Time to Hit Pause on Video Resumes

I recently became aware of a recruiting innovation: the online video resume. The first site offering these is RecruiTV. Video resumes have been around for decades but had little popularity because of the logistics of creating, distributing, and viewing them.

However, now anyone can get a webcam for under $50. Distributing videos online is simple, so video resumes are going mainstream. While it sounds like an interesting idea, their value is somewhat questionable and in fact, could be downright detrimental to the recruiting process.

Defining the Video Resume

While a video resume introduces applicants on camera, the value such visual imagery adds is debatable. A text resume allows for specific pieces of information to be parsed out and compared across candidates. When the information is delivered verbally, recruiters need to glean the details themselves.

This can be tedious and time-consuming given that there’s no way to jump between sections of the “resume.” I also doubt that many recruiters are eager to watch hours of amateur video. Candidates often demonstrate an acute case of verbal diarrhea, carrying on endlessly in rambling sentences that would test the patience of Job.

Instead, the video resume could be used to augment a text resume since it may provide certain other information about the individual that can’t be assessed from a text resume. For example, an individual may be able to demonstrate exceptional communication skills.

Or a video resume may help where a candidate wants to demonstrate a specific skill that cannot be described well in text. This may only be relevant to an extremely limited number of occupations (no prizes for guessing what those are). In one case, a candidate applying for jobs at political lobbying firms created a political ad, featuring himself. That’s creative but it’s hard to envision equivalents for jobs in accounting, HR, engineering, or law.

Candidates wanting to differentiate themselves by showing some creativity in their presentations may find this quite a challenge since creativity isn’t an innate or easily acquired skill.

A casual review of available video resumes shows that creativity most frequently means some attempt at humor. Humor works in a traditional advertisement, but applicants might come off looking foolish. Add in the fact that most people are not comfortable in front of a camera, and you begin to wonder why anyone would do it.

Recognizing the Pitfalls

Video resumes are being pitched as a unique way for candidates to market themselves, but that doesn’t necessarily make them a useful device for employers. There isn’t any legislation or guidance around the use of video resumes, but the EEOC is already warning employers not to let any information related to race, gender, or disability affect hiring decisions.

Someone should enlighten the agency that most recruiters (in fact, most people) can, after reviewing a resume, partially describe a candidate’s demographic profile. But that doesn’t mean they let it influence their decisions.

If candidates get rejected based on their video resumes, it’s more likely because they came across as unprofessional or worse, as a dim bulb because of their attempts at creativity.

Nonetheless, this is an area of significant uncertainty today. We do not know if viewing an individual’s video resume makes them a “candidate” in the legal sense and it’s not likely to be known for a long time.

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It’s not a reach to believe that a creative lawyer can make a case for discrimination if it’s known a video resume was viewed before an individual was rejected. Given how easy it is to find out where someone has been on the Web, recruiters may want to use an anonymizer to mask their IP address before browsing through video resumes.

It wouldn’t hurt if video resumes included a transcript of the presenter’s speech. That could be kept along with other documents relating to a candidate and make a recruiter’s job much easier. Since that’s not the case today, anyone receiving a link to a video resume should demand it, or else be prepared to take detailed notes.

There’s also the technical limitation that there’s no way to download the files for archival or capture a video resume in an applicant tracking system. That would be unreasonable to expect, given how new the concept is, but it’s still a problem. This is not a minor issue, and in an audit, it could be impossible to justify selection decisions without the original video.

Since there are no standards for video resumes, candidates may end up revealing information they would never include on a text resume. Most candidates (at least in this country) know not to mention personal details or things unrelated to their professional life on a resume. There’s a generally agreed upon structure that’s widely known and usually respected. But there’s no such limitation on video resumes. A candidate can say anything, and it would have to be included as part of their record.

Conclusion

For highly sought-after jobs, video resumes may help candidates distinguish themselves from the rest of the monkey troop.

But employers and recruiters need to consider the ramifications of accepting and viewing video resumes. If your business card doesn’t have a rabbit’s head, an elephant, or the Comedy Central logo, you might want to stay away from video resumes for now.

