6 Tips For Crafting A Video Resume That Gets Interviews

With the U-6 unemployment rate currently above 13%, there are millions of Americans competing for the same jobs. That means it’s still an incredible challenge to get noticed by recruiters who are looking through hundreds of resumes a day. I recently started a job search, and I didn’t like what was happening. For starters, I had no network in California, where I was targeting tech companies. And, despite feeling qualified for jobs, I wasn’t getting requests for interviews. I kept thinking, “If only I had the chance to show them that I can do this!” This led me to create a video resume. Think about it: statistics say recruiters look at a resume for mere seconds before making a decision to keep it or not. What if you can get the same recruiter to watch a 60-second commercial selling you for the job? You just received 10x more exposure than others. I decided to target Dropbox for a content creation position. I made a humorous video and set up a personal website at So far, my campaign has received great feedback, so I thought I’d share with the community at CAREEREALISM some tips on how I did it.

1. Keep Production Values Extremely High

Because TV and movies are so significant in our culture, people are used to the highest production values possible. Jittery footage, bad lighting, and poor editing will sabotage your video from standing out, even if the content is excellent. But the biggest struggle for most people is sound. For example, in a well-lit scene, even an iPhone’s video quality is good enough. But it's the sound that will make you look like an amateur. You need to use a professional microphone and not the microphones that are built into a phone or camcorder. See if you can borrow one from your church, a DJ, or your weird uncle who always has that kind of thing. It makes a huge difference.

2. Keep It Short

The video resume will never be a replacement for a paper resume, but it has the capabilities to show some intangibles your paper resume can’t—like confidence, grooming/professionalism, and presentation skills. I don’t think any hiring managers are initially going to watch a 5-minute overview of your career. So, your job is to highlight only your very best accomplishments related to the job while showcasing these qualities. I’d shoot for 60 seconds and definitely avoid going over 90 seconds. (In my case, I went a little long because the first 1:30 was essentially a commercial, but my talking to a camera was only about 45 seconds.)

3. Enhance Your Resume Rather Than Duplicate It

They say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Why? Because it’s far easier to show something than describe it. If you’re an event planner, maybe you could show different aspects of your planning process: a spreadsheet, setup at the venue, registration, people mingling by refreshments, a speaker on stage with people listening, and so on. Let the hiring staff understand exactly how capable you are. Recruiters want to hire someone who has already demonstrated the ability to succeed at the job, and a video resume is a fantastic opportunity to prove it.

4. Ask For Help

Believe it or not, there are some nice people in the world who want to help you. I asked a friend to help me film since I was in the video. If a certain location will help your video, like a grocery store or an office building, talk to the manager. You’ll be surprised how often they want to help, and the worst they can say is, “No.” I guarantee that many people will want to help you find a job that you love.

5. Remember Your Purpose

A video resume has one purpose: to help you get an interview. Make sure you’re comfortable in front of a camera first, and use only enough content to whet their appetite. Ask yourself if a video resume will actually help you land an interview for that position. For example, they work great for creative or sales positions where you can easily showcase your work or personality. If you’re a software programmer, it’s probably more worthwhile to spend the time learning a new programming language or building an application that you can show recruiters instead.

6. Give Recruiters The “Next Step"

What do you want recruiters to do after watching? In my case, I wanted them to visit a website I developed tailored for the position, so that was the only information I put at the end of the video. Maybe you want them to send you an e-mail, download a resume, view a web portfolio, or call you. OK, then only put that information. Just make it very clear exactly what one step they should take if they are interested in you. So, if you are unsatisfied with your progress so far in landing a dream job, maybe it’s time to change tactics. A creative video resume may be just what you need to get noticed. Good luck!

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