With the job landscape shifting more in just a couple of years than it has in the last couple of decades, it’s no question that finding work has gotten tougher. If you’ve sent out dozens of resumes with no response, you can relate.
Don’t miss out on a great way to get ahead of all those other candidates and beef up your resume. Here’s how technology will change the future of work (or at least the future of your job search): Video resumes.
As businesses adapt to the new way in which work is done, so must the way you frame your skills and expertise. Video is a flexible, powerful, and durable way to keep up—with little effort.
As someone who’s spent more than 11 years in recruiting, I can tell you that recruiters will love you for sending videos. And that, in turn, will mean more callbacks.
To understand just how powerful video resumes are, consider how far we’ve come from the days when you showed up in formal attire to drop off a paper CV. The work world is now mostly hybrid or remote. Zoom is used for everything from team outings to themed office parties, and employees are more geographically dispersed than ever before.
The way you convey yourself needs a similar technology-powered refresh. Nothing comes closer to showing up in person than sending a video resume where you show, not tell, what a wonderful candidate you’d be.
Video is easier than you think, and it’s also more effective than you’d believe. In this guide, we’ll cover everything from how to write a video resume script to how to make a video resume that stands out.
- 1. What is a Video Resume?
- 2. Using a Video Resume to Stand Out
- 2.1 See it in Action: Video Resume Example
- 3. The Benefits of a Video Resume
- 4. How to Make a Video Resume
- 4.1 #1: Write a Video Resume Script
- 4.2 #2: Pick a Recording Device
- 4.3 #3: Get the Right Setup for Your Video Resume
- 4.4 #4: Record Several Takes
- 4.5 #5: Give the Video Resume One Last Watch before Sending
- 4.6 #6: Send Your Video Resume
- 5. Video Resume Recording Tips
- 5.1 7 Tips for Recording Video Applications
- 5.1.1 #1: Bring your camera up to eye level
- 5.1.2 #2: Record in natural light
- 5.1.3 #3: Record with a plug-in microphone
- 5.1.4 #4: Use props
- 5.1.5 #5: Watch yourself on camera and reduce filler words
- 5.1.6 #6: Select an intriguing thumbnail
- 5.1.7 #7: Do what feels right
- 6. Five More Types of Application Video
- 6.1 Send Follow-Up Video After an Interview
- 6.2 Post an “About Me” Video to LinkedIn
- 6.3 Send Video Reactions and Responses
- 6.4 Create Mini “Case Study” Videos About Past Work
- 6.5 Send Video Introductions for Others
- 7. How to Get Started With Video Resumes
What is a Video Resume?
A video resume (or video cover letter) is just what it sounds like—you apply to a job with a link to a video where you talk through what you’d otherwise write.
While you might be tempted to swap out your entire CV with a video resume, a CNBC report—and our own video experts—recommend that you use video as a complement to your resume, not a replacement.
Tyler LessardVidyardChief Video Strategiest
The purpose of the video is not just to say what’s already on your resume, so don’t just use it as a way to walk through your past experience and education. It’s important that these aren’t too long. As much as you might draw someone in, they’re usually not going to spend any more than one to two minutes watching a video, even for a very interesting candidate.
Using a Video Resume to Stand Out
Whereas a text cover letter leaves much to the imagination, a video cover letter communicates your winning personality through multiple media. It combines visuals, audio, and text (via captions) all at once—a higher information throughput, if you will, despite the fact that watching takes less effort than reading.
Video resumes are also what salespeople call a “pattern break,” where you catch people’s attention by being different. In this case, it’ll help your resume leap out of the pile. Just imagine being a recruiter. If you’re sifting through dozens of long, monotonous, third-person cover letters and you come across a video, that candidate will stick in your mind.
There are more reasons why video resumes are so effective. Over the past decade, the interview process has evolved into something like a talent show, and interviewers expect to see a holistic version of a candidate. If the candidate is as good as they say they are, companies want to see.
For a salesperson, that could be running through a mock sales call. As a marketer, it could mean rewriting a case study. For a developer, it could be drawing out a database architecture. Video gives you a chance to show what you know and demonstrate that you’re the kind of person the company would love to have around.
