November 5, 2020·10 min read
Tired of not hearing back on applications? Job searches can be demoralizing—especially right now—but video can help you stand out, get noticed, and have your application shortlisted.
Finding work has grown tougher. This you already know. But did you know you can use a video resume to get a job? As businesses quickly adapt to the changing global climate, so must the way you frame your skills and expertise. Video is a flexible, powerful, and durable way to keep up—and not that much effort.
To understand just how powerful video job applications are, consider how far we’ve come from the days when you showed up in formal attire to drop off a paper resume. The work world is now mostly remote. Zoom is used for everything from team outings to themed office parties. How you convey yourself needs a similar refresh, and nothing comes closer to showing up in-person than sending a video job application where you show, not tell, what a wonderful candidate you’d be.
Video is easier than you think. It’s also more effective than you’d believe. In this article, we’ll cover everything from how to write a video resume script to how to make a video resume. As someone who’s spent the last 11 years in recruiting I can tell you, recruiters will love you for sending videos. And that, in turn, will mean more callbacks.
- 1.What is a Video Resume?
- 1.1The Benefits of a Video Resume:
- 2.What to Say on a Video Job Application
- 2.1Write a Video Resume Script
- 2.2Pick a Recording Device
- 2.3Get the Right Setup for Your Video Resume
- 2.4Record Several Takes
- 2.5Give the Video Resume One Last Watch before Sending
- 2.6Send Your Video Resume
- 3.Tips for Recording Application Videos
- 3.1Tips for Recording Video Applications:
- 4.Five More Types of Application Video
- 4.1Send Follow-Up Video After an Interview
- 4.2Post an “About Me” Video to LinkedIn
- 4.3Send Video Reactions and Responses
- 4.4Create Mini “Case Study” Videos About Past Work
- 4.5Send Video Introductions for Others
- 5.How to Get Started With Video Resumes
What is a Video Resume?
A video resume is just what it sounds like—you apply to a job with a link to a video where you talk through what you’d otherwise write. It can complement your written application, or it can replace it. Video applications and resumes are effective because they’re still (surprisingly) not that common and they communicate a lot of information very quickly.
Whereas a text cover letter leaves much to the imagination, video communicates your winning personality through multiple media. It combines visuals, audio, and text (via captions) all at once—a higher information throughput, if you will, despite the fact that watching takes less effort than reading.
Video resumes are also what salespeople call a “pattern break,” where you catch people’s attention by being different. In this case, it’ll help your resume leap out of the pile. Just imagine being a recruiter. If you’re sifting through dozens of long, monotonous, third-person cover letters and you come across a video, you won’t just thank that candidate—you’ll never forget them.
There are more reasons why video resumes are so effective. Over the past decade, the interview process has evolved into something like a talent show and interviewers expect to see a holistic version of a candidate. If the candidate is as good as they say they are, companies want to see.
For a salesperson, that could be running through a mock sales call. As a marketer, it could mean rewriting a case study. For a developer, it could be drawing out a database architecture. Video gives you a chance to show what you know and demonstrate that you’re the kind of person who the company would love to have around.
The Benefits of a Video Resume:
- Stand out and be memorable
- Show, don’t tell, how you’re a great fit
- Make a connection with the recruiter
- Use video to get a job with less searching
- It’s free
- Did I mention it’s free?
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What to Say on a Video Job Application
Write a Video Resume Script
Writing out bullet points should be plenty—the idea is simply to organize your thoughts before recording. When writing your video resume script:
- Keep the introduction short: Forty-five seconds is enough.
- Keep the entire video short: Anything over two minutes and you’ll begin to lose people’s attention.
- Begin with why you’d be a great candidate: What should a video resume say? Mostly, things that make you stand out. You’ll do a better job of hooking
- recruiters’ interest if you can show that you’ve researched the company and understand its needs well enough to explain it back to them.
- Share why you’d be excited to work for the company: Recruiters want to know that your heart is in it. If you can’t give a clear reason, it makes it appear as if you aren’t excited about the role.
- Whenever possible, show rather than tell: Saying you’re a good collaborator gets the point across. But telling a story about how coworkers appreciated your collaboration on a project is far more effective, and gives recruiters reasons to tell the hiring manager about you.
Before recording, check how long your video resume scripts are with Vidyard’s script timer tool
Pick a Recording Device
Your laptop and your smartphone will work great for recording most video job applications. (There’s really no need to go purchase new equipment unless you’re determined to have your application come across as highly-produced. In which case, a DSLR and a lavalier microphone can help.)
There are many ways to record your video, but you may want a video hosting tool (like Vidyard). Video files can get pretty big and often exceed 25 Mb, which is the biggest file you can email. And if you send the file via Dropbox or file storage, you may run into issues where recipients don’t have permission to view it.
A video hosting platform makes it all simple: It lets you record the video, hosts it, and gives you a link to share. When someone clicks the link, they’re taken to a page where they can watch.
Get the Right Setup for Your Video Resume
When it comes to your recording setup, it’s best to face a source of natural light such as a window. For audio, try to record somewhere as quiet as possible. Use headphones if you have them, a plug-in microphone if not.
