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A Guide to Video Resumes for Employers

Most recruiters know to expect hundreds of applications for open positions. While seeing that your employer brand is attracting applicants is a great feeling, it can make narrowing it down to the right candidates for a position more challenging.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative to reading hundreds of pages of resumes and cover letters: the video resume. Find out if this resume format might be a good fit for your hiring process.

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What is a video resume?

A video resume is a short video that summarizes an applicant’s qualifications for a particular role. The new format is so popular that many applicants are posting video resumes right to their social media profiles. For example, it’s possible for an applicant to create a “TikTok resume” and send the link to recruiters.

Benefits of video resumes

Less reading

If you’re having trouble working through the pile of applications in your inbox, video resumes make a lot of sense. You can watch a short video instead of reading a two-page resume and a one-page cover letter. Therefore, requiring video resumes may give you more control over the hiring process, reducing the amount of time it takes to fill each job opening.

Related: How to Read an Applicant Resume: Resume Review Tips

More opportunities to assess creativity

Another benefit of video resumes is that they give candidates the freedom to be creative. If you’re hiring graphic designers, video editors, copywriters or other creative professionals, this is a great way to determine if an applicant has the ability to “think outside the box.”

The video resume is like a blank canvas. Unless you tell applicants exactly what to include, they can be as creative as they’d like. For example, someone applying for a job as an illustrator might choose to show off their previous work or even sit down in front of the camera and walk you through their design process as they complete a quick drawing. This tells you much more about a candidate than a written resume ever could.

Improved ability to assess job-related skills

Just because someone lists public speaking or training on their resume doesn’t mean they’re skilled in those areas. With a traditional resume, you don’t find out about skill gaps until you’ve already spent time interviewing candidates and administering pre-employment assessments. Depending on how long it normally takes to fill an opening, this can set you back by several weeks or even months.

Video resumes eliminate this problem but only for certain jobs. After all, you can’t expect a certified nursing assistant to record themselves caring for a patient. This typically works best when you’re looking for someone with at least one of these skills:

  • Public speaking
  • Training/teaching
  • Customer service
  • Typing

Here’s an example:

Assume you want to hire an executive assistant for a manufacturing company. One of the most important aspects of the job is preparing reports and responding to emails on behalf of the executive. If you ask candidates to include a 30-second clip that shows them typing on a standard keyboard, you can quickly assess if each person’s typing speed is suitable for the job.

Confirmation of technical skills

Recording a video resume isn’t difficult, but it does require some basic familiarity with computers and/or mobile devices. Each applicant must also be able to follow detailed instructions regarding video length and format. This may not help you find your next Python programmer, but it can help you screen out candidates who don’t have the basic technology skills required for the role.

Potential pitfalls of video resumes

Unconscious bias

Although video resumes have plenty of benefits for employers, there are also some potential pitfalls. One of the biggest drawbacks is that you may end up screening out a quality applicant due to unconscious bias, which is the social stereotypes we all have about other people. You’re not even aware you have these beliefs, which is why this type of bias is labeled unconscious instead of conscious.

Unconscious bias hurts applicants when it causes you to reject them based on things that aren’t job related. For example, if you’re hiring for a job in the tech industry, you may reject an older applicant due to the preconceived, and potentially false, notions you have about older people and technology.

Additionally, not everyone will have access to the tools and software required to make a video resume, so you may be unintentionally discouraging otherwise qualified candidates from applying.

Related: Beating Unemployment Bias: How to Build Awareness and Empathy

Lack of ability to assess certain skills

Video resumes make it easier to assess some skills, but they make it more difficult to assess others. For example, if you’re trying to fill a content specialist position, you really need to be able to assess each applicant’s writing skills before you invite them to an interview. A video resume doesn’t give you the opportunity to do that, so it’s likely not the right tool for every situation.

Technical issues

If you’re committed to using video resumes as part of your hiring process, you need the right tools to open and play each file. Therefore, you may need to invest in training HR professionals and hiring managers to use several video players. If you’re working with outdated equipment, you may also need to do some upgrades before you start asking applicants to submit video resumes instead of sending in traditional written resumes.

Depending on how many openings you have each year, you may also need to hire an additional IT person to handle requests for technical support. If you don’t have the budget for another employee, you may need to ask one of your current IT professionals if they can take on extra duties. Therefore, switching to video resumes may be a bit of a burden for small companies.

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