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HUMAN RESOURCES

Can I See Your Video Resume?

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It's certainly not because of the quality of his video. Banerjee was lucky enough to have a friend who is a filmmaker help shoot the resume, editing in clips of him in action and using professional lighting. Banerjee says there are some drawbacks, however -- it's difficult to tailor the resume for a specific employer. "It's not like a paper resume where you can just change things around."

But Banerjee says he still thinks there are more pros than cons, and the number of video resumes on YouTube may be a sign that a growing number of applicants agree. YouTube spokesman Brandon Boone says that the site has become increasingly popular for posting video resumes and other non-entertainment videos. "We're seeing more and more users share content not just for entertainment value, but also for other practical means," Boone says. "Video is a very compelling and effective way to deliver a message."

Then there are the horror stories -- which can quickly make their way around the world. A search for "video resume" leads quickly to "Impossible is Nothing," a 6 minute, 43 second viral Web hit that started out as a video resume sent in 2006 to investment bank UBS by Aleksey Vayner, then a Yale University student and aspiring financier.

Like many user-generated Web videos, Vayner's clip -- in which he demonstrates his ballroom dance skills, his tennis serve, bench-pressing prowess, and an egomaniacal speech on achieving one's goals -- is an argument for the idea that just because you can create a video resume, doesn't mean you necessarily should.

"It was actually a textbook example of what not to do, from its length to its tone," says Vault's Oldman.

For employers, however, video resumes can offer the chance to get a better look at a candidate before going to the expense and effort of bringing them in for a real interview. "There will be fewer hugely disappointing interviews," Oldman says. "You are seeing a person in a level of detail that you wouldn't before."

But because the medium is so new and lacks any clear-cut standards or formats, employers need to be careful to differentiate between video production skills and actual, relevant job skills. Being good at lighting a set and using editing software doesn't necessarily mean someone can close a sale. Employers should look for a well-crafted together video resume, but not give too much weight to fancy video techniques or flashy graphics. Instead, employers should look for energy, speaking skills, professionalism and confidence.

For some human-resources departments, those visuals might cause a problem. During hiring, some companies go so far as to black out the names of applicants to avoid the possibility of any kind of bias by their hiring staffs. Banerjee says a friend told him to kiss corporate America goodbye after including his video resume with several applications. "They don't want to say your looks influence your application at all," Banerjee says.

CareerBuilder.com's Harvey disagrees. "Video content doesn't change the equal opportunity regulations employers are subject to," she says.

Oldman agrees. "The same could be said of the interview process," he says of any bias in seeing an applicant through a video resume. "I don't think video resumes inject a completely new dimension."

That said, a lack of seriousness can still sink an applicant. Vayner and his bench press may have become a viral Web sensation -- but he was really looking for a job, of course. "It's definitely important for job seekers to keep their video resumes as professional as possible," Harvery says.

Last updated: Sep 12, 2007




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