6 Pros and Cons of Video Resumes
By Kangli Hu
First entering the recruitment scene circa 2007, the video resume is a two- to three-minute video where you introduce yourself to your potential future employer.
Career website Vault discovered that only 17 per cent of Hiring Managers had seen a video resume, but 89 per cent of Hiring Managers were open to the idea of them.
Here’s the brief and unfortunate answer — no, video resumes aren’t ready to replace the traditional text-based resume.
But there’s also a longer, more measured, more optimistic answer — while video resumes can’t (yet) replace the text resume, they are a very appealing and convincing complement to your regular CV.
The best way to work with video resumes is to treat them like a second cover letter. That is, you send your text-based resume to the employer and attach with it your video resume, which showcases your bright smile and talks about how much you’d love to work for this company.
In this way, the video resume can thoroughly boost your job seeking prospects. But there’s still a lot to be unpacked about the pros and cons of video resumes before arriving at a genuine conclusion.
The video resume’s best and most obvious advantage is how it captures a more complete impression of your personality.
In fact, regular text-based resumes have always suffered from an inability to demonstrate your soft skills and in-person communication.
It’s well-known that much of communication is non-verbal — gestures, tone of voice, eye contact and facial expressions. Some claim the ratio is as high as 93 per cent, while others are less effusive.
Only the video resume shows these non-verbal aspects; it’d be horridly awkward to write ‘I have an appropriately professional smile’ under the Skills section of a text-based resume.
So video resumes can be an excellent way to boost your job seeking chances in industries where verbal and non-verbal communication skills are essential — sales, marketing, HR, and media and public relations.
Even if you don’t work in these industries, speaking well is a major bonus to any job, so a video resume can elevate your chances anywhere.
There’s also one underrated personality trait that’s demonstrated as soon as you hit Send with a video resume attached: just filming and presenting one to a Hiring Manager shows your guts and your initiative.
Video resumes are still new kids on the block, and there’s always risks if you associate with them.
Being able to do it anyway says you’re not the kind of person to hide behind the status quo.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking video resumes are reserved for those newer and younger employees looking to upturn traditional methods.
Older employees with a wealth of experience can use video resumes to even better effect.
If you’re a manager and/or executive, your job already involves significant interpersonal communication, client interaction and conflict resolution. Soft skills only become more important with time, not less, and they’re also becoming more important for resumes.
If you rely only on text-based resumes, you may eventually find yourself falling behind other employees who keep up with modern trends.
An industry standard resume for most mid-level job seekers is between 800 and 1,200 words, and for executives it’s between 1,200 and 1,600 words. Despite being relatively new, the video resume has also developed an industry standard: two to three minutes.
It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out these numbers don’t correlate. Unless you’re a rapping superstar, you can’t reasonably speak 800 words in one minute.
The average human can only comfortably say 125 to 150 words per minute. It’s not wise to try increasing this rate, because you’ll sacrifice the invaluable advantage of showing your personality in a video resume and instead portray an ill-advised effort to prove how fast you talk.
Plus, video resumes lack the structure and pattern recruiters recognise so quickly in text-based resumes. The traditional resume presents a professional summary, full career history, skills section, education and qualifications, and potentially other sections such as references and/or awards.
The video resume only has time to focus on your introduction (the professional summary in the text resume), and all these other sections are usually forgotten.
With less information in a video resume, it’s hard to justify using them as complete replacements.
Unfortunately, there’s also another problem afflicting the video resume.
Despite presenting less information, the video resume actually demands more time from your recruiter. A text resume can be scanned and its most relevant information digested within 30 seconds — some say six seconds.
A video resume, meanwhile, is a lot longer, at two to three minutes, unless the Hiring Manager skips through after a brief view.
(Quick tip: that’s why your video resume should jump straight into the important information. Your face should be seen within the first three to five seconds, and stunning but irrelevant special effects can be reserved for later.)
Video resumes can’t replace the most valuable part of the text resume — presenting an overview and selected details of your career. They only give a snapshot.
At higher levels, companies will find it hard to justify giving you an exorbitant salary if all you have is a bright smile, no matter how beautiful it is.
Yes, this one’s pretty obvious: video resumes reveal your video editing skills.
If you’re a cinematographer or videographer, for example, video resumes demonstrate essential skills in the role. Of course, seeing as you’ve probably had to submit a video resume for every application, you’ve got a wealth of experience and won’t need to read this article anyway.
For the rest of us, as video and social media become more and more important, other industries are demanding video editing skills as well.
These include real estate (with their beautifully cut, sweeping videos of houses), training and education providers (such as yoga instructors showing poses on a mat), marketing (with promotional and advertising videos of all kinds), travel (which is like real estate, only with shots of gorgeous scenery instead of architecture) and many other industries.
