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  1. Blog
  2. Applying
  3. July 7, 2023

Should You Make a Video Resume? Experts Weigh In.

Plus, 6 tips on how to make an effective one

woman filming a video resume
Photo courtesy of Anna Nekrashevich

This article is part of InHerSight's Finding a Job series. Discover our most popular and relevant resources for finding a job fast—at a company that cares as much about your career as you do.

Are video resumes simply a fleeting trend or rather, an ingenious way to apply to jobs?

The idea of video resumes first gained attention in 2021 when TikTok announced the launch of TikTok Resumes, a pilot program allowing job seekers to introduce themselves to recruiters on the platform through an engaging video format. As TikTok sought to expand and enhance itself as a recruitment and job discovery channel, several large companies—including Chipotle, Shopify and Target—partnered with the TikTok Resumes program to discover talented candidates.

Now, in the post-TikTok Resumes era, some companies are still offering and accepting this application style from prospective employees. Recruiter and job search coach Marjorie Kalomeris says that, regardless of whether video resumes are merely a trend, they can be helpful to jobseekers. 

“If you want to shake up your job search and try a more attention-grabbing approach, a video resume can be a great way to do that,” she says. “They can be a really fun way to reach out to hiring managers or recruiters, but there is no guarantee that it’ll be seen or picked out of a resume or LinkedIn profile, unless you very clearly direct them there. It’s definitely a newer trend that can sometimes work to your advantage if watched. If the recruiter doesn’t see it, no harm done.”

Let’s explore all the essentials if you want to test out video resumes and discuss their value, what elements to include, and how to make them effective. 

Read more: If You Can’t Find a Job, Do This to Fix Your Search

What is a video resume?

Applicants aren’t just filming themselves reading their resume bullet points aloud. Instead, they’re creating introductions over video to complement their resumes and cover letters. These videos are often a great way to add a touch of personality to a job application and stand out from the competition.

“While traditional paper resumes have long been the norm, the advent of technology and the rise of digital platforms have opened up new avenues for job seekers to showcase their skills and personality in a more dynamic way,” says Angie Callen, a professional career coach and resume writer. 

Carolyn Kleiman, a career coach and resume consultant, sees video introductions as more of a supplemental personal pitch. "I have not seen anything where an employer has asked candidates to solely upload a video and that's the whole application,” she says. “People are typically prompted to complete an application, which largely repeats what's on a resume, and that's for compliance reasons. That's not going away."

What are the essential elements to include in a video resume?

  • Introduction: Start your video with a brief introduction, stating your name, your current professional status, and the position you are applying for. 

  • Personal pitch: You’ll need a concise and compelling pitch about yourself and why you’re the ideal candidate for the job. Highlight your unique selling points, such as your key skills, experience, and achievements. 

  • Professional background: Provide a summary of your professional background, emphasizing relevant experience, education, and qualifications. Discuss any degrees, certifications, or specialized training you have obtained.

  • Skills and abilities: Highlight your core skills and abilities that are relevant to the position you are applying for. Provide examples or anecdotes that demonstrate how you have successfully applied these skills in the past.

  • Achievements and projects: Discuss notable achievements or projects you have worked on that are relevant to the job you are seeking. This could include successful campaigns, major accomplishments, or specific results you have achieved.

  • Work samples: Whenever possible, include visual examples of your work. This could be screenshots, photos, or short video clips showcasing your projects, presentations, or other relevant work samples.

  • Call to action: Conclude your video resume with a strong call to action, encouraging the employer to take the next step, such as inviting you for an interview or reviewing your attached resume.

Read more: The 6-Second Scan: What Recruiters Look for First on Your Resume

Are video resumes actually valuable?

The experts mostly agree, yes, it’s worth a shot.

“Not many people take the time—or have the courage—to film themselves and put that out there. The ones who do are often rewarded by standing out amongst the competition, which is quite tough these days,” says Kalomeris. “I also think it depends on the type of role you’re going for. Is it a sales role, where you may be making similar videos to attract your prospects’ attention? Is it a training role, where you’ll need to record yourself training others? Then go for it! Any video or work sample that shows off your skill set for the role in question can be a great addition to your written resume.”

That being said, there are pros and cons to sending in a video resume.

Video resume pros

Video resumes are a great vehicle for elaborating on skills, experiences, or gaps in your paper resume. For example, it can be hard to explain in a one-page resume that you have an employment gap because you took time off work to take care of a sick spouse. In a video, you can briefly explain the gap and offer any relevant skills you learned during that time.

