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Video Resumes, what HR and hiring managers really think

video resume

Sloan Sabbith can pull off a video resume/reel with brains and beauty

Video Resume

Hiring manager:  “Video Resume??  Seriously, a video resume?”

HRNasty:  “If you don’t have one, you wouldn’t get hired here.”

The above is a recent dialogue I had with one of our Directors as we were prepping to interview a candidate. The candidate had video resume. The candidate also had a cover letter, traditional resume, LinkedIn profile and a Google+ account. For the record, I didn’t take the above tone with our hiring manager because it was the truth. I came back at this hiring manager hard to prove a point and acted like I was surprised she didn’t have a video resume. I was trying to act like the hiring manager was behind the times in an effort to change their skeptical mindset around the video resume before they went into the interview.     

Earlier this week, I delivered a 3-hour presentation to a class of job seekers and the question of the Video Resumes came up. I hadn’t been asked this question before in a classroom setting but I have a lot to say on the topic after seeing 100’s of them. Between the two recent events, I thought a blog post is in order.   

I have read and heard opinions from many hiring managers who will talk positively about a video resume.  I don’t think they are giving you the complete truth.  They are being “nice” and don’t want to hurt your feelings.  I want to open the kimono on video resumes and hopefully, my logic will make sense.     

Generally speaking, I don’t care for video resumes because they work against most candidates. I can see where they would be useful, and I can see where they would be “required” for some positions, but for the most part, this is an ill-used tool in the war on the job hunt. This is a pair of nunchucks in the hands of a high school jackass that had a few too many beers. Our JackAss starts swinging the nunchucks with an impressive enough start, but you quickly realize that this is a train wreck in the making and it is only a matter of seconds before our boozed up adolescent bonks himself in the back of the head, or worst, the family jewels. You know it’s coming. You don’t want to watch, but there is the voice that whispers in your ear. . .”Stick around, this is going to be interestingggg”. And then WHACK! Our JackAss is laying in the fetal position with his hands grabbing his junk, writhing in pain. 

Video Resume’s. . .  If you are interviewing to be a TV newscaster, TV sportscaster, or an actor, then, by all means, shoot the video resume. Actually, in these fields, the video resume and the “reel” two are very different tools. A reel gives a producer/agent an idea of what you look and sound like on film. A video resume is more focused on your work history and your accomplishments. If you are going into public relations, public speaking, or anything position where your voice AND your face will be a selling factor I can see the application of a video resume. I can see its usefulness in some sales positions. If a video is relevant to the position you are interviewing for, then, by all means, spin one up. 

There are either not very many positions where a video resume is necessary or I haven’t seen enough video resumes that do justice to the actual job I was hiring for. I haven’t ever said, “we can’t give an offer to this candidate, they don’t have a video resume”. 

So lets first talk about how a recruiter would theoretically use a video resume. 

I would use a video resume to gain an additional “look” at a candidate before I picked up the phone for the initial phone interview. Below I list my path to scheduling a phone interview.    

  1. The cover letter gives me an idea of whether or not they are professional enough to submit one and if the candidate has written communication skills.
  2. The resume gives me an idea of their work experience and their accomplishments.
  3. 1st link I will click:  LinkedIn/GitHub (for developers) gives me an idea of their professional background.
  4. 2nd link I will click: Blogs/personal websites give me an idea about the candidates thought leadership, writing style or work. 

Up until this point, I don’t know if this candidate has any verbal communication skills or how they present themselves. If I want to peel back the onion and see the next couple of layers, I need to go to step number 5 and 6 below OR, I click on the link to the video resume. 

  1. The phone interview gives me an idea about their verbal communication skills.
  2. The in-person interview gives me an idea of how they present themselves, face to face communication and the opportunity to dig further into the work history.  I also get an indication if they can think on their feet. 

If the candidate has a video resume, they just increased their engagement time with me and although they haven’t “passed” step 5 and 6, they have an opportunity to increase my engagement and urgency around contacting this candidate. They just gained the opportunity to move forward a couple of steps in the hiring process and without a video resume, this doesn’t happen.   