Frankly, these exist because the technology allows them to be created easily, not because they represent some great innovation or add anything to improve recruiting. Recruiting processes are designed to include highly structured elements to ensure consistency. Video resumes are, for now, at odds with the requirements of structured processes.

Due to the current explosion of online video sharing, it is inevitable that video resumes will make their way into your recruiting universe. Do you have the policies and procedures in place to deal with jobseekers’ non-traditional tools?

Just be glad we don’t have video job postings. But who knows what the future holds?

Raghav Singh, director of analytics at Korn Ferry Futurestep, has developed and launched multiple software products and held leadership positions at several major recruiting technology vendors. His career has included work as a consultant on enterprise HR systems and as a recruiting and HRIT leader at several Fortune 500 companies. Opinions expressed here are his own.

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21 Comments on “Time to Hit Pause on Video Resumes

  1. Raghav, I would have agreed with you a few years ago, but the product to be launched in March (InterviewStudio) by Recruitment, Inc. covers most of this angst.

    My opinion is that video resumes, like many web inventions, have been simply an automation of a paper document. But now, with products like InterviewStudio, we can have a complete representation of a job seeker (resume, video interview, assessment test results, endorsements, references, google links, LinkedIn links to view their network, portfolio docs) all on one screen.

    The video portion is simply one piece and lets employers/recruiters get a sense of the candidate’s presence, communication skills, thinking style, and true interests for a next step in their career. This product can block off the visual of the video interview and simply play the audio version, if the candidate/employer is paranoid of discrimination.

    Also, these complete SHOWs are stored on the InterviewStudio servers and employers/recruiters are looking at LINKS to these shows. These links can be stored in Applicant Tracking Systems along with any of the downloadable documents in the SHOW. ATS vendors and Job Boards will like this, since it gives them the opportunity to ‘store’ a more progressive view of a candidate, but not pay for storage or suffer download time of their viewers.

    Check it out: http://www.interviewstudio.com (Coming soon).

  2. First, I find the following language in Mr. Singh’s article to be, simply, deplorable

    ‘For highly sought-after jobs, video resumes may help candidates distinguish themselves from the rest of the monkey troop.’

    I hope it doesn’t reflect a norm in our profession where we, as a matter of course, refer to humans as animals. Talk about a legal faux pas.

    In these days of violence around the world, where dehumanizing humans is de rigeur for anybody who wants to make a point in their mass communications, I am hoping it was just an oversight.

    Second: Video resumes are a misnomer. A resume is a text version of a person’s career history. To put that on video makes little sense. Imagine staring at text on video.

    What ill-informed and over eager applicants are forwarding on video to recruiters are videos of their talking head to an employer.

    It is a reverse-informational interview.

    Instead of the candidate viewing a company dvd, the recruiter is watching a candidate dvd (perhaps entitled in the worst cases ‘Oh! The Wonder of Me!’)

    Why would any recruiter worth their salt put any stock in such an exercise to begin with?

    The applicants shoot themselves in whichever unfortunate body part has presented itself in that moment in time.

    Unconscious applicants make fatal errors by sending these reverse-info interview video files to company reps….they are simply messing up a perfectly worded text resume by talking those same points.

    There are some solid uses for VIDEO INTERVIEWING that can save companies thousands of dollars per candidate.

    But the need for structure, as Mr. Singh elaborates upon to his credit, *is* paramount.

    The companies can choose from some quality vendors who will shepherd their candidates through the video interviewing process for less than 10 bucks a month (charge to the candidate) and under 100 bucks per candidate for the company.

    File conversions, downloads and documentation of questions asked all have legal protections. It is a wild and wooly internet….but perhaps not as much as Mr. Singh might suggest concerning unsolicited video documentaries on The Next Big Whatever.

    Hope springs eternal though. Technology makes us think sometimes. Thank-you, Mr. Singh, for doing just that!

