Video Resumes Scare Me – A LOT!

I’m starting to notice that this video resume craze is starting to pick up momentum. Last week I received an email from WetFeet.com – an excellent resource for company research, by the way – about a new partnership with CareerTV. I checked out the site and they’ve got some slick videos with job search advice, as well as a few video resumes.

On the surface I’m sure that these video resumes seem like a good idea to job seekers. Hasn’t everyone at one time or another said to themselves “If they could just SEE me, I know they’d want to hire me. This plain ‘ole resume just ain’t doing me justice!” Understandable, however the video resumes I watched certainly didn’t do anyone justice. Here’s why video resumes are a doomed proposition unless you’re gunning for a job as a news anchor and have a TV production studio to shoot your video.

First. The nature of this format makes you a talking head on camera. I’ve made a video like this before, check this out on YouTube, and it’s very, very hard. The camera is completely, 100% focused on YOU, all the time. It doesn’t blink, it’s mind doesn’t wander, it doesn’t look out the window behind you occasionally, it’s totally on YOU. This means it catches every stupid thing you do. Even something simple like scratching your nose looks incredibly unprofessional when it’s caught for all eternity in a video resume. What about when your mind wanders when you’re giving your pitch and you slide in some ums and ahs? Those will be caught for posterity too. Great huh? If you think for a millisecond that job interviews are nerve-wracking-just try making one of these videos. Unless you have a teleprompter, you have got to know exactly what you’re going to say and can talk about it with some enthusiasm and style.

Second. You have GOT to look professional. The few I watched on CareerTV had someone sitting in a rocking chair (talking about how energetic she was), and another person in her medical scrubs, which wasn’t so bad, but unfortunately she didn’t take the time to edit her mistakes out of the video. These videos have got to be the absolute best you can give. It’s your one shot! In an in-person interview you can at least realize that you’ve made some mistakes, and pull it back together toward the end of the interview. Once it’s on tape, employers can watch it repeatedly. It’s harder to erase it from their memory. Think of the funny videos you watch on YouTube. Same premise. Also, you’ve got to watch what you wear! Whatever you would wear to an interview to make a good impression is what you need to wear in the video. You’re trying to use it as a supplement to your resume, so why would you dress in anything other than a suit?

Third. Employers cannot not discriminate against you on the basis of your age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or religion-basically the things that have nothing to do with how well you do the job. By casually chatting on these videos you can inadvertently open up a Pandora’s box of issues that cause you to not be considered. One simple example: In your video, you state that you’re moving to a new city to be closer to your boyfriend/girlfriend. The phrase “to be closer to your boyfriend/girlfriend” is the problem. To you, it seems like you’re explaining about the move. To an employer, it’s too much information. As an employer, I get a vision of you turning down my job offer because you broke up with him or her, or after you move, you break up with him or her and plunge into the depths of despair because the ONLY reason you moved was for the relationship-which is now over. An employer may not want to take a chance on you with your baggage vs. a local candidate with less visible baggage. Stating that you have firm plans to move to the city is fine, if asked in an interview, you can say that you’ve developed an interest in the city and are looking forward to meeting new people. But discussing your personal relationships is just too much information. In an effort to be friendly and casual on the video, you can end up telling employer things that actually take you out of the running.

Fourth. Again, based on that employer discrimination concept, as far as I know, the laws have not specifically tackled this issue of video resumes vs. non-video resumes. I know that currently HR departments are overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork they need to regularly submit to some governmental agency to prove that they’re not discriminating. That’s just dealing with the traditional hard copy and emailed resumes they receive from applicants. I know of another company involved in video resumes (InterviewStream) and they have to keep incredibly detailed records to prove that all applicants’ videos are being viewed for the same amount of time. Think about it. The last thing you want is for an employer to not consider you because you remind them of a relative or former employee that they never liked, and to immediately close your video before hearing you out. You also wouldn’t want a candidate who did a video resume to get preferential treatment over you who did not do a video resume.

I know that there are some employers who like the new format, and to be honest, if I was a hiring manger, there are times when I’d wished I could see an applicant before bringing them in-but it’s because I know if I saw them first, I would not have invited them in for the interview. If you are still inspired to give these a shot, remember to keep it professional, dress like it’s an interview, and keep it as error-free as humanly possible. Good luck with that. It will be interesting to see where this idea leads, but for now, I’d recommend sitting on the sidelines to see how it plays out.

Melanie Szlucha has been a hiring manager for over 15 years and a career coach for over 4 through her company Red Inc. She writes resumes, coaches clients for job interviews, and works with them to strategize networking opportunities and job search tactics.

She offers a packet of FREE job search articles–worth over $100, through her website: http://www.reallygreatresume.com.

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