How to Create An Awesome Video Resume: Dos And Don’ts

video resume featured
Written by Cassandra Chin

Here’s how to create a video resume — a great one that just might help you stand out in a saturated job field. And here’s what not to do, too.

aNewDomain — I hate to break it to you, but your resume is probably not incredibly unique. Great writing, exemplary work and clear references are all important, sure, but getting someone to actually read all of that information is tougher than you think. Most resumes get pushed into one huge file that some poor HR employee will have to eventually slog through.

Plan B? A video resume. Done right, it will liven up your application. Here’s how to create a video resume you can be proud of, and one that could help you get a job. And here, also, is how not to do it.

Represent Yourself Much?

A few years ago Matthew Epstein was applying somewhat uselessly for work, specifically at Google. His regular-old resume had gotten him nowhere, and he buckled down to simply get noticed by the tech giant. He said of the situation:

If you don’t have an impressive background, such as an Ivy League school or 10-plus years of career experience, it’s literally impossible to stand out from the crowd … The idea actually started as a joke between my brother and I, then I said, ‘Screw it, I’m going all out.'”

The “all out” experience turned into a four-minute video resume that conveyed persona, dedication and his unique skills in an attractive package. It secured Epstein a spot on Google’s interview list, where he made it into the third round. He did not end up being hired by Google, but the video resume (below) ended up garnering other offers for Epstein from a number of companies, including Salesforce and Amazon.

Video: Google, Please Hire Me

Epstein currently works as a marketing vice president for Zenefits, a successful startup that employs around 200 people. These days Epstein is glad he didn’t end up at Google: “I wouldn’t be where I am now, and this is definitely my dream job.”

He believes the video resume concept will never catch on to become mainstream, but that it can definitely help with a non-traditional job application. He says:

When you submit your resume, ask yourself (if it) would … stand out in a stack of 1,000? If the answer is no, you should do something that will.”

Some services, like Spark Hire, provide the tools for job seekers to not only create a video resume, but connect with companies who want that sort of application. Spark Hire is a two-way street — employers can ask job candidates to record one-way video interviews through the service, thereby streamlining the hiring process.

video resume 1 spark hire

Camelia Rodriguez, a Digital Community Specialist at Spark Hire, agreed that a video resume was a great way to set a job seeker apart from other applications.

There’s only so much a job seeker can say about themselves on a paper resume. Generally job seekers are expected to only list their education history, work experience and skills on a resume. A video resume can enhance the traditional resume and enables job seekers to go beyond all of that basic information and really show their personalities.”

To be clear, video resumes should not be taken lightly. If you’re going to create one, approach it in the same way you would present a portfolio to your potential company. The video should be specific to the position for which you are applying and should be professional.

Likewise, Rodriguez pointed out that the video resume should complement your normal resume to provide a fuller picture of the skills you provide. There can be a little overlap, but you are effectively increasing your exposure, and you don’t want the same information repeated over and over. She says:

In turn, employers can view a video resume to assess whether a candidate will be a good fit in their company culture and literally see and hear their case (via their communication skills, personality and charisma) as the best candidate for the job all before the interview takes place.”

Know Your Audience (i.e., this isn’t for everyone)

Jennifer Beaver, a human resource manager with Community First Development Inc. (CFDI) and Comfield Management Services, noted that the video resume won’t work for every industry.

video resume 2“It’s an effective tool for an application in acting, modeling or advertising, but in some more general fields they won’t be taken seriously. Undercover Recruiter says that the average job recruiter spends about five to seven seconds on any resume — if your video resume is five minutes long, that just ends up being a waste of the recruiter’s time,” Beaver said.

“[Video resumes] would be helpful so that you can see the person’s mannerisms, ways of communicating, body language in advance of a formal interview. The challenge with this is that it is obviously rehearsed, and I’m not necessarily interested in how well you can pull off a video of yourself, but rather, how well you can think on your feet, how well you can handle pressure, how you deal with difficult people, etc.”

The main issue with video resumes is the potential for discrimination, Beaver pointed out:

It’s much easier to discriminate (consciously or not) based on, age, gender, sexual orientation, race, etc.”

Human resources manager Audrey Hout agreed. As someone who has worked in human resources for the past 15 years, Hout said,

I can understand that for some selected industries and jobs it might be useful, but it could be an obstacle for certain categories of people who could face discrimination in the selection process, even though we have very specific laws against discrimination.”

The problem with video resumes is that not everyone is comfortable in front of a camera Hout stated.

A person’s level of comfort in a video setting might influence the opinion of the recruiting manager about the candidate, even if being comfortable in front of a camera is not related to the job requirements.

A lot of recruiters and managers have very little time to go through resumes; therefore, unless doing a video will highlight qualifications required for the job, people might not want to take the time to watch the whole video and might miss some important information from your resume.”

Ultimately, whether you are creating a video resume or updating your written application, a resume should be clear and concise.

“Make sure your resume is personalized for the job you apply for,” said Hout. “Look at the job posting and make sure you list on the top of your responsibilities the ones that match the job requirements.”

That said, Beaver and Hout both agree that format aside, a resume should be clear and concise. It may be a difficult job market, but even the simplest step of checking your grammar will give you a step up.

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Image credits:

All images: Screenshots by Cassandra Chin, courtesy of Matthew Epstein and Spark Hire