    Anthony Chavez
    National Sales Director
    SupplyChainBrain.com
    The Job Board
    achavez@supplychainbrain.com

    ‘Reach over 200,000 high end supply chain and logistics professionals on one reasonably-priced
    niche job board.’

    (((((o)))))((((o))))))((((((o))))))

  3. I haven’t heard much discussion of video resumes recently or seen an increase in their prevalence. I have to assume that the idea was quickly nipped in the bud after Aleksey Vayner’s e-humiliation in October 2006. Click the following link for a good reason why video resumes are unlikely to blow up, unless it is in the candidate’s face: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aleksey_Vayner

  4. Amanda,
    great link. Recently I was interviewed by National Public Radio about this very topic. The focus of the discussion was based upon the legal can of worms a video resume can open.

    There are internal perceptions and prejudices that can arise from the video resume even without us realizing it is happening. Someone who is overweight, shorter, not as attractive as another candidate may have lesser opportunities of getting the interview. Recently Princeton did a literal blind study – They found that when women who auditioned for positions on the symphony they had better luck, by 50 Percent when their identities were hidden. http://www.princeton.edu/pr/news/00/q4/1127-auditions.htm

    When looking at my resume, one does not know that I am a bi-racial female, especially with the last name Mattonen. You don?t know my age, weight, height, or even my religion. Thus the only details that will be focused on are my skill sets to determine if I qualify for an interview.

    Thus when I have a chance to come in for an interview, face to face, it will be easier to determine if my chances for getting the job shall be based upon my skill sets, rather than due to personal prejudices.

    The future potential for other problems may arise when individuals may not choose to submit a video resume due to concerns of discrimination.. If they did become a ?norm? then automatically it can easily be assumed that something may be ?Wrong? with this candidate because they sent paper instead of video..

    Do I see a future for video resumes? No, but for the video interview, after the candidate has been selected for their abilities, Yes! For sure, it will help reduce costs for flying individuals into interviews.. the potential is good there.. but pre selection.. how scary!

  5. ?Video Resume? vs. ?Video Interview?: Is there a difference?

    There has been considerable discussion in the HR and electronic recruiting communities, and from columnists about the concept and even viability of video resumes.

    At times the terminology changes and people do not seem to have sorted out the differences between video ?resumes? and ?interviews,? or it hasn?t occurred to them that there even necessarily would be differences. The two should not be confused. By ?video resume? most people would think of a video clip presented by a job seeker with or without a text resume as a way of helping a potential employer better understand the ?qualities? of the candidate. I think the market is already determining that employers won?t touch, or won?t want to touch video resumes for all the right EEO reasons. The content is likely to be so inappropriate that it would be tantamount to a job seeker simply providing a link to their MySpace account where they have probably posted all their totally inappropriate information. Any rational job seeker wouldn?t do such a thing, and people are catching on to the fact that recruiters are now beginning to search such sites and even Google people?s names as part of the vetting process. Video resumes won?t fly and won?t go forward.

    Lawsuits have been filed by jobseekers for lack of equal opportunity for so much less than an employer looking at a video resume with a candidate starting his pitch off with how well he plays piano…I can see it now, the company did not provide me equal access to a piano to demonstrate my skills….trial lawyers will take it to the bank.

    A structured, occupationally specific video interview, driven by the employer, is however a different story. Structured interviews are just that?structured interviews, and as long as they occur after the presentation of the text resume or job app and before the time when the employer would otherwise be conducting a telephone interview or the face to face interview, then there will be a powerful market for the solution.

    Demand driven video interviews present huge opportunities to further compress the HR process, increase accountability, reduce legal exposure and bring HR and management into greater strategic alignment on meeting the organization?s needs, which is a major topic of discussion today. Virtual Video Interviews? also provide job seekers with a powerful tool in today?s online marketplace.

    I was personally amazed about a year ago when I presented such a solution combined with another complimentary technology to the HR Director of one of the largest gaming operations in Vegas, and amazingly enough his response was ‘…if I were to implement such a solution here at…then in a short period of time other people in the organization would be wondering what we needed an HR department for….’ The statement was far from true, but the good fellow clearly saw the power and value and was threatened by it…

    I only know of one company that has been doing this right since 2001.