Videos are also easy to embed in your personal website, portfolio, or LinkedIn profile, giving prospective employers a chance to get to know a different side of you before an interview. They’re the perfect way to showcase your communication skills and personality, demonstrate your enthusiasm, professionalism, and confidence, and showcase your ability to articulate ideas clearly and effectively.

Lastly, most applicants don’t use them. Using a video resume is an opportunity to demonstrate that you’re on top of technology.

“I think video resumes could have a largely positive impact on candidates in creative industries, sales roles where personality and charisma are part of the job, or for young professionals who need a way to stand out since they have little experience. I would exercise extreme caution by sending in a video resume for more traditional roles like law, finance, or engineering,” says Callen.

Video resume cons

For starters, video resumes can be a large time investment if you’re new to shooting and editing video content. In addition, this type of resume format isn’t scannable in an applicant tracking system (ATS), meaning hiring managers might have to spend extra time and effort analyzing your video resume if you don’t supplement it with a printed resume. 

Video resumes also raise concerns surrounding bias and discrimination since a recruiter could consciously or unconsciously discriminate on the basis of gender, race, age, or other physical attributes. 

“You’re opening yourself up to judgment and bias, which is also why I’m a hard no when it comes to pictures on resumes,” says Callen. “It could work and make you stand out, or it could backfire, and that’s a risk you have to be willing to take. In my opinion, video resumes are a new trend that are used very little, which means—at this moment in time—they can be a positive differentiator. If they become a new craze, it’s just another piece of media clogging up the application system, so we’ll see where this emerging trend goes in the future.”

Overall, if video resumes seem daunting or a little too trendy for you, your industry, or your job search strategy, Callen says you can take the inspiration and translate it into a networking tactic instead. She says, “Video or audio messages to recruiters on LinkedIn tend to get good engagement and are read more frequently than a written message—because they get thousands—so it’s a good way to test the concept in a less intimidating scenario.”

Read more: Your Networking Questions Answered So You Can Make Genuine Career Connections

6 tips for making an effective video resume

1. Keep your video brief

Your video resume should be concise and to the point. Aim for a length of 1-3 minutes, as hiring managers may have limited time to review each application. Edit your video carefully, ensuring it flows smoothly and effectively communicates your message.

“Attention spans are shorter than ever nowadays, especially when a recruiter or hiring manager is scanning hundreds of resumes. Make sure to grab the viewer's attention early on and maintain interest throughout,” Callen says.

2. Dress appropriately and record in a clean background

Even though you’re not meeting someone in person, you still need to dress for the role you’re applying for and ensure the video reflects the values and culture of the industry you're targeting. Dress professionally and ensure your recording environment is clean, well-lit, and free from distractions. 

3. Practice a few times

Kalomeris recommends filming yourself practicing a few times first. She says, “Watch [it] back, and decide how you want your tone to come across. Do you need to project more enthusiasm? Are you aiming for a more casual tone? Don’t be afraid to tweak it based on what you know will work best for your field and the companies you’d like to join. Are you looking to work in media? You may need to pay extra attention to your production level.”

That being said, it’s important to be natural. “Don’t overproduce, memorize lines, or overact,” says Callen. “Be yourself. If you’re uncomfortable on camera or will need five hours of takes to get a decent video resume, I’m going to suggest you pass on this aspect of the search. It just isn’t worth it.”

4. Get creative if you don’t want to speak direct to the camera

If you’re not fully comfortable speaking directly to the camera and showing your face, you can still use a video to enhance your applications. 

“A creative way to infuse more of your personality into your job search is to add a voiceover to your LinkedIn profile introducing yourself,” says Kalomeris. “It’s a tool intended to confirm name pronunciation, but you can record a short sentence or phrase stating what you do. Adding more context than just your name can keep it fun and unexpected for the recruiters and hiring managers who may be looking at your profile.”

5. Elaborate on an element not in your application

If there was an element that you left off of your resume or cover letter, such as a volunteer experience, hobby, or unique skill, consider explaining that in your video. Make sure you show how your hobbies or interests are directly related to the position, company, or industry you’re applying to or how they’ll help you excel on the job

Callen suggests tailoring your video to showcase the key skills, experiences, and achievements that are most relevant to the role you're applying for and offer a clear and engaging narrative structure to guide the viewer through your story.

6. Don't forget about the technical aspects

You shouldn’t have to spend lots of money on creating a video resume, but you do want to show you know how to use technology as part of your effort. 

“Good lighting, clear audio, and a clutter-free background provide a professional appearance,” says Callen. “Pay attention to details like framing and editing to present a polished and well-produced video.” 

Read more: 10 Tips for Getting a Job You Love in 2023

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