The job hunt is becoming increasingly competitive, especially for new grads. One useful tool to set job seekers apart is the video resume. Though the infamy of “Impossible is Nothing” still lingers in the world of recruiting, a video resume used wisely can serve as a clever tool for candidates to emphasize their personal brands and distinguish themselves in a sea of paper resumes.
I learned some lessons here the hard way. When I was a college freshman, I made a video resume that I thought was creative. In hindsight, it was awful. There are many things I could say about it (I mean, I was wearing pigtails), but the worst part was that I robbed the employer of five minutes of his workday with aimless rambling. I didn’t communicate anything that set me apart, which defeated the purpose of making a video in the first place.
I’ll be entering the workforce soon, and the idea of creating a video resume has been on my mind again. After some research and the help of seasoned professionals, I have discovered a few secrets about what makes a stellar video resume.
1. Show employers a different side of you.
A video resume lets employers see a side of you that can’t be captured in writing. As Josh Tolan, CEO of Sparkhire points out, a video resume is not a replacement of your paper resume or a dramatic reading of it. Don’t waste a recruiter’s time by duplicating content.
Instead, show something different. For instance, since actions speak louder than words, show yourself working on your latest achievement. Walk them through a past project with screenshot visuals, or show quick snapshots of you volunteering in a job-related field.
You can integrate other media and information, too. Communicate a fuller picture of who you are by adding links to platforms such as Twitter feeds, blogs or online portfolios in the video “about” section or by annotating your video, like Graeme Anthony does.
2. Know your audience.
Employers are ultimately concerned with whether you’d be a good fit for the role they need to fill. Just as you would tailor your paper resume for different kinds of industries or roles, make sure your video resume aligns with the employer and the specific job. Cultural alignment is important, too. As a reference point, if they have a recruiting video, try to match the tone they set.
Tolan encourages candidates to “approach a video resume just like you would an in-person meeting. The key components of a good video resume are the key components of being a good candidate in general. Keep it polished, poised and professional. Dress professionally and speak with confidence.” Be clever and creative, but make sure the tone and humor can translate into the workplace.
3. Pitch yourself.
A video resume is your sales pitch that qualifies you to move further along in the hiring process. The hiring manager should be able to summarize what they learned about you after watching your video. Make sure your content is substantive, focused and relevant. It should accentuate why you are perfect for this job.
Focus on a handful of key takeaways, and say just enough to convince the employer to pursue you further because they like what they see. Jeremy Roberts, SPHR, advises, “A little bit of mystery is always a good thing.”
Lastly, be sure to have a strong closing statement. Summarize your takeaways succinctly and make a compelling argument for why the employer should talk to you further.
4. Know the limits.
A video resume is not a guaranteed ticket in. Though making a video resume demonstrates that you are willing to go a step further than most job candidates, by no means is it going to get you an interview or land you the job. If you are not qualified, a video resume will not change that.
Also, a video resume isn’t for everyone. If you are not comfortable in front of the camera, this might not be the best path for you. Additionally, a video resume may be unnecessary for the role you’re applying for. For example, if you are applying for a technical position where your skill set alone qualifies you, a video resume also won’t be the best use of your time or the recruiter’s, adds Roberts. A ten-second scan of your paper resume might be all they need and expect.
A video resume could make or break you as a candidate. It doesn’t have to be a fancy production, just shot on a point and shoot over the course of a week. Just remember that the goal is to communicate who you are and why you’re a qualified candidate for the job! So grab your camera, get creative and go get that job. Good luck!
Thumbnail image created by Derek Swanson.