  6. We completely agree! There are a lot of issues that can be presented by having a candidate submit a video resume or a company. However, I think that there is a time and place for where the video could be a benefit for the department ? during the interview and screening phase.

    From my experience, video in the hiring process has a 2 main issues that need to be addressed for it to be successful: 1) spontaneity from the candidate and 2) control by the company (i.e. determining questions, disallow edits etc)

    Without control, a recruiter will see the same discrepancies on a video as they do on a resume. Think of looking at the 50th take of a video resume the same as the 50th edition of a candidate’s resume.

    There are several blog posts (and comments) worth looking at:

    Heather Hamilton @ Microsoft http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/archive/2006/10/17/the-exploding-video-resume.aspx

    Recruiting.com
    http://www.recruiting.com/the_newest_job_hunting_skill_videographer

    Recruiting.com
    http://www.recruiting.com/spent_three_hours_looking_at_candidate_videos_hired_no_one

    HireVue
    http://hirevue.com/blog/?p=16

    Video interviews offer much more value than video resumes and are gaining wider acceptance in the industry by major industry players.

    My company, HireVue and at least one other have been doing recorded video interviews for two years now and 2 other companies are preparing to launch into this space.

    I know personally that many companies have reaped huge rewards using these services and many recruiting agencies have gained substantial new business by having candidates take video interviews for clients.

    The benefits that recorded video interviewing can deliver are enormous through cost savings alone (having candidates interview from their home etc) and when the value derived from a standardized interview for all candidates where you can compare and evaluate candidates against each other quickly and easily is factored in, the value can be tremendous to adopters. Combine that with the benefits that people feel they would get with a video resume and you are able to get the best of both worlds through a more controlled approach.

    Mark Newman
    COO
    mnewman@hirevue.com

  7. Raghav, I actually agree that the internet has just sped up the volume of unqualified paper OR videos that can be thrown at a job opening. I’ve been running an agency for 14 years now and it not only slows down the process but makes client companies go back to only looking at referrals and ‘friends’ in their desperation for candidates.

    Often the recruiting team (internal or external) just pretends to look at the volume of candidates and finds clever ways to briefly scan and dump…. It’s creating more chaos than good in many cases.

    I do think we’re putting our heads in the sand if we don’t realize that video interviews (proactively sent by a candidate OR reactively requested by an employer) are actually here to stay…. 20 years ago everyone swore that no one would put resumes online since they were ‘private’.

    If a recruiter or employer will be prejudiced about a person on a video, then they will be prejudiced about that person when they show up in person at the door. It is simply easier to shut off a video than to slam a door in their face….

    The problem now is that it is all about corporate culture match… Or more to the point… About hiring manager match… And so much time is wasted on in-person interviews BECAUSE no one caught something in the tone over the phone, or no one even talked to the candidate to determine communication skills.

    Once the candidate is there in your office, you HAVE to give them at least 1/2 hour of your time for ‘corporate courtesy’. Not to mention the candidate you flew all the way across the country for an interview only to find out in the first 1/2 hour that you wasted your money… At that point you need to show this executive candidate a lot more courtesy than 1/2 hour… And these ‘face-to-face revelations’ are not normally about gaps on the resume or lack of keywords — they are about mismatch to the corporate culture or speed of decision-making, or vision or mission.

    Lastly, to your point about HireVue, if they are flourishing it points out that Video Resumes are going to stick. If they are not flourishing, I would venture to say it is because their approach is a bit off the mark having to mail video cameras to the candidates or having candidate schlep to their studio, or they are too expensive, or that they are representing too young an audience.

    There are 80 million baby boomers in the US today, 25% of whom are ‘execs’ and thousands of them looking for jobs on a daily basis… These are the target market for a more complete product that includes Assessment test results, endorsements, choice of high level interview questions, links to their network, etc. These are all the OTHER due diligence items that employers wish their recruiters would do upfront in the screening process…

  8. Colleen,
    the previous posts explains the difference between a video resume and a video interview. HireVue specifically works with viedo interviews and within the guidelines of EEO compliance.

