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In the Age of Multi-Media… Is a Video Resume a Good Idea?

imageIn the last few years, I've seen individuals and consulting firms create Video Resumes to tout themselves, or their consultants to prospective employers and clients.

In a media rich market where you're trying to set yourself apart from the crowd, is this an effective strategy?

After looking at a lot of them, my answer is… Possibly, but not likely!

There are a few that I've seen that I thought were impressive and did a good job of distinguishing someone from the masses. However, the vast majority I've seen probably do more harm than good. Here are some observations…

It's difficult to be engaging on video. There are some people that can demonstrate their personality effectively on video. However, most people appear flat, and frankly, boring. Most people are much more engaging and personable over the phone or face-to-face when they are talking to a live person than they are when talking to a camera. Someone looking at a boring video while deciding whether to bring the person in for a meeting will more likely pass. The document that might have a more engaging person behind it seems like a better bet than a video that is already boring them.

It's not searchable! Having your resume document online through your own personal website, or on a job board like Monster, CareerBuilder, or HotJobs can be a great way to be found. Generally, all the words in your document will be scanned when someone runs a search and it will appear when relevant keywords are entered. A video resume, however, doesn't have that ability. No one will find your video resume, where you talk about your skills with Oracle software, by entering "Oracle" in a search field. A video has very limited value if it's not as widely seen.

It's more difficult to customize. As important as it is to tailor your resume for each opportunity you pursue in order to connect the dots for the potential employer, it's much less likely to be done if an entirely new video has to be reshot in the process. It's much easier, and more likely to be done, with a document that only needs some simple editing.

Viewers are more interested in answers to questions they asked than ones they didn't. Invariably, a video resume addresses questions that the viewer may, or may not, be interested in. They are far less likely to be interested in listening to irrelevant information. However, are forced to listen to it, impatiently, if they still want to hear more. Or they may simply turn it off if they don't. In a resume document, they can simply scan further down quickly. In a video, it's more difficult. When you create a video, you have no way of knowing what they want to hear, and what they don't.

While a video resume seems like a leading-edge idea that could set you apart, it can also more quickly derail their interest in you if the video is a dud. If you try it, be very self-critical and use it cautiously!


David DeCapua said...

Harry: I've been in the recruiting business for 15 years and I agree with most of your comments. However, technology is forcing us to move beyond the traditional "paper" resume. Do you think that candidates will still use paper in 2 or 3 years? I'm betting it will all be digital, with video, graphics, links to social media and more. Employers will have 90% of the information they need before ever meeting the candidate. It just makes more sense for everyone involved. Check out TalentRooster.com - you will see that we've addressed all the concerns you've raised. Happy New Year.

Kristi Enigl said...

Hi Harry,

Love this blog post! One thing that is overlooked by the new video/online resume movement is that Human Resources do not review resume videos or online resumes, because they need to limit any possible discrimination in hiring lawsuits.

When I was an HR Manager, I did not accept resumes with photos. When I recruited at a large staffing firm, we were not allowed to accept resumes with photos, even from international candidates.

Job seekers need to realize that their priorities are different from the HR office. HR is there to comply with employment laws. Job seekers are using any and all methods to get an interview. But the video or online resume will most likely stop you at the gate.
Kristi Enigl

Nilmini Klur said...

These comments and the blog raise a very interesting issue. What if one of your greatest strengths is public speaking and the way you come across as confident, professional, and personable, which can't be demonstrated in a static cover letter and resume.

Additionally, I understand the issue of wanting to avoid discrimination lawsuits, but how is that balanced with increasing diversity within the company, which may only come across in a picture?

Is it okay to include a business card with your picture on it together with the resume?

Lots of food for thought here and would love your input on these questions I have.

Nilmini Klur

Zybert said...

Thanks for the blog post! Unfortunately, most of what I am reading here just is not true. At The Vesume Group we utilize video resumes to market our candidates.

To address some of your concerns:

It is difficult to be engaging on video - A camera is much less intrusive than a hiring manager. Regardless, it is up to you as the subject to "loosen" up, and show off your personality. The difference between a camera and a hiring manager? You cannot retract or retry your interview. A video resume
gives you a controlled first impression.

It's not searchable: Did you know that YouTube is owned by Google. You may notice that when you search for a topic, often times you will also see a video. If used properly, and distributed through social media and YouTube - your video is not only searchable - it is also being promoted through the likes and retweets of your network. Forget being searchable - how about being viral?

It is more difficult to customize - Very true. However, since video resumes are still in their early stages of development - there is less pressure on an HD professionally polished video resume. However, even a built in camera on your laptop, 10 minutes in Windows Movie Maker, and you now have a passable video resume.

Viewers are more interested in answers to questions they asked...:
Good news! This is not an interview. A candidate should be showcases their technical skill sets, their personalities, intangible skills, and passion for what they do. It is to streamline the hiring process...not replace it!

There is a lot to a video resume, yes. However, they are effective time saving and marketing tools for both candidates and employers!

Anonymous said...

If you give no thought to the creation of the video, then this piece might apply. Shooting a video with a phone or cheap camcorder in your messy bedroom while wearing a tee shirt exclaiming the virtues beach sex may not go over well with some employers. More and more companies will ONLY accept video resumes, so do the video right.

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