Video Resume’s sound good in theory  

So why do video resume’s get in the way?  More often than not, when I submit a candidate to the hiring manager and there is a video resume included, the hiring manager moves past natural curiosity to pure skepticism and this is BEFORE they have seen the video resume. More often than not, the mentality is usually; “I don’t want to hire anyone that turns in a video resume.” It is a hurdle that I as the recruiter have to overcome with the hiring manager.It would be easier to sell a candidate without the link.

Here is my personal theory on why video resumes get such a bad wrap. Hiring managers usually fall into Gen X and the Baby Boomer Generation. Millenials are usually creating the video resume and I rarely see a video resume from a Baby Boomer. This generation doesn’t usually fall into the “early adopter” demographic and video resumes aren’t mainstream yet. The Video Resume is just too new. These older generations are typically a bit more traditional. This generation resisted texting, email, and smartphones. I am not saying they don’t have them, I am saying it took a little longer to adopt. This is a generation that still appreciates a face-to-face meeting and a phone call vs. email.   

Responses I have heard of the video resume:

  • Seriously?  A video resume?
  • What happened to the traditional resume on paper?

As a candidate, I do not want the hiring manager thinking negatively about me. The above comments prove they are not positive. Remember, you are trying to put your best foot forward and make the best impression that you possibly can. This is easy to do with a resume because all it takes is a computer.  Video resumes, on the other hand, become much more complicated.  Lighting, picture quality, editing, and then, of course, your presentation layer. Most candidates have some idea about how to write a resume. Most candidates don’t have any idea on how to go about creating a video resume and just “go for it”. Set up the camera on a tripod, get in front and start talking and call it a wrap. Trust me, it shows.       

Video resume expectations

In today’s day and age where movies cost 100’s of millions of dollars, the expectations of the average viewer are exponentially higher than they were even years ago. I usually end up trying to justify video quality to the interviewers who will be viewing the video. I have my spiel:

Relax!  All the young people are doing it these days!  If you don’t have a Video Resume and a QR code, you wouldn’t get hired here competing with these tech-savvy Millennials. You are not paying 18.00 to see Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie in this summers blockbuster. This is a video resume. It is just another look at the candidate biatch. This is ONLY going to give you a glimpse into their personality and let you know if they are articulate. Never mind they filmed this in their backyard, or in their kitchen. Never mind the lighting sucked and the picture isn’t steady. Put that out of your mind and just focus on the presentation layer.” 

In the end, most viewers are not able to get past the stigma of what they are viewing and they go into the interview with a negative mindset. Expectations are just too high for the average videographer to pull this off. 

If I were to address a room full of candidates and make a generalization, I would say that there is too much liability for a video resume. There may be a few individuals who have the equipment and the knowledge, but I don’t think a point and shoot that takes video is going to cut it.

If you are a hot woman or a great looking guy, you REALLY need to be intelligent to pull this off.  The character Sloan Sabbith from my favorite TV series Newsroom, played by Olivia Munn could pull it off.  She plays a super brain newscaster that happens to be extremely hot. Her character has a PhD. She is also very articulate. 

If after all of the above, you still want to give the Video Resume a shot, there would be some things I would keep in mind as you create your next Indie. Please don’t mention you got the idea from HRNasty. I want no part of it. Keep in mind, you are not going to be hired because of your video resume. You only want to generate enough interest for me to pick up the phone and call you.    

  • Introduce yourself with first and last name
  • Keep it short.  I would say no more than 1 min and 30 seconds tops.  The attention span of most recruiters is next to nil when it comes to viewing job qualifications and we are not in the mindset to watch a 3 or 4-minute video.
  • Do not use your resume as a script.
  • Tailor your video resume the same way you would tailor your PDF’d version to each specific job you apply for. Different companies have different cultures, different dress codes and different vocabularies.  Reflect these differences in your each of your video resumes. 
  • Practice what you are going to say.  I have seen too many video resumes where it looked like the candidate went with the first take and called it a wrap. 
  • Look into the camera.  Newscasters imagine themselves in the living room of their audience and you should imagine yourself in a conference room talking with the hiring manager.
  • Thank the viewer.

Done well, video resumes can expedite the hiring process. If your equipment consists of a camera that shoots video and will fit into your jacket pocket, I would stick with the cover letter and resume. 

See you at the after party,


nasty: an unreal maneuver of incredible technique, something that is ridiculously good, tricky and manipulative but with a result that can’t help but be admired, a phrase used to describe someone who is good at something. “He has a nasty forkball”.

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