    With an interview someone is able to have an opportunity to come in, and determine if the company chose not to hire them based upon discrimination. They knew that they were selected for interview due to their skills.

    Thus they have a better opportunity to say, hey, how come I wasn’t hired even though it was determined via the interview that my background was specific to the requirments presented to the job criteria

    With a video Resume, unfortunately that opportunity is lowered. How can I prove that it was my picture or appearance that you disliked.. that was why I wasn’t selected? These are some of the factors that are disturbing in regards to compliance.

    Also why it is not a good idea to maintain information, including resumes with pictures or personally identifiable information.

    Though I do think Video Interviews are a tremendous opportunity for the companies, and can see potential for them in the future, especially in regards to the Cost Saving Feature.. the only concern I have with them is the ‘one sided’ aspect of the interview.. the company asks the questions and is interviewing the prospective candidate rather than the candidate having the opportunity to field those questions.. I am sure that there will be technological ways to get around that in the future though..

  9. That in the interview process we actually see people ‘live’ at which point we can tell their race (most of the time), approx. age, height, weight, and judge them on ‘beauty’…

    I think most of the naysayers are harping on things that aren’t problems. I think they are just resistant to change. The term ‘video resume’ is stupid in and of itself. First of all the video profile is something that augments a written resume. No one has time to view video profiles unless the resume is a close match for the position being recruited. Secondly, the video profile adds to or intensifies the high points of the candidate?s skill set or experience. It isn’t about just repeating what is written.

    Lastly (for now anyway) I think that everyone has lost sight of the power of a video profile and what it can do for a jobseeker. How many of you have been in a job search and said ‘If only I could get in front of the company….’ Video profiles give you that opportunity, if you resume is a good match. Do well in your profile video, and a face to face should follow. -Carl

  10. Most of the negative comments I hear associated with video resumes are from those who know very little about the technology, have committed little time to understanding it and the benefits such a tool can have. Where some might see negatives, I see possibilities and potential.

    Most importantly the video resume should be used to augment and complement a written resume. Job seekers may be able to land more relevant interviews because they are able to show all of their strengths, not just the ones they can write down on paper. Video resumes can help employers establish a more complete overall impression of the applicant without ever having to leave the computer.

    Video resumes can streamline the whole recruitment process. Employers can save time overall, by reviewing video before asking potential finalists to travel for interviews. The time it may take to view ten videos is minimal in contrast to the time it may take to conduct ten first interviews.

    This is not to make light of the potential hazards out there, the number of law suits filed each day against recruitment agencies for discrimination highlight the need for diligence and social responsibility. A smart recruitment firm will have in place a transparent system with extra steps and protocols, to ensure that they protect themselves from the risks associated with this industry. But this is not a problem that will be augmented by video resumes, indeed the same problems of discrimination can be said of face to face interviews.

    Yes there are potential hazards associated with video resumes, but many in the recruiting industry are betting that the practice will blossom. With increased broadband connections, and increased adaptation and the evolution of video technology, video resumes are sure to be the way of the future. As the technology improves and becomes more widely embraced, I am sure video resumes will be the norm?

    At Stafftube this new tool is being actively and spiritedly promoted. Visit the Stafftube website and upload your video resume and show the rest of the world what you?ve got!

  11. Carl,
    You mentioned that at least in an interview discriminatory information can be gleaned.. well at least the Candidate was Able to GET to an interview, and determine that the company had acknowledged their experience. They will also be able to recognize In the interview if the company resisted hiring due to discrimination.

    The Video Resume submission makes this more Difficult to be determined. The company could lie and say that they never received the resume, deleting after a 3 second review; unfortunately this would not be revealed until there was an electronic discovery in an investigation.

    Aaron, I am a bit offended by your comment that those who are opposed to the ideas of Video Resumes are opposed due to lack of knowledge of them. Many of us are more than aware of them, but have been interested in the Feedback from the Candidates and Clients who have seen them (like myself) but prefer not to use them. Your comment put me off even more especially when it can be determined that there may be a motive to ?push? them, since your company helps create and distribute them.

