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This is when you should use a video résumé (and how to do it well)

A video résumés isn’t appropriate for every role. But for some, it can just be a great tool to help you stand out (in a good way).

This is when you should use a video résumé (and how to do it well)
[Photo: Seth Doyle/Unsplash]

When it comes to job-hunting, video résumés are a tricky topic.

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A great video résumé can inject some personal flair into your job application, highlight important skills, and demand the hiring manager’s attention.

However, depending on the job you’re applying to, they can also be unorthodox or inappropriate. Not only that, but a poorly executed video résumé can torpedo your chances of landing an interview faster than you can say “lights, camera, action.”

So when is the right time to use a video résumé? And how do you make one that demonstrates the skills you’d normally put on a résumé without coming across as tacky or unprofessional?

First, it’s important to ask yourself whether a video résumé is the right choice for you.

Should you use a video résumé?

A video résumé isn’t for everyone. For example, if you’re applying to jobs as a backend engineer or accountant, using a video résumé probably isn’t a good idea.

That said, video résumés are highly effective at highlighting certain skills and strengths that standard written résumés can’t fully convey.

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For instance, a video résumé can be valuable if you’re applying to any job where the ability to perform is important—whether it be acting, giving presentations, or teaching. This especially applies to jobs in creative fields, as well as any position that requires you to leverage your interpersonal skills or speak publicly.

Another benefit of using a video résumé is that it conveys your personality in a way that no written résumé can. This gives you an advantage if you’re applying to jobs where excellent communication skills or adept interpersonal skills are necessary, such as in sales.

There are a few key ingredients that separate a great video résumé from a mediocre (or worse, embarrassing) one. Here’s what you need to know to make sure your video résumé stands out:

1. Tell a story

The biggest mistake you can make with a video résumé is to simply read out your qualifications. A video résumé gives you the opportunity to contextualize your work experience so that it resonates and sticks with recruiters in a unique way.

So take advantage of this opportunity, and use your video résumé to tell a convincing narrative about yourself, rather than just recite your traditional résumé.

Explain how the job you’re applying for fits into your career and ambitions, as well as why you’re excited about the opportunity. Your goal is to give the hiring manager a picture of who you are and why you, personally, would be perfect for the job.

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2. Tailor it to the employer

Not every company will have the same level of formality, work culture, and expectations. Likewise, not every position you apply to will have the same qualifications and required skills.

Your video résumé should reflect these differences and address them specifically.

That’s why tailoring your résumé to the company you want to work at is one of the most important steps to make sure your application stands out and resonates with the hiring manager.

To accomplish this, scan the job posting, and note any specific skills and qualities that are emphasized. Then, mention these skills in your video résumé.

The result? Not only will your video résumé be eye-catching, but it will also demonstrate to the hiring manager that you’re a perfect fit.

3. Be brief

With so many résumés to review, hiring managers typically spend under a minute looking at each one—and your video résumé is no exception.

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Ultimately, that means your video résumé should be immediately engaging and no longer than 90 seconds. Any longer and you risk testing the hiring manager’s patience.

This should give you enough time to touch on your most relevant qualifications, without wasting anyone’s time with fluff and unnecessary flourishes.

4. Make it professional

While it might save you some money on production costs, a video of you talking to potential employers from the webcam in your bedroom won’t impress anybody.

It sounds obvious, but your video résumé should appear professional. The hiring manager must be able to easily hear and see you, so that they ultimately come away with a positive impression.

That means making sure the background of the video is minimalist and clean looking, that there are no distracting noises muffling the audio, the video quality is decent, and that you’re at least wearing business casual attire.

Fortunately, these days plenty of phone cameras can record professional-quality videos on even the tightest budget. With some effort, a high-quality video résumé is not only affordable but easy to make as well.

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A well-produced video résumé can be a great way to grab an employer’s attention and make a lasting impression. With these tried-and-true tips, you’ll be on your way to producing a video résumé that helps you put your best foot forward and stand out from the competition.

But a video résumé can still be a difficult thing to get right. So after making yours, show it to your family, friends, and coworkers, and ask for their feedback. Their suggestions could improve your final application, and help you avoid a potential misstep.


This article originally appeared on Glassdoor and is reprinted with permission. 

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