The Video Resume

Corporations have been working hard to get us to buy their products and services for decades. Over the years, they have moved from print and billboards to television and movies.

They have learned to be sophisticated and fun. In fact, many of us email our friends funny and entertaining advertisements. Lots of people watch the Super Bowl just because of the commercials that corporations spend millions of dollars preparing.

Yet the only way an individual has had to brand themselves to a prospective employer is by creating a resume. And let’s face it: the resume is almost always a boring document that resembles the price sticker on a new car more than a promotional flyer. Lots of detail, but not much sizzle!

While we may embellish them from time to time or exaggerate the details of what we did, they are essentially a chronological record of our working lives, devoid of personal information that might make us more attractive to an employer.

The Internet has begun changing all of this. Over the past decade I have seen several organizations attempt to profitably provide a service to create and distribute video resumes.

All of these efforts slowly faded away for two reasons. First, they often did not understand how to make a video resume useful, compelling, and cost-effective. Some of the early ones showed candidates in a mock interview or, even worse, reading their resume. They were boring and way too long. Second, distribution was clumsy and slow. Candidates had to mail a CD-ROM to the recruiter or had to send it over the Internet with slow, dial-up connections.

A New Situation

With the advent of YouTube, cheap video cameras, and a sophisticated video-savvy worker, video resumes are now short, often funny, and to the point. If you type “video resume” in to YouTube you get several pages of them.

Some are clearly just spoofs and others are produced for people who are in the visual arts or music business. More and more are being made by people who are not in the entertainment business. Websites are reducing the number of words and adding more graphics, pictures, videos and live interviews.

A recent clip on YouTube shows interviews with a number of young people about how they react to wordy corporate websites. It seems clear to me that recruiters need to learn how to better sell their jobs using video and open up to the idea of video resumes.

Recently the use of video resumes has gained worldwide attention, after a video resume submitted to USB by Aleksy Vayner, a student at Yale University, was spread all over the Internet.

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Some of the claims he made in the interview are suspect and much of it may have been a spoof. Yahoo! Video, on its Current Buzz site hosted by Conor Knighton, points out many of these claims.

However, the publicity surrounding Vayner has revived interest to the use of video resumes as a way to market and brand individuals seeking positions within competitive environments.

A few weeks ago, I was reading a blog written by Frank Mulligan, an executive recruiter and RPO leader in China. He referred to a service now offered by Wetjello that allows individuals to create video resumes and send links to prospective employers.

A simple Google search leads to numerous services that either help you make a video resume or provide a way to distribute your resume to employers. There are even job boards such as Virtual Career Agents that specialize in posting video resumes.

Here are a few thoughts on the use of video resumes:

  • Video resumes may result in more applicants. Realize that if you are doing a lot of college hiring or are looking for entry-level people, the video resume may be a good way to differentiate candidates and a way to get more qualified people to apply. Many younger people who lack in-depth experience but feel they have other qualities might rather put together a short video than write a resume.
  • Be clear on your website about your position on video resumes. If you think video resumes may be a way to improve your understanding of candidates’ abilities, let them know that. Give them some guidelines of length and what kind of content would be useful. Perhaps show a generic example. As this is new to lots of candidates, they would appreciate tips on what is helpful to you.
  • Make the video interview something you initiate. Provide a list of two or three questions that you ask candidates to respond to via a video. This way you get them to show their verbal skills and creativity without the need to bring them in for an interview. By providing the list of questions, you ensure you will be comparing apples to apples as all the answers will be focused around the same issue.

John Younger, president and founder of Accolo, a San Francisco-based RPO provider, says, “While I don’t think videos designed to replace a complete resume will ever take off, short videos where a candidate answers one or two particular questions will become very popular and useful.”

If any of you accept or are using video resumes, I would love to talk to you or hear about your experiences and get your comments. Send your thoughts to kwheeler@glresources.com.

As I have frequently stressed in other articles, the Internet is quickly changing everything about recruiting. Video resumes, guided by thoughtful recruiters, can provide more depth and understanding of candidates at a lower cost than a face-to-face interview.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for ERE.net, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at kwheeler@futureoftalent.org.

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