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Video Resumes & Cover Letters: The Way of the Future, or Just a Fad?

Video Resumes & Cover Letters: The Way of the Future, or Just a Fad?

Submitted by: Elizabeth Lightfoot, Senior Recruiter

An email from a colleague came through the other day sharing the story of a girl’s new approach on a cover letter – she had made a music video! She had a talking intro, then went straight into playing the piano and singing an Adele-style song (though not quite as dramatic). To be honest, at first it sounded as though she was over-compensating, and a bit immature, until I actually listened to the lyrics. This girl uses a song to explain her assets in detail, clearly communicate her strengths, and provide her objective. She’s dressed professionally, and she can, in fact, play the piano and sing well enough. However, the video is over three minutes long. About 1000x longer than a recruiter normally spends on one candidate review; and in full disclosure, if this were written in a cover letter, I wouldn’t even have read it.

So, is this approach to standing out in the candidate crowd brilliant or annoying? The answer is YES, and YES. It’s both. But this girl has already received multiple job offers and is making news in the Recruiting world, so she got exactly what she wanted. Recruiters and hiring managers got to see her character, creativity, personality, professionalism, verbal communication skills… the whole package. It’s a win-win, right?

Maybe, but maybe not. If everyone followed suit, it would take recruiters hours to review a small number of candidates, which isn’t feasible in a fast-paced environment and therefore wouldn’t happen. Also, most companies would still require a traditional resume or application, unless you are one of the lucky few companies that can do whatever they want. And of course, HR would consider this an enormous change to their workload, for too many reasons to even count.

Regardless, in 2018, the rise of video resumes and cover letters seems to be inevitable, and truthfully does make sense in a visual, digital world. So while we still have time to influence the direction of job seekers and recruiters alike, I’m offering 3 things for candidates to consider regarding video resumes/cover letters:

  1. Be selective about who you are sending it to. If you apply for every job with the word “Admin,” be aware that most recruiters are probably not reviewing it, unless something caught their eye on your written resume.
  2. Stay on track. This is not the time or place to audition for any primetime singing competitions, nor is it appropriate to go into your personal life experiences. This is a resume, period, regardless of the medium.
  3. Keep your packaging neat and tied up. Dress professionally, send a paper version, and only submit a video if you can do so easily – having to get help from the recruiter will position you as a nuisance, and the point of a video resume/cover letter is supposed to be ease.

Great candidates are those that have self-awareness and are focused in their job search. Great recruiters are those that can identify talent no matter what shape or form it comes in. And video resumes, as long as they are done methodically and sparingly, can speed up the process for everyone and create a more unique and individual approach to the job search. However, I think most of us can agree: unless you really have something to sing about, maybe you should save it for a karaoke night.

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