Video Resumes

Video Resumes- The new way of making a job application

A video resume is an on-camera job application. You provide a presentation, saying who you are, and giving some background to your work and career. It's a bit like a personalized commercial.

Video resumes started in the 1980s, using videotape. They never really caught on back then, but they're getting a new lease of life from digital technology. They're a lot easier to upload, and there's no hard copy/player baggage, so they're more functional as marketing tools.

The jury is definitely out on video resumes.

People aren't even willing to say whether they're effective or not.

One thing, however, is quite clear. Somebody thinks there's a market for them. Video resume production is attracting business with companies charging subscription fees for online video resumes and producing them for job applicants.

The basic video resume works like this:

Scene: Webcam picture of person with background setting, home or office, etc.

Script: 'Hi, I'm so and so, I'm a graduate student at ABCD College. I majored in XYZ. I'm looking for an internship with DEFG Inc because I researched your internships and found that your interns out-performed all other competitors...'

In some cases, this also includes answering questions, like a job interview.

You'll notice there's a narrative here. It really is a script. These things are about 5-6 minutes long, (some say 2-3 minutes) and the script is intended to cover a lot, and do it effectively.

The idea is a good presentation where the personality of the applicant can be seen. That's considered a good marketing tool.

To be more accurate, it's considered a good thing when the production is good. A DIY presentation may not up to standard, and may not be well received.

Whether it's a practical idea is something else again. There are pro and anti arguments, and both have some points which need to be understood:

Pro arguments:

  • The applicant's visual presence is higher impact.
  • The employer has to listen, and can judge effective communication skills.
  • Broadcast speed is 120 words a minute. 5 minutes video is 600 words, and you can do a lot in 600 words, with expression, unlike written text.
  • It really is marketing. Presentation can be done very well, and the applicant can be presented in a very favorable environment.
  • Scripting is a help, because the content can be tailored, rehearsed, and made to sound very good.

Anti arguments

  • Some people aren't good visual subjects.
  • Some are also very uncomfortable on camera, and it shows.
  • On camera performance is more like acting.
  • Scripts may not be good, and may not be like the person's normal verbal performance.
  • Scripts can sound wooden, if not well delivered. You could have a good script and a lousy performer.
  • Presentation may be good, but there's no guarantee of the employer's favorable reaction. In fact, some employers of the old style may be negative to the new technology and method.
  • The credibility of answering set questions in a rehearsed environment is debatable. Those may not be the questions the employer wants to ask.

The Pro video resume arguments do have some solid points:

  • The video resume is an additional resource.
  • It might be the thing that separates the applicant from everyone else.
  • It is definitely an attention getter, for better or worse. At the moment, video resumes are the minority, so for the moment they're standouts.
  • That 5 or 6 minutes is also more time than many employers spend looking at applications, in many cases.
  • The idea of creating an identity for the applicant isn't all wrong, at least. The added exposure is a good idea, in that sense.

The Anti video resume arguments have some points which can't be overlooked:

  • Turning a job applicant into an actor may not work, at all.
  • Some people are just plain lousy on camera.
  • Bad production or presentation can wreck a visual performance.
  • A script will be either good or bad, getting a yes/no reaction.
  • Making a video resume the focal point of an application could backfire.
  • Providing the wrong information isn't exactly a positive move.

There's another point that hasn't been addressed in the arguments to date.

It's absurd to think that job application formats will remain the same forever.

The new communications, new technology, new workplace environment, and new job requirements will push changes through the employment market.

It may in future be necessary to provide a full digital application, with mixed media as a required component.

If employers want to see your work, what better way to do it, than a streaming feed from your online resume?

As it is, with many employees working on a contract basis, links to materials are a form of currency. You can send anybody anything as part of a job application. Many employers prefer it, too, because it saves them time, and gives them something specific. They have hard product to work with, not nebulous statements about your work.

If you want to promote your work, it's common enough, even now, to have as many forms of presentation on your website as you can fit on it. From there to a mixed media job application is a very small step. You can include your graphic portfolio, technical materials, products, ideas, as well as personal presentation.

So far the video resume is a fairly quiet achiever, but it's now starting to get some acceptance from US employers. The strong, career-oriented American environment is warming to the idea as a useful hiring tool.

One thing that everybody agrees about is performance. Like traditional applications, video resumes have to be targeted, and applicant performance has to be of marketable quality.

Common wisdom is that the video resume should be professionally done, not home made, unless you're an absolute genius with a webcam.

That's good advice, because recording isn't for the faint hearted. If you intend to have a shot at a DIY video resume, the following information will help:

  1. Microphones are very tricky things. Volumes matter. Set recording volume to no more than 75% of maximum.
  2. Microphone techniques are learned. Don't mutter, don't stop in mid sentence, do a pre recording run through, play it back, make sure everything's working properly, and your voice is being recorded properly.
  3. Make sure the vocal recording sounds normal. This is quality control, and it's also making sure you're sending an authentic version of yourself with the application.
  4. Visual shots should be simple. Don't get any more complicated than necessary. What looks great as a background may not look good on video, just a blurry mess, because of focal settings, etc.
  5. Webcams aren't great recorders, either. You can use digital camera video, on a steady platform.
  6. Check everything before you send it to anyone. The quality of the video resume is the make or break. If it doesn't look good to you, it won't look good to anyone else, either.
  7. Remember you're going for a job. Leave the major production to Spielberg. Concentrate on getting your message across.
  8. Be natural, be real. The employer needs to see who's applying. Personal presence does make a difference.

There's no doubt that video resumes are coming, in one form or another.

Here are a few articles on the subject, and some links:

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2007-04-24-video-resumes_N.htm

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120636767551059301.html

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1592860,00.html

MOST IMPORTANT: Check out everything about making a video resume before you commit yourself, your time and your money.