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Ask the Headhunter: Trying to stand out? Video resumes are not the answer

Nick Corcodilos started headhunting in Silicon Valley in 1979 and has answered over 30,000 questions from the Ask The Headhunter community over the past decade.

In this special Making Sen$e edition of Ask The Headhunter, Nick shares insider advice and contrarian methods about winning and keeping the right job, on one condition: that you, dear Making Sense reader, send Nick your questions about your personal challenges with job hunting, interviewing, networking, resumes, job boards or salary negotiations. No guarantees — just a promise to do his best to offer useful advice.


Question: Resumes are a static way to apply for a job. An employer can’t see who you really are when you use a resume to present yourself. Besides, we all know that HR people don’t really read resumes carefully. This dilemma is as old as time. So what is the solution?

Have candidates make a video resume, so to speak. Tell a story. Learn about the company you’re considering applying for. Learn about what they are working on, what is newsworthy about it, what they are struggling with. What is keeping them up at night? Then take this and codify it in your video resume. You can learn some basic story structure and bring your resume to life. Think of the movie trailers you see before you go to a movie.

HR needs help selecting people. I’m not talking about a two-hour movie. It would be about three minutes of context and background. You can call it the pre-interview — a way to have the company and HR get to know more about you.

READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: Why you can’t win the keyword resume game

Nick Corcodilos: I totally disagree with your suggestion that video resumes are the answer. I’ve written about this before in “HR Pornography: Interview videos.”

In a nutshell, if HR people don’t have adequate time to read resumes, how can you seriously suggest to job hunters that personnel jockeys are going to sit and watch videos for hours?  Gimme a break.

Video resume services are so silly that I saved an infomercial article from a few years ago: William Arruda, “curator” at Personal Branding TV, and Catharine Fennell, CEO of videoBIO, pitch video resumes hard in “The Career-Search Game Changer: Your Video Bio.” (That web page asks you to “sign up” to read the article, but you can just click the X to close the sign-up window and read it anyway.)

“Hiring managers have a hard job,” say Arruda and Fennell. “They must review hundreds of resumes to decide who to interview.”

No kidding. Imagine HR watching dozens, if not hundreds, of videos!

Should you submit a video resume? Even if you believe HR has nothing better to do than flip resume channels all day long, do you really think hiring managers are going to settle in for the afternoon to watch you and 200 other applicants on video?

READ MORE: I lied about my salary to get a job. What if my employer finds out?

Then there are the legal issues. Video resumes create a trail of potential discrimination evidence based on how you look. Has HR gone crazy? They’re in charge of compliance, right? Enough said.

There are many problems with video resumes:

  • HR doesn’t even read resumes. They’re processed by algorithms. I agree that HR needs help, but they’re already so far from studying candidates that expecting them to drop their keywords and their resumes and start watching videos — it’s more unlikely than getting them off their duffs to go recruit in person. (See “Systemic Recruitment Fraud: How employers fund America’s jobs crisis.”)
  • Doing a good video is no small task. Just the technical aspects are daunting. Make a bad video, and it doesn’t matter how well you present yourself. And if a resume can’t defend you, a video is a huge risk.
  • Then there’s the acting. Live interviews are challenging enough. Posing and acting on camera simply isn’t something people do well. This means the viewer has to suss out who that really is — are they acting, are they scripted, is this what they’re really like?
  • You’re trying to get around the massive time required to view video resumes by suggesting they could be three minutes long. I don’t know how much useful information can be communicated in three minutes.
  • Finally, I just don’t buy the idea that a video tells us whether someone is worth meeting. This puts too much on the medium and not enough on the selection process.

Here’s the big problem: HR and managers fail to select candidates from the right pools to begin with — videos are no better than resumes or keyword collection because the employer is choosing from who comes along. Videos don’t deal with that fundamental problem. Good recruiting means going out and targeting highly defined groups of people who — by definition — are worth meeting. That’s the basic issue that 99 percent of recruiters today fail to address.

READ MORE: Ask the Headhunter: Employers, stop trying to hire a superhero

Think about what problem video resumes would really solve. I don’t think companies that sell video resume services are solving the problem of going after the right people to begin with. Like most other methods, this approach merely sifts through what comes in the door. That’s no way to recruit — or find a job.

Dear Readers: Have you ever submitted a video resume? Did it work? Employers: Do you want video resumes sent to you?


Nick Corcodilos invites Making Sense readers to subscribe to his free weekly Ask The Headhunter© Newsletter. His in-depth “how to” PDF books are available on his website: “How to Work With Headhunters…and how to make headhunters work for you,” “Keep Your Salary Under Wraps,” “How Can I Change Careers?” and “Fearless Job Hunting.”

Send your questions to Nick, and join him for discussion every week here on Making Sense. Thanks for participating!

Copyright © 2016 Nick Corcodilos. All rights reserved in all media. Ask the Headhunter® is a registered trademark.

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