See it in Action: Video Resume Example
Just consider the video resume below. The Vidyard team received this from a candidate who lives on a farm. He used his chickens and chicken coop to explain why he’d be a great solutions consultant.
The Benefits of a Video Resume
Making a video resume can seem like a lot of work, especially if you’re planning to customize it for every job application you submit. But the benefits are well worth the effort:
- Stand out and be memorable
- Show, don’t tell, how you’re a great fit
- Make a connection with the recruiter
- Use video to get a job with less searching
- It’s free
- Did I mention it’s free?
How to Make a Video Resume
Making your own video resume is actually pretty simple. As long as you have a webcam, a microphone, and the will to make an impression, a great video resume is only a few minutes of recording away.
Here’s a quick overview of the most important steps:
- Write a video resume script
- Pick your recording device
- Arrange the right recording setup
- Record a few takes so you can pick the best
- Watch your video resume before sending it to make sure it hits the right notes
- Send and sit back!
We’ll cover each step in more detail below.
#1: Write a Video Resume Script
Writing out bullet points should be plenty—the idea is simply to organize your thoughts before recording. When writing your script, use the guidelines below as a video resume template:
- Keep the introduction short: 45 seconds is enough.
- Keep the entire video short: Anything over two minutes and you’ll begin to lose people’s attention.
- Begin with why you’d be a great candidate: What should a video resume say? Mostly, things that make you stand out. You’ll do a better job of hooking recruiters’ interest if you can show that you’ve researched the company and understand its needs well enough to explain it back to them.
- Share why you’d be excited to work for the company: Recruiters want to know that your heart is in it. If you can’t give a clear reason, it’ll seem like you aren’t excited about the role.
- Whenever possible, show rather than tell: Saying you’re a good collaborator gets the point across. But telling a story about how coworkers appreciated your collaboration on a project is far more effective, and gives recruiters more reasons to tell the hiring manager about you.
Bonus Tip: Before recording, check how long your video resume scripts are with Vidyard’s script timer tool.
#2: Pick a Recording Device
Your laptop and your smartphone will work great for recording most video resumes. (There’s really no need to go purchase new equipment unless you’re determined to have your application come across as highly produced. In this case, a DSLR and a lavalier microphone can help.)
There are many ways to record your video, but you may want a video hosting tool (like Vidyard). Video files can get pretty big and often exceed 25 MB, which is the biggest file you can email. And if you send the file via Dropbox or file storage, you may run into issues where recipients don’t have permission to view it.
A video hosting platform makes it all simple: It lets you record the video, hosts it automatically, and gives you a link to share. When someone clicks the link, they’re taken to a page where they can watch.
#3: Get the Right Setup for Your Video Resume
When it comes to your recording setup, it’s best to face a source of natural light such as a window. For audio, try to record somewhere as quiet as possible. Use headphones if you have them, a plug-in microphone if not.
#4: Record Several Takes
Once recording, introduce yourself, talk about what the business is looking for, and explain why you’re a great candidate. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve done more than just read their recruiting page; talk about the impact you can have on the business. Always end your videos with a clear call to action—the thing you hope the recruiter will do after watching your video resume.
Record as many takes as you like and delete the rest. If you feel a little awkward on camera, that’s normal—just remember, recording to your computer is free, and you can do as many as 10 or 15 takes if that feels good.
#5: Give the Video Resume One Last Watch before Sending
Did you capture everything you meant to? Do you come across as personable? You may consider getting a friend’s feedback, as we often look and sound strange to ourselves on camera.
But when in doubt, send it. Better to have something out there and a shot at the role than to wait so long you miss it!
#6: Send Your Video Resume
There are several ways to share the video. If you’re using a free video hosting platform like Vidyard, you can include the link in your resume or cover letter, or send it in an email.
Video Resume Recording Tips
Below are some tips for how to make a video resume and maximize its impact. That said, this is not a checklist! What matters more than anything is the fact that you’re using video. That alone will help you stand out.
Nailing some of the more advanced pieces below can help, but don’t let perfect be the enemy of good—better to get something out so you don’t miss out on the application window.
