Video resumes: The good, the bad, and the ridiculous

Job hunters are turning to video resumes to stand out from the crowd. We have some tips on how to use a video resume to land a job, and avoid becoming an office joke.

Nick Belling was tired of his resumes getting chucked into the abyss. The Australian software developer was trying to land a job in Sydney, but wasn't making much headway. He'd been working in his hometown at the Illabo Public School as a school learning support officer, where he'd designed multiple software solutions, like an application called NetSpell for taking, grading, and tracking spelling tests, as well as an event management program called Carnivale. Though, there was a problem: "I knew I had the skills and the talent to do each of the jobs I applied for, but every employer basically took one look at my resume, saw that I had no industry experience, and instantly threw it out," he said.

There had to be a better way to communicate what he could offer to a company. Using his video skills, Belling made a video resume. According to Glassdoor's Scott Dobroski, making a video resume might be a good option to aid your job hunt -- but, there are a few things to consider before deciding to create one.

"If you're doing one just to do it, that's a 'don't,'" he said. Here are a few more tips to help you decide if you should do one and how to do it well.


Know your audience

Before you start, consider the industry and company you're targeting. Dobroski said using a video resume to get a job in a more creative field like marketing, might be more effective. Ask yourself if the company you're applying to has the type of culture that would welcome a video more than a regular resume.

"There are the obvious ones, such as sales, marketing and creative roles, but I know of employers in finance and even teaching who have hired people based on their video CV," said Aimee Bateman, founder of

Keep it short

Dobroski advises 60 to 90 seconds max for a video resume. The key to remember this: "It's a tease for someone to email you or call you and say, 'I want to hear more,'" he said. You don't have to feel as though you need to explain everything about yourself. This will also help with pacing. "People should avoid reading their CV to a camera like a script. It is very possible they will ask for a written CV also, so don't tell them what they can read in the document," Bateman said.

Show something

"If your video is a single shot of you talking, don't bother. It doesn't matter how well dressed you are or how well you speak, you need something to hook the viewer immediately," Belling said. He relied a few simple visual effects in the beginning, knowing that he probably had about 10 seconds to snag the viewer's attention. Belling was also able to show screenshots and the like of the software he'd created. This plays into advice from Bateman: Show substance. "You can use testimonials, pictures and examples to back up any description you give of yourself," she said.

"Showing" also extends to showing your personality. Dobroski said "be yourself and be straightforward. Your message should be simple."

Since a video resume can be a way for a potential employer to see if a candidate is a cultural fit, Shravan Goli, president of, said to get comfortable with the camera. "If you get past the barrier that there is a screen in front of you, your personality will come out," he said. This idea worked for Belling. "My employer has told me that the video worked because it not only showed off my skills but it was also a good glimpse into my personality and sense of humour," he said.

Dress appropriately

This is another area where knowing the company culture is important. Goli said, "Just because you're in your home, doesn't mean you can dress any way you like." That means, dress professionally, dress appropriately. Also be mindful of how certain colors and patterns will look on a video. Dobroski recommends steering clear of reds (which can bleed) and whites (which will wash you out).


Rush production

The most basic requirements of a video resume are that you can be seen and heard clearly, Dobroski said. Not everyone has the resources or skills to produce professional quality, but that doesn't mean you should just churn out a video. As Belling said, if you don't have a decent camera, odds are someone you know does. He spent four days working on his video. That included writing a script before shooting, and refining it. "I spent a lot of time watching and rewatching, tweaking shots and reordering them, making sure that everything flowed properly, and that as soon as it started to sound boring I'd go back and try to cut something or insert an overlay to make it more visually interesting," he said.

Forget to rewatch before submitting

It might sound like a given, but watch your resume a few times to check for unintentional distractions in the background (like a dog barking, or door slamming) or to listen for any, um, verbal ticks, you know? These are two distractors Dobroksi said shouldn't make it into your final cut. Goli also suggested making sure you know what's in your shot. An inattention to details like that could reflect badly on the candidate. During his production process, Belling showed his video to multiple people and would tweak and tighten based on feedback.

Assume that only one person will see it

"You need to assume this is going to get passed around," Dobroski said. If you're not comfortable with your resume being widely viewed, or showing up on YouTube, rethink your approach -- rapping your educational history might get your resume forwarded for all the wrong reasons."

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