Remember the scene in Legally Blonde when Elle’s video resume gets her into Harvard Law School? Hers was so different from the usual application that the enrollment committee decided to accept her, despite her less-than-impressive credentials.
In much the same way, your own video resume, or video cover letter, can make hiring managers sit up and take notice — and give you a shot at that coveted interview.
The internet has made finding job openings a lot easier, but it also makes getting those jobs harder because you’re usually competing with hundreds of other applicants. No wonder hiring managers spend an average of 6 seconds perusing each resume. If you want to get more interviews, you’ve got to find a way to stand out, and a video resume will do just that.
Videos engage hiring managers
Even the best resume doesn’t have the “pop” of personality that video adds. Videos shares your body language, expressions, and tone of voice, factors that are missing from a paper resume. Drafting a resume with those non-verbal cues in mind can make it easier to tell a story with your video.
Note that your video doesn’t have to be complicated to be well done. Consider this simple but professional-looking video resume. It doesn’t rely on fancy visuals — only a blank background, some text, and a well-rehearsed script. Saji’s video here is a strong sell for her knowledge and experience. She showcases her presentation skills without going overboard on video production.
Video resumes are particularly useful if you’re in a profession that requires strong communication skills. Job hunters in creative professions can also gain a considerable advantage from a good video resume because it gives them an opportunity to demonstrate their creative talents.
However, a badly done video resume can backfire by instead demonstrating your lack of artistic talents. And once your video resume hits the Internet, it will be there for all future employers to see. You must be sure that both your content and your video style are appropriate for the occasion before you send your video resume to anyone.
What should you put in a video resume?
Think of your video resume as a mini job interview. Your clothing, demeanor, language, and subject matter should be interview-appropriate. In other words, don’t send a video of yourself surfing unless you’re applying for a job in the surfing world.
- Tell a story. A video resume is a great way to showcase something from your background that’s sure to impress the hiring manager, especially if you tell it in the form of a story. If you’re having trouble deciding what to talk about, write an outline detailing your background and think about how your experience is connected. What have you learned in your past that would make you a great fit for this new position?
- Be brief. Limit your video resume to no longer than two minutes — anything longer than that is asking too much of the hiring manager. 60-90 seconds is ideal. Read your script out loud, or better yet, record yourself reading the script, and then play back the recording. Hearing the words makes it easier to home in on the most relevant and interesting bits of your background.
- Be specific. For a truly compelling video resume, create a custom video for each job you apply to. You’ll be able to point out how your background makes you a perfect fit for that specific job, and you can even work in a line or two about why you want to join the company. For instance, if a job posting says they want someone with project management experience, talk about a project you managed.
- Add a call-to-action. End the video with a call-to-action, a sentence or two that spells out the next step and motivates viewers to take it. For example, you might ask the hiring manager to visit your LinkedIn profile to see the rest of your employment history. A good call-to-action makes all the difference between a video that gets results and one that does nothing more than entertain the hiring manager.
In this video, Kelly uses her creative background to tell her story mostly by voiceover, photos, and creative b-roll shots. She also includes her website as a call-to-action at the end.
To make sure you look your best on camera, wear the same kind of outfit you’d choose for an interview with the employer you’re interested in. Place the camera so that the lens is just above your eyeline and tilt it down a bit to get the most flattering angle. Don’t position yourself directly under a bright overhead light or you’ll end up with distracting shadows on your face. Finally, choose a professional-looking background — preferably a blank wall or backdrop in a neutral color.
If you’d rather not be on camera, animation is a great option. With animation you have the ability to bring any concept to life with ease, and it’s easier than you may think.
Here’s a simple template to help you showcase your skills.
To open this video and make your own edits, sign into a paid Vyond account or free trial and then click here to open this video template in Vyond Studio. You will be able to download videos on a paid subscription.
In this animated video resume, Michelle points to specific examples from her experience to prove her qualifications and uses animation to amplify her narrated story. She also added her video to Wistia so she could include a clickable call-to-action at the end to link directly to her LinkedIn profile.
Using your video resume to get interviews
Once you’ve finished making your video resume and have reviewed it for flaws, your next task is to get it in front of the hiring manager.
Of course, before you can send anyone a link to your video, you’ll need to post it somewhere. YouTube is a popular choice but may not be the best option for video resumes because of the ads and suggested videos that you can’t control. Vimeo and Wistia are more professional-looking options and are designed for business purposes. These tools give you control over your video’s appearance and give you analytics on your video so you’ll be able to see just how viewers are reacting to your video resume — for free.
It’s also always a good idea to include a video about yourself on your LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is the preeminent business-networking site, and embedding your video in your LinkedIn profile helps get you in front of hiring managers.
You also have the option of emailing the video resume directly to the hiring manager but don’t try this unless you’ve already started a dialogue with that person. Otherwise, the hiring manager will probably pitch out your video without bothering to look at it or even read the email.
Other ways to use video for job-hunting
Job hunters can leverage video for purposes beyond landing interviews. You might also craft a video as a post-interview thank you note, a tool to lobby for a promotion at your existing job, or a way to ask for help with your job search.
Sending a thank you note after an interview is a great way to impress hiring managers. If you’re going to send a thank you email, video can make you look even better. You can attach a video to the thank you email or include a thank you GIF in your written email. Here’s an example for you to copy.
To open this video and make your own edits, sign into your Vyond account or free trial and then click here to open this video template in Vyond Studio. You will be able to download videos on a paid subscription.
If you’re interested in moving up with your current employer, a video summary of your accomplishments is a great place to make your pitch. Karen Kostrinsky at Ellie Mae made an internal video using animated superhero templates to succinctly explain how she saves the day for her company on a regular basis; it earned her a promotion to manager.
Finally, a video can be the perfect way to ask for a professional favor, such as a job reference. And once you start your job, using video is a great way to introduce yourself to your new team. At Vyond, each new team member creates a video in their first week to introduce themselves to the company. Here’s one example:
Regardless of its purpose, keep your video brief and on point. The video’s purpose is not to lay out every possible argument in your favor; it’s to highlight your most important points in an engaging, distinctive way.
Don’t discount the power of video
Your video resume will help you establish an immediate, personal connection with hiring managers and can give you a significant advantage over other applicants. It’s a great way to cut through the noise, whether you email your video or include it on a resume website. With the right video resume, you’ll be on the fast track to landing a job you love.
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