A video resume is an especially good addition to your job application materials if you’ve been applying to a lot of jobs, but haven’t landed an interview. It’s a quick and easy way to stand out in a stack of boring resumes. It shows a glimpse of who you are, and it gives you a chance to show your poise and professionalism.
If you’re one of those people who know that if you can just land the interview, you’ll get the job, then a video resume is a great way to introduce yourself to a potential employer. Here’s what you need to know about video resumes:
1. It’s Not a Live Reading of Your Resume
When I say “video resume,” a lot of our clients think I mean that they should turn on their webcam and read their resume to the camera. That’s boring, and it’s not going to get you interviews.
Think of your video resume as an introduction of your skills and experience to an employer. You’re also trying to show that you have personality and poise—you’re not just a name on a piece of paper. You’re the best person for the job, and they’d be fools not to hire you.
2. Good Video Resumes are Very Short
Your video resume should be no more than three minutes. In fact, that’s a bit long. Keep it short and to the point. You need a script, but you don’t want to look like you’re reading it on camera. You want to seem like you’re speaking directly to your potential employer.
3. You Need a Good Camera
Good, HD-quality cameras are everywhere these days. Anyone can buy a GoPro, and our iPhones take fantastic videos. For example, check out this video of my kid’s lion mosaic I shot with an iPhone 8 in my back yard:
In broad daylight, your cell phone’s camera is a great choice. For best results, shoot early in the morning (before 10 AM) or an hour before sunset. The lighting is naturally flattering, and you won’t be squinting against the sunlight.
4. Get a Friend to Help You
A video resume is not the time to show off your selfie skills. Instead, have a friend help you run your camera. They can hit record and stop in the right places, and signal when you should start speaking. Plus, having a friend there gives you someone to look at as you’re speaking so you look more natural on camera.
A good friend will also help you adjust your script to sound as natural and professional as possible. Good friends who will tell you the truth are one of your strongest assets.
5. Use a Tripod or a Stable Surface
Even with a friend’s help, you still need a stable surface to set your camera on while you record, otherwise your video will turn out bumpy and shaky. You don’t want to distract your audience with a shaky camera.
Ideally, you need a tripod. Luckily, they aren’t as expensive as they used to be, and you can get them anywhere, from Amazon to Target. If you’re recording with your iPhone, you will need a tripod mount. Most GoPro kits come with one included in the box.
6. Your Sound Quality is Very Important
Your beautiful, HD video isn’t worth the memory space it’s written on if your sound quality sucks. Many career gurus say you should invest in a professional microphone for a video resume, but it’s not necessary. As long as you are close to your iPhone or GoPro when you speak, and you limit background noise, you can shoot a professional-looking video without a fancy microphone.
To make sure your video sounds crisp, clear, and professional, don’t shoot your video outside when it’s windy. Your hair may look amazing, but all you’ll be able to hear is the wind.
Make sure noises like barking dogs and traffic aren’t audible on your video, too. Always listen to your recording as soon as you make it so you can make adjustments as necessary.
7. Choose Your Background (or Shoot Location) Wisely
Your background is important. You have to have balanced lighting, which is why an outdoor location is a solid choice. But, if you have a lovely home office, with your fancy degree and awards hanging strategically on the wall behind your office chair, you have the perfect background.
If you choose an indoor location, make sure you have good lighting. You can always reposition lamps or shoot your video sitting next to a window.
You might also think of an industry-specific place for your video shoot. For example, if you’re applying to be a lifeguard, shoot your video resume at the beach or beside a pool. If you’re applying to be a Web developer, position your computer in the background. Get creative!
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8. Dress Professionally, but not in all Black
This should go without saying, but every time I think everyone should know to dress professionally when on camera with a potential employer, I end up in a Skype interview with a candidate dressed in a ratty T-shirt and disheveled hair. So, I’m saying it: Dress professionally for your video resume.
Black is not the best color on camera. It usually makes you look like you’re heading to a funeral or hanging out with the mob. If you must stick to a dark color, go with navy or charcoal grey—and don’t forget a pop of color, like a blue scarf or a pink camisole.
Dress as if you were headed for an interview. You want to look polished. Make the time to look your best—you won’t regret it!
9. Just Like Your Paper Resume, You Need More than One
If you’re becoming an expert at job searches (and we hope by now you are), you are applying for several different kinds of jobs within your chosen industry or career field. For example, as an instructional designer, Jarell and I pick up instructional design jobs, but we also look at web development gigs with an education focus, educational writing gigs, retention and student success consulting gigs, teacher training gigs—anything related to educational support. Obviously, the same video resume wouldn’t work for all of those types of jobs. That’s why you need more than one.
Think about your different audiences when you’re writing your video resume scripts, and write a different script for each audience. Most people should have 3-5 different video resumes.
10. Video Resumes Aren’t for Every Industry
Of course, video resumes aren’t for every industry. If you’re applying to be a police officer or a fireman, a video resume probably won’t help you as much as if you’re applying to be a journalist or consultant. If you’re an entrepreneur, a video resume can do wonders for attracting clients. Use your best judgment, and if you find yourself in a situation where you’re not getting any bites on your job application materials, it never hurts to try a video resume.
Example Video Resumes
- Shelly in Marketing
- Sajita in Communications and Marketing
- Aira in Motion Graphic Design – She never says a word, but makes a powerful statement
What to Say in a Video Resume – Our Free Guide!
If you’re ready to make a video resume, the first thing you should do is draft a script. To make it easy for you, we’ve drafted a What to Say in a Video Resume guide that includes examples and a “mad libs” like template for writing your script! Fill out the form below to download your free copy.