Using Video Resumes: How to Make a YouTube Resume

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While video technology is hardly new, it is not commonly used to vet prospective job applicants. Some companies may refuse to view video resumes – probably because they fear it may end up being a legal minefield. Others businesses may just be unsure about what to do about them. Still, it can be a powerful selling tool for the right company.

Videos Show, Don’t Just Tell.

Some attributes just don’t carry across very well in a cover letter. Anyone can say s/he is a “people person”, but showing it is so much better. Then there are things that just have to be seen, or heard – art pieces, musical ability, a prototype or invention, even the right “phone voice” or sales pitch. Sometimes, a story or change of scenery makes a compelling case for a prospective job applicant.

The flip side of this is that videos provide tell-tale information about factors such as sex, race, age, and disability which are prohibited from being considered during the hiring process. Videos also provide information about things which are not protected from discrimination – looks, voice, weight, etc. – but which may hamper an effective job search. True, all this information will come out during a face-to-face interview. But at least the interview after traditional resumes have been vetted in a less biased sort of way and only qualified applicants remain.

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Scripting Matters.

There are no “errs”, “umms”, or slips of the tongue in a regular cover letter and resume… at least, one hopes not. But these awkward sounds can easily slip into a conversation with a camera. Traditional resumes can be written, edited, redrafted, and proofed by others. A similar amount of vetting is appropriate for a video resume: applicants should script the content of the video and practice it several times before pressing the record button. “Scenes” should be reshot if necessary, and the final product should be edited as appropriate.

Content is King.

Some people view multimedia as an outlet to go wild. Wrong. Prospective employees need to highlight their accomplishments just like they would in a written resume… except with the potential addition of brief testimonials (“John is one of the best students I’ve ever had”) or vignettes (“as sales manager at XYZ I achieved a volume of ABC. The key to my success was always putting the customer first. For instance, one day…” Then on to the next thing).

Production Value Counts.

Things look different on camera than they do in real life. The type and amount of lighting, make up, sound, even clothing might look appropriate in a face-to-face interaction, but may not necessarily work in a video. Too many videos are produced by the people that are in them, and it shows. Take the time to learn about things like lighting, pondering where and how to mount the camera, etc. – or hire someone to do it.

Time is of the Essence.

Most employers glance at resumes and cover letters for mere seconds. A video resume is sure to peek interest for longer than that – but prospective employees should not push it. If no guidelines are provided, keep videos between 90 seconds and 3 minutes.

The Bottom Line.

Should a prospective employee send out a video resume. The answer is a definite… maybe.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t make a video resume just because. Make sure that the video format has something to add that just can’t be done with a normal paper resume.
  • Ask before sending. No point in sending a resume that is going to be tossed, or in doing a 30-minute video when the hiring body will only sit still for two.
  • Do it right or don’t do it at all. Good lighting, polished script, and seamless editing are musts. Anything else says the interviewee is not professional.
  • Have a neutral third party review the video before sending it off.
  • Make sure there aren’t things that prospective employers SHOULDN’T see online. More than one applicant’s prospects have been destroyed by an inappropriate YouTube video.

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