7 Tips for Recording Video Applications
#1: Bring your camera up to eye level
Look directly into the camera. (Too high or too low and you won’t look like yourself. Who wants to show a recruiter a double chin?) If you’ve got a tripod, use it; if you don’t, stack books or boxes to give your camera something to sit on.
#2: Record in natural light
Natural light beats artificial light. The best place you can record is indoors facing a window. The next best is facing artificial light, but with light diffusers (those umbrellas you see on photoshoots) so the light isn’t too harsh, and doesn’t cast strange shadows.
#3: Record with a plug-in microphone
As anyone who spends a lot of time doing Zoom interviews knows, poor-quality audio is a lot more annoying than poor-quality video. If someone’s video freezes, the conversation can continue. But if the audio is incomprehensible? It’s over. For the best audio, use either a lavalier microphone that clips to your clothing or a plug-in microphone of the sort that you’d use for recording a podcast.
#4: Use props
The video doesn’t have to be just you talking at the camera. Use a whiteboard to draw a diagram, use your laptop to present, or, if you have access to the company’s products (a t-shirt, hat, phone, plant, etc.), hold it up and show you’re already a fan.
#5: Watch yourself on camera and reduce filler words
Everyone has a preferred filler word. Mine is “like.” Yours may be “um.” Practice until you can eliminate it and you’ll be better understood.
#6: Select an intriguing thumbnail
If the default thumbnail (the image that shows before your video plays) is you sneezing, switch it up. Attention-grabbing thumbnails, like you waving at the camera, tend to earn more clicks. (Just make sure to sit a bit off-center while waving so the Play button doesn’t cover your face.)
#7: Do what feels right
High-quality productions are great. But at the same time, social media has conditioned most of us to be pretty darn fine with shaky, hand-held videos. Feel free to break all the above rules if it helps you be more yourself.
For instance, one job seeker, Jonathan Mahan, recorded a video just walking outside. It’s a brilliant example of being your true and authentic self. (No green screen needed!)
Five More Types of Application Video
Video is a versatile tool. Once you’re comfortable with it, you can start to apply it everywhere throughout the hiring process. It is, after all, a way to increase the odds that you stand out and hear back. Why not use it at every touchpoint?
Here are a few other video formats you can try:
Send Follow-Up Video After an Interview
Thank interviewers with a video where you reiterate your and their top points. This is your opportunity to show that you were listening, and demonstrate you left the interview even more enthused about the role. (Assuming you are in fact enthused about the role!)
Post an “About Me” Video to LinkedIn
Record a general video about yourself, your experience, and your aspirations, and post it to your LinkedIn profile and similar talent sites. This helps you increase the chances that you’ll stand out to recruiters searching for you. To ensure people find it, add something like “Watch my video 👋” to your LinkedIn headline.
Send Video Reactions and Responses
If hiring managers or recruiters have unresolved concerns or questions, send video responses. For instance, if they ask after a call for you to follow up with more information, address their concerns head-on with a video where you acknowledge and respond to their concern.
Create Mini “Case Study” Videos About Past Work
If you left your last company on good terms, ask for their help creating a mini “case study” for what you accomplished there. You can stitch several clips together—one of you introducing yourself, then one of your former boss talking about how effective you were. See examples of case studies for a tried-and-true format.
Send Video Introductions for Others
Right now, job-seeking is a team sport. Plenty of people are out there looking. If you come across a role that’s not a fit for you but would be a fit for someone you know, send a video message to the recruiter telling them to have a look at your friend. Recruiters are on quotas—they’ll be grateful for the help, and so will your friend.
How to Get Started With Video Resumes
The good news is that you don’t really need that much. If you buy into the idea that recruiters are busy people who have trouble telling all the cover letters they receive apart, then you buy into the idea that video helps you get found and earn responses. It’s a great way to show your personality, and it allows you to make a quick connection and get your foot in the door, even with many other candidates ahead of you.
But you know what else you can do? Share this article! It’s a tough job market out there, and we’re all in it together. If you can use video to get a job, others can too.
This post was originally published on November 5, 2020. It was updated on July 7, 2022.