Kayla Heisler
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Though still a fairly uncommon requirement, some companies are making submitting a video resume a requirement. In today’s highly digital world, more employees and employers are taking advantage of technology when it comes to the job application process. You should include a video resume when it’s asked for as a required part of an application, want to highlight a visual aspect or demonstrate your charisma. 

If you're a dance teacher, you may want to include clips of yourself working with students. If you are applying for a job in sales, letting a potential employer see your presentation skills can set you apart from other applicants. Applying for a job that's related to film or editing is yet another opportunity to add a video resume to your application.

So, what is a video resume?

A video resume is a brief video that job candidates can use to supplement their job application. It’s important to keep in mind that unless an employer specifies otherwise, video resumes should not be submitted in place of a traditional resume. Video resumes are a tool you can use to let employers hear your communication skills. Including one is a great way to stand out from other applicants and demonstrate your creativity in a professional manner, when done well.

What should be in a video resume, and how can I make mine stand out?

Adding a video component can boost your odds of landing a job if it’s done well. Make your video resume the best it can be by following these tips and tricks:

1. Make a plan.

Write down exactly how you want your video to go. Write a script of what you will say, and include any additional footage that you will include. Know what your goals are before you start filming. Your objective should be apparent to anyone who watches the video.

2. Show your best self on camera.

Dress as you would for an interview. Make sure that your setting is clean and organized. You don’t want a disorganized desk in the background or a disheveled appearance to take away from the skills that you’re conveying.

3. Check the frame and sound.

Make sure that the angles you're using work for you and that everything is coming across clearly. Look at your footage to make sure that the images are coming across well on screen, that you’re heard easily, and that there are no distracting background noises present.

4. Make sure it’s edited properly.

This shouldn’t be your first video editing project. Make a few test edits using software until you’re comfortable or hire someone who has expertise in the field to give you a hand. There are a number of free editing software options available, but make sure to spend time watching tutorials and familiarizing yourself until you are comfortable.

Video resume dos and don’ts

Do:

  • Invest in good lighting.

Having a shadowy or poorly lit video can distract from what you’re saying and make the video come across as unprofessional. Making sure that you’re easily seen can be a major factor between making you appear to have your act together and looking rushed. Using professional tools and researching lighting techniques can make your video stand apart from those that are quickly put together.

  • Make sure you have high quality sound.

Don’t leave your potential employers struggling to hear what you're saying. As with lighting, having high quality sound will show that you put effort into creating the best product possible and will do the same for their team. 

  • Show your video to others first.

You should never submit a traditional resume without having at least one additional person look it over, and the same is true for having someone else view your video resume. Hearing what others have to say can give you a major insight into the problems present with your video resume. Soliciting friends and family for their opinions can save you a major wave of embarrassment later. 

  • Memorize a script.

Reading from a piece of paper won’t allow your personality to shine through, and making up lines on the spot can make you seem disorganized. Committing a set of talking points to memory before you turn the camera on will make for the best end product. Plan your script carefully, and make sure that it highlights your best qualities. 

  • Show your personality.

Avoid being too stiff on camera. While you want to maintain a professional tone, one of the benefits of using a video resume is that it allows you to show your creativity.

Don’t:

  • Rush through the project.

Adding a video resume to an application shouldn’t be a last minute decision. Take time to ensure that all aspects of the video have been thoughtfully planned out and executed well.

  • Use low quality products.

Rent or borrow a camera that will create a strong image. Having an unclear video can hurt your case more than it will help it.

  • Read your written resume out loud.

Going through the details of your regular resume is a waste of time for yourself and your potential employer. If applicable, you may choose to demonstrate the skills that you mention in your resume, but reading your resume word-for-word on camera is a boring addition that won’t help your cause.

  • Appear robotic.

Similar to not reading your resume, you also should avoid reciting a script in a tone that doesn’t feel natural to you. Because one of the benefits to submitting a visual resume is to give prospective employers the ability to see how you communicate before the interview, coming across as stiff will hurt your chances. Be mindful of your body language throughout the video to avoid appearing nervous on camera.

  • Make your video too long.

Employers are unlikely to read through every single word of a written resume, and if a video resume is too long, chances are all of it won’t be seen. A video resume should take no more than 90 seconds; creating anything much longer will likely be a waste of time. Strive for quality over length to best increase a favorable outcome.

Having many tools at your disposal can make your next job search a successful one. The process of creating a video resume can be a lengthy one, but it can be well worth it.

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Kayla Heisler is an essayist and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. She is an MFA candidate at Columbia University, and her work appears in New York's Best Emerging Poets 2017 anthology.