
How to Create a Video Resume
If you’ve decided a video resume is the way to go or you’ve been asked by a prospective employer to provide one, make sure you have your ducks in a row. That is, you don’t want to kill your prospects for getting hired by submitting a low-quality video. An out-of-focus image, poor sound quality, a disheveled appearance, or a sketchy-looking background could doom your chances of getting the job.
A few things to avoid include:
- Off-topic subjects or other verbal content that doesn’t focus on the job or your qualifications
- Poor production, including bad lighting and shaky camera work
- Little or no eye contact or engagement with the camera
- Excessive hand or body movement
- Clothes or random or distracting items strewn across the background
- Children, other family members, or pets wandering in and out of the room
- Distracting noises in the background (or at least those within your control)
But beyond making sure you look good on camera, what else should you think about before creating your video resume?
Just as you would in person, you still need to be professional when appearing before the camera. So, be sure to look, dress, and, most importantly, act the part. It’s a good idea to be dressed in a suit or other professional outfit and be well-groomed, just as if you were sitting across from a prospective boss.
While you might be tempted to simply read off what you’ve already written on your resume, viewers of your video are going to want something more. Let’s say that your area of expertise is in marketing. Do some research before you record your video to uncover some new information that fellow industry professionals—and hiring managers alike—will find interesting. By offering extra content, you’re putting yourself ahead of the competition.
Be Appealing (but Don’t Overdo It)
Filming a video resume means that you get to further expand upon all of your previous accomplishments and accolades. It does not mean, though, that you have just been awarded the Best Actor in a Motion Picture and are about to go on stage and deliver your acceptance speech. While it’s a good idea to be conversational in a video, be mindful of bragging. List your accomplishments humbly—and let them speak for themselves.
Uploading a large file (or even attempting to email it to a potential boss) will create all sorts of problems. If possible, use an HD camera or a smartphone for good quality video results and keep your video to under one minute. That way, the file size won’t be too large in case you need to email it with other job applications.
Staying professional in your video doesn’t mean you can’t add a little style. Though not always necessary, you can use basic video editing programs to trim some parts of the video and also add special effects like fade-outs, transitions, and title cards.
When to Skip Video Resumes
As excited as you might be by the prospect of recording your video resume, there are some times when it’s just not appropriate.
If you’re not qualified for the job, no amount of fade-ins, stirring music, or special effects will change that. Being slightly under-qualified is one thing, but lacking even the basics of the job description is another.
And if the video resume won’t add to your application, it’s probably better to skip it. Spending a lot of time on anything that won’t help you get the job is a waste of time. You’re better off targeting your job search and customizing your application.
Why Some Employers Like Video Resumes
From the employer’s view, a video resume may offer job candidates great latitude to present themselves in their best light, just as a traditional print or online resume does.
And in an increasingly visual age, employers may view video resumes as an easy way to skim through applicants. Hiring managers can watch, listen, learn, and make decisions based on what’s presented on a visual platform.
The Pros and Cons of Video Resumes
That said, a video resume may not be the right choice for everyone in every situation. So, what are the pros and cons of video resumes?
Video Resume Pros
Let’s start with the pros.
First, a video resume lets you retain control of the narrative. For example, if you have an employment gap in your resume, it’s hard to explain that on a one- to two-page resume. However, in a video resume, you have more space to explain said employment gap, making it easier to give it context and meaning.
Second, you can embed the video resume on your personal website or LinkedIn profile. This gives prospective employers a chance to get to know a different side of you before an interview.
Lastly, most applicants don’t use them. Using a video resume is an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re on top of technology and fully plugged into the latest ways to apply for a job.
Video Resume Cons
But before you invest in a ring light and tripod, know that video resumes have some cons, too.
For starters, you should consider possible questions and concerns video resumes could raise about hiring rules set by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Among the potential concerns is whether a candidate who commits their image to a video resume could raise bias issues if they’re rejected for a candidate of a different gender, race, or physical ability.
Also, video resumes are often subject to the same level of scrutiny as their print or digital counterparts. Just because you’re on video, do not over-embellish career highlights.
Lights, Camera, Resume!
Creating a video resume is a cutting-edge way to find a job. It shows that you’re a forward thinker who gets technology and is up to date (or even ahead of) trends. A video resume may not be for everyone, or even right in every instance, but a video resume–in some situations–can help a hiring manager remember you and why you’re the best person for the job.