I interview well. On paper I may not look like your tippy-top candidate, what with my unpronounceable name and gutter grades and long list of short jobs. But get me in the room with you, and (in most cases) I’ll have you from hello.
That’s why a video résumé is for me. Or so I thought.
As research for this article I just wrote on the rise of the video résumé, I set out to create my own. When I started reporting, I had assumed there must be a whole cottage industry of videographers, makeup artists and editors making big bucks off this surging new trend. Sure enough, when I Googled it, I came up with dozens of companies offering their services.
But when I started calling, I found most were out of business.
One videographer who advertised video résumé-making services on his website picked up the phone. Eric Wolfram started to laugh as soon as I explained my mission. He put his website up in 2004, he says. Since then, he’s had exactly no calls–that is, except for the five in the past few months, all from journalists wanting to do stories on video résumés.
That was my a-ha moment. A cottage industry had indeed sprung up, some businesses as early as the mid-’90s, eager to exploit this trend. But they’d totally missed the point, just as I had. Video résumés never took off while they were still on VHS. It was only when they found their way online that jobseekers began to try them out and recruiters began to pay attention.
Here’s the upshot: why pay $99 for a membership to some video résumé website when you can upload your three-minute ditty for free on YouTube? For that matter, why pay a pro like Wolfram $500 when your brother can hold your camcorder for the price of a pizza? (For the record, Wolfram gets plenty of work as a professional videographer filming things other than nervous interviewees, thank you very much. And there are many instances in which you ought to consider hiring a pro like him–say, if you’re a public speaker needing an expert-quality reel to promote your business.)
Of the hundreds of online video résumés I came across on YouTube and Jobster, almost all were created by amateur auteurs, most likely the job candidates themselves. Some were awful. As I wrote in the article:
The thing is, not all people are cut out for their three minutes of online-video fame. A Vault.com post features a blue-shirted manager with a knee jiggle and a boring spiel. A job-seeking techie on YouTube admits charmingly that he has no experience editing videos–and then packs his with gimmicky cutaways. One software engineer scores his with gangsta rap. And did I just fast-forward through that video on HireVue because of the guy’s bad teeth?
One in particular, I thought, was terrific. I describe it in the article:
Benjamin Hampton, a recent graduate of Washington State University in Pullman, posted a 5 1/2-min. video on YouTube last fall, thinking it would be something different to send to employers. With his brother at the camera, the résumé “took me 45 minutes to film and 30 minutes to edit,” says Hampton, 23. But that was enough to impress Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. The public relations firm interviewed him–in person–a short time ago.
See for yourself:
After watching Ben’s video, I backed off of making my own. For one thing, his breezy comment–”it took me 45 minutes to film and 30 minutes to edit”–I knew wouldn’t be true for me. I’ve never edited film on my computer (because I’m, like, 80), and between my pileup of deadlines and meetings I knew I couldn’t do justice to my job. Here’s how it would have gone:
OPENING SCENE: LISA sits in cruddy, tea-stained office chair surrounded by teetering mountains of unopened mail. The phone rings. LISA sits, right shoulder awkwardly mashing the phone against her ear, yapping like a chihuahua at some unseen source while typing 12,567 words per minute.
LISA (turning toward camera with one hand over mouthpiece): What’s up? (Silence.) Seriously, what’s up? I’m on the phone.
LISA, IN VOICEOVER: Hi. I’m Lisa Takeuchi Cullen. I’m a writer at TIME Magazine. This is where I work. (B-ROLL of LISA shuffling down endlessly long, gray-carpeted corridor, stepping around Lev’s discarded books, edging past annoyingly cheerful interns, taking a detour to avoid passing boss’s office because he is waiting for copy she has yet to deliver.)
…you see where this is going. Booorrrring. As I said, some people just aren’t cut out for their three minutes of online video fame–and it appears that includes me. Once my job description includes jamming Mentos into bottles of Diet Coke, you’ll see me make my debut on YouTube.
But I did collect a bunch of advice on how to create a good video résumé. Some of it I thought was a bunch of advice on how to create a bad video résumé. I’ll post it in my next at-bat.