Will a Video Résumé Increase Your Chances of Landing a Job?
Twenty-four-year-old Grace Wells has never experienced the often time-consuming process of uploading a résumé to an online job application portal. “I have never used a traditional résumé for my career,” the New York-based video content creator says, “except when I was applying to serving jobs right out of college.”
Instead, Wells landed her first corporate job in 2019 as a video director in New York with a video. Rather than submitting a traditional résumé, Wells decided to make a mock commercial using one of the company’s products, which impressed the organization. To practice her shooting and editing skills, she continued making fake commercials for everyday items—forks, potatoes, paper clips—and posted them to TikTok. Pretty soon her videos went viral, and brands started reaching out to her to make content for them. She left her corporate gig in 2021 after signing a deal with a L.A.-based production company, and now makes videos for brands like Gain, Dawn and Amazon Prime. “At this point, 100 per cent of my clients come from my TikTok channel,” says Wells, who now has 1.7 million followers on the platform.
Wells’s experience using video to land a job may not be the norm, but it’s becoming increasingly common for job applicants to find creative ways to get noticed. More workers, especially younger ones, are finding ways to grab hiring managers’ attention by using video résumés—short clips intended to showcase passion and personality. “It’s an extra piece of marketing material,” says Sweta Regmi, a career consultant based in Sudbury, Ont., adding that some hiring managers only spend seconds or so reading an applicant’s written cover letter. A video résumé can pique curiosity and help candidates stand out.
According to a 2021 LinkedIn survey, nearly 80 per cent of hiring managers believe video has become more important when it comes to interacting with or vetting job candidates, and 60 per cent of job seekers think a recorded video could replace the traditional cover letter. Nearly six in 10 job seekers feel that sharing a video with hiring managers better highlights their personality and improves their odds of getting the job.
Social media platforms have taken note: “CareerTok,” a hashtag on TikTok full of videos on everything from job interview tips to office culture critique, prompted the tech company to pilot “TikTok Resumes” in 2021 to help job seekers get hired via short clips outlining their qualifications and skills. TikTok partnered with companies looking to hire, like Shopify and Alo Yoga, and hundreds of job postings were advertised on the platform. Last year, LinkedIn also introduced the Cover Story feature, which lets users upload a short introduction video on their profile page.
What you should include in a video résumé
While video résumés can be helpful, it’s not always an appropriate medium for every job. Before you create a video résumé you need to understand your audience: the company you’re applying to and the nature of the industry. Public-facing jobs, like PR, media, communications or sales, rely on human-to-human interaction and may be more open to video résumés that demonstrate personality. Toronto-based recruiter and career coach Emily Durham says hiring managers in creative fields such as video production and graphic design will likely also be keen to see passion and skills via video.
Your video résumé should be no longer than 90 seconds, Regmi says. You want to use the short amount of time to show how you’re the most qualified candidate for the job in a concise way. One way of doing so is by focusing on a specific skill or business case you want to highlight that is directly relevant to the role you’re applying for. This may mean introducing yourself and giving an example of your work in a previous position. You can tell a quick story about how you grew an organization’s social media following by 40 per cent by employing a specific strategy you developed, or how you improved a company’s customer service wait time by implementing a new technology. The important thing to remember is not to use a video as a way to simply repeat what’s on your written résumé. It should complement your written application with additional insights, Regmi says.
It’s also crucial to ask yourself whether or not you’re comfortable on camera. Even for job seekers who don’t want to show their faces, they can still make video résumés that use graphics, text and audio to highlight a business case or illustrate a skillset. Regmi gives an example: If you’re gunning for an SEO job, use visuals that illustrate data or metrics and real-world examples, like blog posts, to show how you helped an organization rank on Google. Think of the video like an engaging PowerPoint presentation or sales pitch. “It should be: Here’s what I’ve done and here’s how I can solve the problem,” Regmi says.
While Durham agrees video can supplement formal applications, they are not suitable replacements for written résumés—especially if a job posting has a specific application process with clear instructions. A video alone can’t replace the details, like your education or career history, needed for a hiring team to decide on your application, she explains.
What’s more, video résumés can introduce room for bias, conscious or unconscious, in the interview process—especially if organizations do not have training in place for this new method of application. Some career and HR experts have expressed concern that applicants may be hired based on how they look and talk as opposed to their skills.
Regmi acknowledges that bias exists in hiring, including beauty bias and confirmation bias, but says that it’s up to an employer to ensure hiring managers are equipped to combat that. Job seekers shouldn’t limit their creativity or hold off on using a video résumé if they really want to. “It’s not the problem of the candidate if companies are not training recruiters and hiring managers to self-check,” Regmi says. “Hiring managers should always go back to the job description to see if a candidate is qualified for the role.”