Record Several Takes
Once recording, introduce yourself, talk about what business is looking for, and why you’re a great candidate. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve done more than just read their recruiting page—talk about the impact you can have on the business. Always end your videos with a clear call to action—the thing you hope the recruiter does after watching your video application.
Record as many takes as you like and delete the rest. If you feel a little awkward on camera, that’s normal—just remember, recording to your computer is free and you can do as many as 10 or 15 takes if that feels good.
Give the Video Resume One Last Watch before Sending
Did you capture everything you meant to? Do you come across as personable? You may consider getting a friend’s feedback, as we often look and sound strange to ourselves on camera, but when in doubt, send it. Better to have something out there and a shot at the role than to wait so long you miss it!
Send Your Video Resume
There are several ways to share the video. If you’re using a free video hosting platform like Vidyard, you can include the link in your resume or cover letter, or send it in an email.
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Tips for Recording Application Videos
Below are tips for how to make a video resume and maximize its impact. That said, this is not a checklist! What matters more than anything is the fact that you’re using video. That alone will help you stand out. Nailing some of the more advanced pieces below can help, but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good—better to get something out so you don’t miss out on the role.
Tips for Recording Video Applications:
- Bring your camera up to eye-level: For the best look, stack books or boxes so you’re looking directly into the camera. (Too high or too low and you won’t look like yourself.)
- Record in natural light: Natural light beats artificial light. The best place you can record is indoors facing a window. The next best is facing artificial light, but with light diffusers (those umbrellas you see on photoshoots) so the light isn’t too harsh, and doesn’t cast strange shadows.
- Record with a plug-in microphone: As anyone who spends a lot of time doing Zoom interviews knows, poor-quality audio is a lot more annoying than poor-quality video. If someone’s video freezes, the conversation can continue. But if the audio freezes? It’s over. For the best audio, use either a lavalier microphone that clips to your clothing or a plug-in microphone of the sort that you’d use for recording a podcast.
- Use props: The video doesn’t have to be just you talking at the camera. Use a whiteboard to draw a diagram, use your laptop to present, or, if you have access to the company’s products (a t-shirt, hat, phone, plant, etc.), hold it up and show you’re already a fan.
- Watch yourself on camera and reduce filler words: Everyone has a preferred filler word. Mine is “like.” Yours may be “um.” Practice until you can eliminate it and you’ll be better understood.
- Select an intriguing thumbnail: If the default thumbnail (the image that shows before your video plays) is you sneezing, switch it up. Thumbnails with you waving at the camera tend to earn more clicks.
High-quality productions are great. But at the same time, social media has conditioned most of us to be pretty darn fine with shaky, hand-held videos. Feel free to break all the above rules if it helps you be more yourself.
For instance, one job seeker, Jonathan Mahan, recorded a video walking outside and it’s a brilliant example of being your true and authentic self. (No green screen needed!)
Five More Types of Application Video
Video is a versatile tool and once you’re comfortable with it, you can start to apply it everywhere throughout the hiring process. It is, after all, a way to increase the odds that you stand out and hear back. Why not use it at every touchpoint? Below, a few other video formats you can try:
Send Follow-Up Video After an Interview
Thank interviewers with a video where you reiterate your and their top points. This is your opportunity to show that you were listening, and demonstrate you left the interview even more enthused about the role. (Assuming you are in fact enthused about the role!)
Post an “About Me” Video to LinkedIn
Record a general video about yourself, your experience, and your aspirations, and post it to your LinkedIn profile and similar talent sites. This helps you increase the chances that you’ll stand out to recruiters searching for you. To ensure people find it, add “Watch my video 👋” to your LinkedIn headline.
Send Video Reactions and Responses
If hiring managers or recruiters have unresolved concerns or questions, send video responses. For instance, if they ask, after a call, for you to follow up with more information, address their concerns head-on with a video where you acknowledge and respond to their concern.
Create Mini “Case Study” Videos About Past Work
If you left your last company on good terms, ask for their help creating a mini “case study” for what you accomplished there. You can stitch several clips together—one of you introducing yourself and one of your former boss talking about how effective you were. See examples of case studies for a tried-and-true format.
Send Video Introductions for Others
Right now, job-seeking is a team sport. Plenty of people are looking and if you come across a role that’s not a fit for you but would be a fit for someone you know, send a video message to the recruiter telling them to have a look at your friend. Recruiters are on quotas—they’ll be grateful for the help, and so will your friend.
How to Get Started With Video Resumes
The good news is that not much is needed. If you buy into the idea that recruiters are busy people who have trouble telling all the cover letters they receive apart, then you buy into the idea that video helps you get found and earn responses. It’s novel, it’s a way to show your personality, and it allows you to make a quick connection and get your foot in the door, even with many other candidates ahead of you. But you know what else you can do?
Share this article! It’s a tough job market and we have to all be in it together. If you can use video to get a job, others can too. And as Vidyard’s own Katie Bentz discovered, it can make all the difference in helping a friend find work.
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Sarah is an energetic and charismatic recruitment lead who specializes in supporting SaaS-based companies find and secure top talent.