Some of the country’s top business schools are requiring potential students to be camera ready.
In an effort to virtually meet and select the best candidates, the MBA programs at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, Yale School of Management, and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management have added mandatory video essays to their applications.
According to Kellogg’s website: “Student culture is hugely important at Kellogg. So we want to meet everyone. EVERYONE. We use the video essays as additional information to the application. … It gives us a sense of your personality and allows us to get to know you in a more personal way than we can through your essays.”
Job candidates might consider duplicating this approach, says Tom Gimbel, CEO of LaSalle Network, a Chicago-based recruiting firm. “Job seekers need to get creative and set themselves apart from the masses applying for the same positions,” he says. “A video with your resume is uncommon enough that, if done effectively, it can get you an interview.”
A video sent with an application shouldn’t rehash your resume; it should differentiate you from other job candidates with similar credentials, says Jennifer Santoro, chief happiness officer (yes, that’s her real title) of the online technology provider InVidz. “You are pitching yourself and asking someone to invest in you,” she says. “Think about what they care about, and talk about those things.”
If you’d like to test the impact of including a video in your job search, Gimbel and Santoro offer these 10 tips:
Videos are most appropriate in certain industries, says Gimbel. Before you hit “record,” consider if your future employer will find a video to be helpful or an unwelcome distraction.
“If you’re looking for a job at a bank in an operational role, it might not go over well,” he says. “But if you’re going into a more creative field, like marketing, media, sales, or communications, it could serve you well.”
Create a video that represents who you are and doesn’t turn you into a character, says Gimbel. “Simply explain why someone should hire you,” he says. “Nobody’s looking for Steven Spielberg here.”
The best videos to watch are the ones done by people who are comfortable in their own skin, adds Santoro. “Talk about why you believe you’re a match for the organization and for this job in particular,” she suggests. “What sets you a part as an individual? Why should someone take time out of their busy schedule to interview you?”
HR professionals don’t have a lot of time to spend watching video applications, says Gimbel. Keep your video to 60 seconds or less. “It should be a paragraph or two: Brief, clever, and crisp,” he says.
You’d be surprised what you can put together with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop these days, says Santoro. “The camera quality of the latest iPhones is very impressive, so odds are you already have a camera you can use,” she says.
Whatever equipment you choose, Gimbel says to make sure you know how to use it: “Video resumes can demonstrate a candidate’s comfort level with technology,” he says. “If your file doesn’t open or if it crashes the recipient’s connection, it can put you in a bad light.”
It can make or break a video, says Santoro. “Always have the light face you, and never have the light behind you, which will create distracting shadows,” she says. “You can easily use household lamps; put them in front of you out of the camera’s visual frame.”
Record a short video as a test and double check that you like how you look in the lighting.
Be intentional about your visual frame and keep it simple, says Santoro. “Talking in front of an empty wall ensures that you will be the main focus of the video,” she says.
Good sound quality is the most important part of your video, says Santoro. If you don’t have an external microphone, shoot in a quiet location.
“Noises in the background will distract your future employer and keep them from paying attention to what you’re saying,” she says. “And if the camera is too far away, your voice can sound in the distance.”
When choosing your video application attire, consider the organization’s culture and style, says Santoro.
“How does that translate in clothing?” she asks. “The clothes we wear are actually a form of non-verbal communication. As a rule of thumb, pastels show the best on camera, so try to stay in that range of color.”
If you are new to being on camera, you may feel nervous and unknowingly try to rush to finish; this is normal, says Santoro. “Just relax, take a deep breath, and realize it may take a few takes to get it right,” she says. “Keep testing until it feels, looks, and sounds right.”
Once you finish your video, ask a couple of trusted friends or colleagues to review it and provide their honest opinion. “Get feedback about the technical aspects such as video and audio quality,” says Santoro. “But also ask about your message, tone, and enthusiasm. Do they think your performance will get you the job?”