Video Resumes: The Pros and Cons for Job-Seekers

With the popularity of YouTube and the proliferation of digital video, creative job-seekers are beginning to send short clips known as video résumés presenting their qualifications to potential employees to distinguish themselves from the legions of other applicants.

Two years ago, Sean Ebner received an e-mail from a job applicant that included a link to a website. Ebner, the vice president of professional services for IT staffing firm Spherion, was familiar with the candidate, who wanted to transfer from Spherion in Canada to a position as an account executive in its Phoenix, Ariz., office, having already received her résumé and cover letter.

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Intrigued by the link, Ebner clicked it and uploaded a 55-second video that featured the candidate, Gina Hanson (then Perkins), talking up her background and interest in the account executive position with Spherion. The video ended with her politely asking for an opportunity to fly to Phoenix, Ariz., to meet with Ebner and his team in person.

Ebner had never seen anything like it. Impressed with the confidence, initiative and professionalism that Hanson demonstrated in her video, Ebner brought her in for an interview.

Had Hanson not followed up her résumé and cover letter with her impressive little video, she might never have gotten an interview with the VP. Ebner says that when he first received her résumé, he saw that she was a Canadian citizen and was therefore less inclined to consider her because of the complexities around hiring foreign workers. The video made him realize that Hanson was worth getting to know.

"She recognized that as a Canadian citizen she'd have a tougher time getting a job and that I had other résumés to look at. She used this technology to get me off the dime and to move herself up as a potential candidate," says Ebner.

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The video Hanson produced did exactly what she intended it to do: It distinguished her from the other job-seekers vying for the position, and it helped her convey why Ebner should consider her for the job.

"Creating that video and being able to have him see me and my demeanor definitely gave me an advantage because I lived so far away," says Hanson. "I knew I needed to impress them in order to invest in flying me out to Phoenix, and I thought the video would make a strong statement about my interest."

In the age of YouTube, job-seekers armed with webcams and digital videocameras are now beginning to tap into their inner Tarantino and take advantage of the power of video to help them score interviews and ultimately land jobs. They're creating one- to two- minute presentations, during which they summarize the skills, experience and qualifications they possess that make them the ideal candidate for an open position. The idea of the video résumé is to give the hiring manager a better sense of the individual behind the paper résumé, so it's a supplement to traditional curriculum vitae-not a replacement. As Hanson's experience shows, it can be an effective way for candidates to distinguish themselves, provided they create polished, professional clips. But video résumés do have their drawbacks: They're not for everyone, including some IT professionals, and the emphasis they place on looks may make some employers fearful of discrimination claims.

A Nascent Trend

The growth of online video, coupled with the prevalence of digital cameras and video technology, has set the stage for the emergence of video résumés. WorkBlast, a Web-based company that launched in 2006, is looking to capitalize on the trend. Its website, Workblast.com, hosts and showcases job-seekers' video résumés in much the same way that Monster.com serves as a clearinghouse for traditional résumés.

Speaking of Monster, a spokesperson for the online job board says the company is exploring the use of video for job-seekers. CareerBuilder launched a video résumé service in June 2007. Liz Harvey, CareerBuilder's consumer products director, says her company had been considering featuring video résumés on its site for at least four years. "We were waiting for the market to be right to implement. With the advent of YouTube and the acceptance of short form video and it being so easy for people to create, it seemed like the right time to move forward with this product," she says.

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