Men's Life Today: Career
Take Your Resume to the Next Level: Video
By Thomas P. Farley
You’ve likely seen video resumes spoofed on YouTube. And certainly, if you’re a fan of “How I Met Your Mother,” you’ll recall the episode where Barney Stinson (played by Neil Patrick Harris) unveils his own MacGruber-worthy version -- much to the horror of his friends. But for an out-of-the-box job-seeker, and a surprising number of employers, video resumes and interviews are getting some serious attention.
After a boomlet in the video resume industry a few years ago, the practice seemed destined to die before its time. The legal considerations -- that job applicants might wage Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lawsuits against companies if they suspected they were eliminated due to discriminatory reasons -- led companies to shy away from them.
But in the fall of 2010, the EEOC weighed in, essentially saying that as long as the company used the same good practices for screening a candidate via a video resume as they are legally required to use during an in-person interview, there should be no problem with using video.
To be sure, today’s video resume is nothing like the one on “How I Met Your Mother,” which featured Barney pretending to hang glide, surf and fly a fighter jet (among other feats), all while a rock soundtrack wailed in the background to the lyrics, “That guy’s awesome! He’s awesome!” No, if you want to land a job without making a fool of yourself, you’ll need to be a little more professional. And though many people worry about how they might come off on camera, the advantage with video is that you can do it again if you don’t like how it turns out the first time. (On the other hand, mess up an in-person interview and you can usually kiss the job bye-bye.)
TalentRooster, an Ohio-based business launched last June, claims it is second only to YouTube as a home for video resumes. “We did about 5,000 videos in 2010 and are adding as many as 300 new ones each week,” says David DeCapua, the company’s founder. These videos (which can be done at a participating recruiter’s office or via webcam using TalentRooster software) are meant to be concise and compelling and help candidates showcase their talents and enthusiasm. The aforementioned recruiters have reported that candidates using videos have a 30- to 50-percent greater chance of getting hired than those who don’t, according to DeCapua.
Companies are increasingly relying on video as well. “We grew nine-fold in 2009 and experienced a tripling of our growth in 2010,” says Chip Luman, COO of HireVue, a Utah-based company that was founded six years ago to help Fortune 500 and Global 1,000 corporations conduct remote interviews with candidates via video.
Although his company’s clients are businesses and not job-seekers, Luman says that interviewing by webcam has many benefits for applicants. For starters, since it can be recorded, a video interview eliminates having to answer the same question posed by multiple individuals during a long day of meet and greets. Another advantage is that they shorten the amount of time needed for companies to see candidates. For the would-be hire, that means less waiting between the first interview and (fingers crossed!) a job offer.
Whether you’re using video to snag an initial interview or to land a second one, it behooves you to prepare for your close-up. Here are some tips from the experts:
- Your video resume does not belong on YouTube. Maintain tight control over where your resume is seen and by whom.
- Dress and act on-camera as you would for your interview. If you’re targeting a hip advertising company, a funkier look and approach may be appropriate. If you’re an accountant, not so much.
- Webcams don’t have the best optics, so to look your best, make sure you have good lighting when you film.
- Don’t start recording until you’re sure you won’t be interrupted by barking dogs, a blaring stereo or crying children.
- Practice makes perfect. Don’t read from an off-camera cue card -- it won’t appear natural. But do plan and rehearse what you will say, just as you would for an in-person interview.
- Unless you are Barney Stinson, don’t ever sing about how awesome you are.
Thomas P. Farley is a regular writer for Men’s Life Today. A manners and lifestyle expert, he is also creator of the blog What Manners Most and host of the web television show “New York Insider TV .” Follow him on Twitter at mistermanners and newyorkinsider .