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Should you make a video resume?

May 23, 2021

One of the decisions I have to make on a somewhat regular basis is how to tell a particular story. Should I write an article? What about a podcast? Would a video or live broadcast work better? How about a combination of all those media? The decision ultimately comes down to which format I think will best tell a story.

A video can often get across more emotion to a recipient than a written article. If you read a touching quote in a newspaper, think of how much more impactful it would be if you saw and heard the actual emotion in the person’s face and voice.

Many of you understand the benefits of video. A recent survey from LinkedIn of about 2,000 adult job seekers in the U.S. found that 62% of them believed sharing more about themselves on video would help them get a job. More than half would be excited to share a video talking about themselves and their goals with recruiters and hiring managers.

Hiring managers in the U.S. appear to be receptive to the idea, with 76% of more than 1,000 respondents saying a pre-recorded video of a potential candidate would be useful.

The data are from surveys LinkedIn conducted for the rollout of a new video feature called Cover Story. You can see more results from the survey and learn more about the methodology by clicking here.

Despite my years of experience with video production, I’ve never received or built a video resume. So, I reached out to Self Made Millennial’s Madeline Mann, who is a career coach and the host of a popular job search YouTube channel.

“For years, it was that doing a video resume was never asked for but it was something some people would do — a very small percentage… but they actually had pretty good results,” said Mann, who has also worked in recruiting. She added that video resumes are becoming more common due to the proliferation of videos and video calls.

The basics of video resumes

One of the biggest misconceptions people may have about video resumes is that they can create one instead of a traditional text-based resume. Mann said video resumes are created in addition to your other marketing materials like a cover letter or resume.

“It’s more of an extra surprise and the sugar on top,” she said. “The amazing thing is if it lands, it could be the difference between getting an interview or not.”

As for the video resume’s content, you should keep it short — about 45 to 60 seconds, but Mann says you may be able to get away with 90 seconds. “I think at 90 seconds you’re still in the realm of people making time for this.”

The key is to make whatever time you take up with the video count. Don’t waste the recruiter’s or hiring manager’s time with generalities. “Basically, what I tell people is that it’s similar to a cover letter,” said Mann. “Every sentence you say should not be able to be said by another person.”

For example, don’t say you’re a “hard-working, driven individual looking for your next challenge.” Instead, Mann said it’s best to give the recruiter or hiring manager specifics. An example would be saying that you’re looking for human resource business partner roles because of your experience growing companies from 100 to 1,000 employees.

“Let me get the narrative and impress me,” said Mann. “You want to be specific. People usually put too much fluff in it.”

Of course, she said it’s important to make the video look and sound good.

What about technical challenges?

Typical resumes should be tailored for each application, but that’s not really practical with a video resume. A job seeker could re-edit the video, but it would be a time-consuming process.

Instead, Mann said she suggests including an opening slide for the video tailor-made for the specific company. Then, you just need to edit the opening slide for each employer. If you have a list of target employers, Mann said you can make all the opening slides at once.

As for getting the video in front of recruiters and hiring managers, you likely just want to include it as a line on your cover letter or resume. Mann said it’s probably best to link to a video resume that’s been uploaded to a site like YouTube. The video should be private or unlisted — especially if it’s personalized to each employer.

What if you don’t want to be on video or don’t want to take the risk?

The choice to make a video resume is up to each job seeker, but Mann said creating a video resume doesn’t mean you have to be on camera.

“I have a built video resumes without ever appearing on camera,” she said. “You can use stock footage or images from your profession. It works super well and I’ve had quite a few people build it out that way.”

As for taking a risk, Mann said she’s seen people get good results by submitting a video resume without being asked for one. But, you should consider the company and industry you’re hoping to land a job in before sending one along with your application. Mann said most companies will likely be receptive to video resumes, though.

Andrew Seaman

Senior Editor for Job Search & Careers at LinkedIn News

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