5 Reasons Why Candidates Should Love Video Cover Letters

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 7.51.36 AMEarlier this month, I decided to dip my toe back into the job market. It’s incredible to see how the candidate experience varies by company. While most of the applications and interviews are pretty standard, last week a company I applied with requested a video cover letter.

Initially I was surprised. I’ve been in the talent acquisition space for over 15 years and have never been asked (or asked anyone else) to create a video cover letter. I knew I didn’t want to do the standard “webcam 90-second life story,” so I decided to get creative. After editing the video, I compared it to my standard cover letter and came away with five advantages a video provides over a traditional written cover letter:

5.  Ability to show your personality. Resumes and cover letters have been great tools to reflect skills and experiences, but it’s very hard to craft a resume that showcases a candidates’ personality. Video breaks down that barrier and gives insight to how a candidate will represent themselves to team members and customers.

4.  Ability to showcase your moxie. Most candidates position themselves as overachievers, but how many will go the extra mile to make a top-notch video cover letter? People can turn on the webcam and make an average “selfie” style video, but with a little work it’s easy to stand out from the crowd, and you don’t need special equipment to do it.

3.  Ability to inject humor into the candidate review process. Many professionals (especially those in customer-facing roles) rely on humor to build relationships. Making potential employers chuckle in a cover letter could be your ticket to an interview.

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2.  Ability to make a physical impression. A candidate’s appearance, the tone of their voice, the location of the video, and editing quality are a direct reflection on the candidate.  Having a well-scripted video reflects how well the candidate prepared and gives employers an idea of their potential.

1.  Ability to flex the left side of your brain. Very few times in our careers will we be asked to make a 90-second autobiography. It’s a project that, with the right attitude, can be a lot of fun and exercise those creative muscles.

The clickable video cover letter above, at the top right of this article, was recorded using an iPhone and edited with iMovie for Mac. Watch the 90-second video and post your feedback in the comments section below.

Greg Mannon is a seasoned veteran in the war for talent. His innovative and creative approach in recruitment strategy, candidate experience, and outside the box sourcing techniques has won him several awards throughout his career. His mission is to help companies create successful strategies that bring in the best talent and keeps them coming. He is a full-time father of three and a volunteer firefighter.


6 Comments on “5 Reasons Why Candidates Should Love Video Cover Letters

  1. Love to see this, Greg – thanks for sharing! iCIMS introduced Video Cover Letter earlier this year and we’ve had great success in candidates electing to respond for the reasons you noted above. Plus it prevents hiring managers from getting into that “oh no” moment 5 minutes into an in-person interview when the candidate is simply not a fit. 🙂

  2. Oh my. Doesn’t this also open up the possibility of bias based on appearances…clouding sound judgment of a person’s skills. I’m thinking of the screen used in orchestra auditions which ultimately created more diversity and increased the talent levels.

    1. Hi Patty – we’ve actually seen many compliance depts react very well to this because the same questions are asked to each candidate in the same way every time. (These are sent in by request in response to a specific question only as opposed to a free for all submission on a career site.) Plus, candidates are seen during an in-person interview, LinkedIn profile picture, etc. so much nowadays that this is actually less of an issue than people initially believe.

    2. Patty, couldn’t it cut both ways? I’m thinking, as an example, of the story I heard at a conference about how the rock group Journey found a replacement singer by searching for lead singers on YouTube. It stumbled upon a guy in the Philippines who, maybe, wouldn’t have otherwise had a chance. Just one imperfect example, but I’m thinking video could both help and hurt a candidate.

  3. Recruiters say they don’t have and don’t take time to read written cover letters. Will they have time to sit through a video cover letter?

    And I too believe this opens up the door for recruiters or even hiring managers to be more biased on looks, race, speech all before they even get a chance to review ones skills and experience.

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