Video resumes, moreover, are an excellent way of demonstrating your ability to edit videos with people — in this case, yourself.
Standard videos for houses, travel and advertising won’t necessarily include people. However, companies in real estate, travel and marketing will still be looking to complement their videos with more human elements.
Your video resume can show that you’re proficient at creating onscreen rapport with an audience by shooting human subjects favourably.
Of course, if you haven’t had the opportunity to play around with video editing in your career, it can be daunting to start. Luckily, this likely means other people in your industry are in the same boat.
If you’re a novice, all you need to do is keep your video resume simple. Learn how to integrate a background into your video and focus on the main things: your presentation skills, your tone of voice and your smile.
Remember, if you’re not a videographer, you won’t be competing with videographers for a job.
Even though video resumes exhibit your brain’s visual thinking, they don’t do much to show Hiring Managers your written communication skills.
It’s ironic that even as we read fewer books and as general grammar and spelling standards decline, writing skills have never been more important than in 2020.
Today, the average employee spends 28 per cent of their time on email — and since there’s nothing particularly interesting about email, unlike social media channels such as Facebook or Instagram, you can be reasonably sure all that email time isn’t wasted on games.
It’s not a stretch to say this 28 per cent (or 11.2 hours of a 40-hour working week) is reserved for genuine reading and writing.
Writing has therefore become one of the only universal hard skills for a job seeker: everybody needs it.
You don’t need to be JK Rowling, but it won’t be hard for you to imagine the last time you wrote an email, report, message, or some short article for your company. More likely than not, you needed to write something today.
In the modern working environment, spelling, grammar and general writing skills have never been more important. Other essential elements of writing, such as clarity, conciseness and tone, are under a brighter spotlight than ever.
The traditional text resume highlights these written communication skills, and even shows how successfully your writing can convince and persuade people.
If you only send along a video resume as your job application, the Hiring Manager may question whether you’re trying to hide a lack of writing ability.
Believe it or not, the first resume was written all the way back in 1482 by Leonardo da Vinci, some 20 years before he started painting the Mona Lisa.
His resume was a long, personalised letter to the Duke of Milan, recommending various talents and strengths da Vinci could offer to the city, which would be considered more like a cover letter today.
Luckily for young Leonardo, he started working with the Duke of Milan shortly afterwards, which means that as of 1482, the official resume success rate was 100 per cent.
It’s been declining ever since. Maybe the Duke was so flattered to receive a personalised letter he gave da Vinci a job on the spot, but you can be sure the gruff Hiring Manager blocking the doorway to your dream job won’t be so generous.
So traditional text resumes no longer create the same competitive advantage they once did, especially in 2020, where everyone can use fancy templates and resume services to boost their job seeking chances.
That leaves the video resume as one of the best opportunities to differentiate yourself from the pack.
To rehash from the beginning of this article, only 17 per cent of Hiring Managers have seen a video resume before. That means they’re receptive enough to this new medium without being blindsided by it.
(Imagine, conversely, if you sent a virtual reality video without knowing if they have the technology to play it.)
The first-mover advantage is a very real thing in the competitive job seeking landscape, and you can establish yourself as a leading candidate by navigating new routes other people haven’t even discovered yet.
As we reported earlier in the year, discrimination is still an unfortunate factor in the hiring landscape. A video resume can be a prime example of it.
One short video potentially reveals a lot of private information about you, including your age, sex, race, ethnicity, disability, and appearance. Hiring Managers can discriminate based on any or all of these things.
While most of us would prefer to not work for companies like that, it’s a lot trickier when it comes to unconscious bias. The Hiring Manager may not be aware that they’re discriminating on these things.
(For a more complete discussion on discrimination in the workforce, please see our article here)
For the long and short of it — sending a video resume early on in the recruitment process means you will be letting your age, sex, race, ethnicity, disability, appearance, and/or other factors affect their first impression of you.
Conversely, sticking only with a text resume means these things won’t come into play until after they’ve started moving towards a decision.
There are no easy answers on this point, but it does present the biggest challenge to the video resume.
Even if video resumes don’t give exhaustive career overviews and don’t show writing skills, they would still be an excellent complement to your text resume as a kind of second cover letter.
But if the video resume actually makes it harder for you to find a job because of discriminatory factors outside your control, then there’s no reason to use it at all.
So what’s the verdict on video resumes? Finding an answer is more difficult than it first seems.
Video resumes present valuable strengths (it shows your personality, displays your video editing skills, and offers a competitive advantage) while suffering from significant drawbacks (it doesn’t give a full picture of your career, doesn’t show your writing skills, and allows for discrimination).
If you decide to shoot a video resume, make sure to pair it with a written one as well, in order to get the best of both worlds.
Whatever your decision may be, here at Executive Agents, we’re willing to work with you to find the best way forward for your job seeking journey. Get in touch today for a free consultation.