The Rise of The Video CV
Along with a fresh perspective and a flashy wardrobe, ditzy Elle Woods of Legally Blonde stood out from her brainy peers at Harvard Law School with a pink paper résumé (“It’s scented too!”), which helped her score an internship at her professor’s law firm.
But in order to actually get into the prestigious law school, she pulled out all the stops and submitted a video résumé that displayed all of her best assets – physical and otherwise – to the admissions committee.
More and more these days, a video résumé may be just the thing to separate a prospective job candidate from the rest of the pack.
Indeed, with a plethora of cheap, easy-to-use cameras and video-editing software on the market, more job seekers are going the high-tech route to land a job.
While video résumés have been a requirement in some journalism and arts-related industries for some time, the concept is new to the jobs industry as a whole. According to a March survey of 309 U.S. employers in several industries by Vault.com, a career information Web site, 81% said they have never seen a video résumé.
But some employment experts agree that the trend is likely to pick up steam, especially among younger, tech-savvy job seekers.
In the Vault.com survey, 58 percent of employers surveyed said they would watch a video résumé “out of sheer curiosity,” 31 percent responded, “definitely, I think they are valuable” and 11 percent said they would not watch because it “would not be useful.”
Career Web sites jump on a trend
The video résumé had a less-than-auspicious national debut in October 2006 when a 6-minute, 43-second clip titled “Impossible is Nothing,” hit the Web.
Aleksey Vayner, then a Yale University senior, submitted the video, along with headshots and an 11-page résumé, to a Wall Street investment firm. The video bounced around to other Wall Street firms before being leaked into the blogging world. In it, Vayner discusses his ideas about success and displays his skills in weightlifting, tennis, skiing and ballroom dancing.
The video résumé ended up making Vayner a laughing stock, raising questions about whether he could actually bench-press 495 pounds, perform aerial skiing tricks or if a video résumé was a legitimate way to apply for a job.
But, more down-to-earth job seekers began uploading their résumé for free onto YouTube. Also, major job search Web site Careerbuilder.com has added a video résumé component.
And perhaps the biggest indication that the video résumé trend is catching on: Several video résumé-specific Web sites such as HireMeNow.com and GoCVone.com have launched in the past nine months.
Allen Bornstein, president of Lantana-based HireMeNow.com, said he founded the Web site because he felt that there needed to be a more professional channel for applicants to display their video résumés than YouTube, MySpace or Facebook profiles. So far, about 1,000 applicants have used the Web site since it launched this January.
HireMeNow.com applicants can upload video and their résumé information after setting up a free account on the site. Then, they can e-mail the link to potential employers who can access the video with a password. What makes the Web site unique, is that it sends applicants notifications if an employer looked at their video résumé, Bornstein said.
“It gives you an opportunity to know when to follow up,” said Bornstein, who previously was the president of employee recruiting company Workgroup International Inc.
Seeing is believing
In 28 seconds, Dr. Barry Frankel, who owns Eye & Ear Vision Centers in Boynton Beach and Palm Springs, knew that Melissa Perez had energy.
In her HireMeNow.com video résumé, Perez talks about the skills she has to offer and also what kind of job she is looking for, one that is flexible enough to allow her to pursue a biology degree. With another click of the button, Frankel could access Perez“s full résumé, which included her educational background and past job experiences.
Energy and a bright personality are key qualifications for someone who will be dealing with insurance companies and Eye & Ear customers and patients. “You don’t get any energy from a piece of paper,” Frankel said.
Perez said she got a callback for a formal interview within three days of e-mailing her video résumé to Frankel. Scripting, rehearsing and taping the video with a digital point-and-shoot camera took about 10 minutes, the 20-year-old Florida Atlantic University student said.
Submitting a video résumé “took the initial nervous-before-the-interview feeling away, because I knew they wanted me,” said Perez, who wants to become a pharmaceutical sales representative.
When she came in for the formal interview, “it was almost like we had a rapport already,” Frankel agreed.
He said he liked how he was able to more quickly assess whether he wants to interview an applicant or not. Also, he was able to simply forward the link to a second reviewer.
Through a video résumé, employers can see how presentable an applicant is and how articulate they are, all legitimate factors employers look for when hiring, HireMeNow.com’s Bornstein said.
Not quite on the video bandwagon
Not everyone is convinced that video résumés will become a bigger trend.
Juan Gaitan, a senior manager at A Prime Solution, a Fort Lauderdale-based job agency, said paper-only résumés still outnumber video resumes five to one.
He said while his company has postings on VidRez.com, a video résumé Web site, “It’s easier for us to adapt to it as a smaller place…. The major companies would have to do a major infrastructure upgrade” to accommodate video résumés.
Gaitan said his company receives around 600 applications weekly. And so far, no one who has submitted a video résumé has been offered an interview, much less a job offer.
One of the worst videos Gaitan saw was an applicant for a business analyst position, who while professionally dressed in the video, was eating fried chicken, while “talking about how awesome they were.”
Needless to say, the applicant was not hired.
Peggy Fleming, president of the San Diego, Calif.-based GoCVone.com, agreed that a video résumé should not be viewed as a replacement to the paper cover letter and résumé. She said that job seekers should look at the video résumé as an “early job interview,” and still submit a cover letter and paper résumé.
Many video résumé Web sites offer sample videos and tips on appropriate dress, length and questions to address.
A legal viewing
Video résumés are more popular in Europe, where it is common for applicants to attach a photo of themselves with their application, Fleming said.
It is also popular in Asia, especially in India where IT professionals send videos to American employers. Monster.com India has a video résumé option.
But Fleming said more stringent discrimination laws in the United States makes some employers hesitant to accept video résumés. “The legal aspect always came up immediately when we talked to companies, recruiters and agencies,” she said.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against an applicant on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability. But an employer can know an applicant’s race, ethnicity and gender before an interview.
An official legal opinion on video résumés has yet to be issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
In order to set standards among video résumé services, Fleming helped found the Video résumé Compliance Committee in May.
The VRCC is still forming, but she said she hopes that the committee will soon create standards and potentially even create a VRCC certification for future video résumé services.