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Friday, November 21, 2008

Video résumés – A passing fad or the future for job searchers?

There’s been quite a bit of buzz on business networking sites and blogs lately about video résumés. What are the pros and cons of such a concept?

Upon first blush, these types of résumés might sound like an ideal way to constructively and convincingly build a case to get hired, but there are some definite down sides to this medium.

Most people are not actors, and posing in front of an unflinching and non-interactive camera isn’t going to bring out the natural flow that happens when you are projecting yourself in an interview. Anything delivered to the hiring manager’s desk in video form can potentially received as flat and out of context. The advantage of an actual interview is the opportunity to have the natural flow and ‘give and take’ of a conversation. Video résumés don’t deliver this.

Another thing to consider is that in the American workplace, revealing your age before an interview might actually be a way for hiring managers to make subjective decisions about your ‘value’ to the workplace in the backroom, without having the accountability of having a face-to-face interview. Ageism and bias for many reasons are already a problem, and this could be propagated even further with a video résumé, which can reveal a lot of undesirable things about a person before their credentials are even revealed.

It also opens up employers for legal issues. In an online forum about this issue with MSNBC.com, a poster identifying himself only as “Greg in Texas” said:

“I am an employer and I have no plans to watch a video of any applicant. The issue is of a legal nature. Would someone sue me because I chose a better-looking applicant who was less qualified? A younger applicant who is less qualified? You betcha. I would be hung up in court forever and ever.”

Another thing to consider is the detail involved with producing the video résumé- is there going to be an interviewer, or are you going to just rattle off your background to the camera? How are you going to present the format? Is this going to be a formal production with edits and transitions? Or are you going to try and run the camera without breaks? If you don’t spend the money to get this produced professionally, any attempt to bolster your business image could come off amateurish, and could take you out of the running, let alone ending up on YouTube!

The best way to make yourself stand out from the crowd is to be extremely targeted with your résumé, and take the time to punctuate your accomplishments. Quantify, quantify, quantify. Show your value proposition, and do everything you can in your current employer to add to your skill sets, or if you are currently unemployed, volunteer and take continuing education to show that your résumé has traction and you have value.

2 comments:

Darryn Severyn - InterActive Applicant said...

A couple of key points regarding the use of video resumes or online webcam based interview sites. These sites are not about acting. If a person is flat in the video, chances are they will be flat in the interview as well. Companies like InterActive Applicant (www.interactiveapplicant.com) give the applicant as many chances as they need to be sure that their video represents themselves well, before submitting to the employer. In addition, we also have practice area to ensure that the applicant is ready to record by the time they get to the automated screening interview within InterActive Applicant. Now, SHOULD the applicant impress the hiring manager enough during they screening – they will be a full opportunity to get into the natural flow of a full-fledged interview. The big upside to using webcam based interview systems is that you can now prevent yourself from being quickly screened out if you don’t have the keywords that managers are looking for. Too often, if you don’t have the past experience or the keywords in your resume, you will NEVER get a chance to show what else you can offer. If used properly, these webcam interview systems now allow you to SHOW more of your skills set and may get you the interview.

Regarding the issue of webcams showing age/race – well, by the time you get to the first interview, IF that hiring manager is going to use that as a screen out tool , it will happen at the first interview instead of during the webcam screening – the actual interview likely won’t change their mind. So, what’s the difference? Well, time saved for both the applicant and the person doing the interview. I DO NOT agree with it, but do want to argue that IF it is going to happen, it will happen – just later in the process after the applicant has spent time preparing for the interview (which would now be considered a big waste of time). The other issue about race/bias is what we like to refer of as “resume-bias” which is occurring a lot today. There are times where an applicant is from another country or has a “non-American” name and they automatically get screened out of the process based on their resume/name due to the misconception they “have an accent” or “cannot speak English”. This is a terrible injustice and using an automated video interview process like InterActive Applicant can really help these applicants to prove they have strong communication skills, enthusiasm and conviction. It takes away “paper only” decisions into a much more valuable way of assessing applicants – based on more than just their resumes.

Regarding Greg’s comment about legal issues, it really depends on which video system you are using as to how much risk you are taking. A non-specific video resume is probably the worst risk as there is nothing set up by the employer to directly assess skills and qualifications to job requirements. InterActive Applicant (www.interactiveapplicant.com) has done a lot of research around this area and has built a very strongly defensible system and one that is job-specific to help employer ensure this type of technology is used in the correct way – to assess applicant specific to a particular job in a more objective way – not just how good-looking they are!

And, I would disagree that the best way to make yourself stand out from the crowed is with your resume. I’ve been both a sales manager and ran my own recruiting agency for over 5 years, and as much as I hate to say it – most resumes look the same with minor variations. This is NOT enough to separate you. As I mentioned – no keywords, no past experience on your resume (no matter how good it looks) and most hiring managers put you in the “no” pile. You need to give them more and companies like InterActive Applicant are there to help do this – in a very professional and easy-to-use format.

Darryn Severyn, MBA, B.Sc.
Founder/CEO, InterActive Applicant
www.interactiveapplicant.com

Colleen said...

Well said, Darryn! You know that we are kindred spirits in this realm here at InterviewStudio.com (www.InterviewStudio.com). Video in employment screening is just in its infancy and will not be going away. It is here to stay. Remember that 15 years ago, many nay-sayers were convinced that no one would ever put a resume online in a public database since it was such private information.

We have discussed the pros and cons of video at great length on our blog here: interviewstudio.blogspot.com in an informative posting called: What's All This About Video Resumes?

Colleen Aylward
Founder and CEO
InterviewStudio.com