    Legal Risks that may come from this don?t outweigh the benefits. Frankly I don?t see the benefits anyway. Who has the Time and patience to review Minutes of resumes, considering that the Average time to Review a Traditional Resume is less than 20-30 Seconds ? Video Resumes are time consuming, difficult to be able to fast forward or rewind to particular areas; Not to mention that if one does this the chances of missing pertinent information is more likely to happen.

    Carl, why should a Video Resume be any different for a candidate in ?getting in front of the company? compared to a traditional resume? As Raghav mentioned the video resume actually may do more harm to the candidate than actual good..

    I am all for the Video Interview. Saves time, money, creates ability to have uniform conformity with interviews, and at least the Candidates were Chose based upon a professional resume that Detailed Experience ? thus appearance, and discriminatory characteristics will not be a sub conscious or conscious focus for the hiring authority reviewing.

  12. Some of the feedback we have received in Australia
    http://www.candidatesalive.com.au

    Candidates Alive have had an excellent response from jobseekers, recruiters and especially employers who have used video resumes. Jobseekers relish the opportunity to stand out from other candidates and be seen and heard first by employers.

    Recruiters finally have a way to win new clients by offering them an innovative solution to the recruitment process which ultimately saves employers tremendous amounts of time.

    Candidates Alive launched in October 2007 holding seminars in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Auckland and the response from all parties including the media has been fantastic.

    We provide recruitment agencies with the opportunity to create high quality candidate video resumes from their offices and then showcase these candidates to employers.

    We spent 12 months researching the market and trialing our system to ensure the needs of recruiters, jobseekers and employers were met. Currently we have a number of recruitment agencies using the system and creating video resumes for their clients.

    We are not a job board and privacy and confidentiality are of the utmost importance to us and our clients. The recruiter controls and manages each video resume and can discontinue a video resume link at any time. Candidates have the option of going on video if they choose and many of them see this as a great opportunity to stand out from other jobseekers.

    Recruiters have found it frustrating at times to get their candidates in front of hiring managers. There are many candidates who have outstanding communication skills and vibrant personalities. To convey this to an employer in black and white or over the phone is can be difficult.

    Through our user-friendly system, an employer can instantly view a candidate video simply by clicking on a URL link that has been sent via email by a recruitment consultant. In such a tight labour market, responsiveness wins in this game and it is critical to get good candidates in front of hiring managers fast.

    With regards to discrimination, video resumes are just like any other step in the recruitment process. Whether it be an initial telephone conversation with the candidate or a face-to-face interview, all employers must abide by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Act.

    Ultimately, if an employer uses video resumes in the right way, while abiding by anti-discrimination laws, they are at no risk and will enjoy the benefits of a faster recruitment process.

    We believe that with the technology now available, video resumes are the logical next phase in global recruitment. The feedback we have received from jobseekers, employers and recruiters suggests that video resumes are here to stay. Like any new concept, it takes time to evolve and some will jump on board quicker than others ? and that?s ok.

  13. Thanks to high speed Internet and technological innovation, job seekers can say farewell to old-fashioned resumes and begin using cutting-edge online video methods to present themselves to potential employers.

    This video resume enhances the paper resume rather than replacing it and allows candidates to stand out in a highly competitive job market. Employers view a candidate’s video resume through a web link that is printed on the paper resume or electronic resume. The employer also has the option of downloading and printing a hard copy of the paper resume from the video resume.

    With an estimated 73% of all job seekers regularly using the World Wide Web to seek employment, a GnarleyDog.Com video resume provides the next logical step in revolutionizing the human resources industry.

    What makes video resumes developed on GnarleyDog.Com so different from traditional resumes? Scriptwriters, professional voiceover artists, flash animators that allow the user to act as the director and developer of their own video presentation. Now, the video resume becomes a professional commercial allowing an individual to stand out in crowded job market.

    To view a sample video resume, go to http://www.GnarleyDog.Com.

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