Video Resumes Revisited

Recently, I wrote about video resumes and their somewhat dubious value to recruiters. But a recent conversation with John Sumser has prompted me to expand on what I wrote, since maybe video resumes need a second look.

In my earlier commentary, I said I was unclear about anyone’s motivation for creating a video resume, given that the resume is often unflattering to the candidate. These resumes are amateur videos, usually produced without any script or editing and are far from the slickly produced ads for politicians. The overall effect can be the opposite of what a candidate intends; instead of impressing recruiters, a candidate may turn them off. Then again, well-produced video resumes don’t necessarily work either. (Just ask John Kerry.)

But video resumes are likely to grow in popularity, given their appeal to the crowd that frequents sites like MyFace, SpacedOutBook, etc. A video resume is the antithesis of a paper resume. And what is a paper resume but a document that has been stripped of all personality and is the fa?ade the candidate presents in hopes of ensuring that a search engine will lock on to the key words and move them to the top of the list.

When jobs are scarce, candidates make every effort to hide any sign they don’t fit. Show your authentic self, quirks and all, and you risk being summarily rejected. When jobs are plentiful, as they are now and are likely to be for a while, candidates know they are in the driver’s seat.

I’m reminded of the late ’90s when we last saw such a situation. At the time, a Fortune cover story featured a candidate who demanded as a hiring condition that his employer give him a place to bring his pet parrot to work. Problems ensued: the parrot didn’t like the employee spending time on the phone and would start screaming and biting. And it used the employee’s desk as a bathroom. Apparently it was worth it to the company; desperate times call for desperate measures.

The recession of 2000 to 2002 erased most employers’ memories of those days, given how candidates are generally treated today. So much of hiring resembles a game of liars’ poker, with each side trying to figure out what the other is doing while hiding some information about themselves.

Half of all resumes are estimated to contain some false information or outright lies. Employers routinely hide embarrassing facts about their organization or anything they consider has the potential to turn off a prospective employee. Candidates tolerate this when they have no choice, but with demand for candidates exceeding supply there’s no need for them to put up with it.

Enter the video resume: a manifestation of all that a candidate is. It would admittedly be easier for recruiters if candidates could just be slotted into nice little boxes and we didn’t have to deal with any outliers, but that is not going to happen.

Like it or not, we need to accept the new reality. That doesn’t mean we have to relinquish all control. The recommendations I made in my last article, such as demanding a transcript of a video resume, still apply. Our hiring processes will have to adapt to include these and that will not be easy. Creativity is not encouraged or supported by our systems.

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I recall a visit to a resume-processing vendor who showed me a resume submitted for a marketing job at P&G. The resume resembled a box of Tide. It literally was a three-dimensional box. The vendor had no idea what to do with it. I assume the candidate never even made it into the hiring process. This is an extreme example, but the point is that we have virtually no capability to deal with anything that’s outside some very narrow boundaries.

This is exactly what we confront with video resumes today. Hiring is still very much a structured process and we have to make video resumes work within those confines. There are technologies emerging to address this need.

HireVue is one company that has launched a service that eliminates many of the barriers to using video resumes. Their process provides structure by limiting candidates to addressing specific questions, allowing for comparisons across candidates, and preserving a permanent record of the results. The service is really more of a video interview, but then a video resume is basically just an interview as well, with no structure. HireVue’s service gives the recruiter much more control, as well as an archive to help with in an audit.

Other solutions are also emerging. PeopleScreening gives candidates the ability to create a structured video resume and a virtual-interview wizard that walks job seekers through the most common interview questions. Once the job seeker completes the process, they can distribute both an attached resume and the video resume link directly from the PeopleScreening website. There’s even a teleprompter.

Video resumes will only gain in popularity. They may help employers hire better and have other benefits as well. Knowing that candidates are more than the sum of their work experience and education could even expand diversity to where it actually has some real relevance.

We may laugh at what many video resumes show today, but they will improve as standards develop as to what’s acceptable and technologies evolve to help staffing deal with them, as is already happening. What is certain is that they are here to stay.

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.


14 Comments on “Video Resumes Revisited

  1. Raghav

    We couldn’t say it better ourselves. Video is very interesting when it comes to the hiring process with certain requirements necessary for it to really be efficient and effective – you mention structure which is important and standardization is too. Companies will learn how to handle any video as it becomes more common and you should start seeing that here very soon.


    Mark Newman
    COO, HireVue

    Contact me if you would like to receive our newest whitepaper: The Role of Video in the Hiring Process

  2. I can truly see the popularity and even a necessity for the video interview for the client who is limited in funds, and unable to fly candidates in for interviews.

    But, as many of these ‘kids’ today become older, they too will see the problems that will arise due to potential discrimination.

    If Video resumes continue to gain popularity, individuals who are older, overweight, diversity, or have some sort of handicap, will be resistant to video, and more prone to paper. Companies would then wonder why? what is wrong with this person that they were unable to submit a video?

    Currently in Britain, candidates are suggested to remove names from their resumes, so as to not be distinguishable. It is a good suggestion. My name is Mattonen, one would instantly assume that I am a white female.. I am not. Should I have used my former Married Name, one would have assumed I was Hispanic, I am not.. Would that have limited my chances for interviews.. well, according to several research studies, yes!

    A few years ago, a group in CA did a Name Research Test.. these testers focused on the Employment Agencies and found that individuals with Diversity sounding names were less likely to gain an interview. Whites were preferred 3-1 over African American sounding names
    In another study they found that individuals from the Pacific Rim and Asia faced even more challenges than the African Americans, even though Asians had a higher level of education attainment, exceeding that of White Americans (percentage)

    Video resumes do challenge the core of neutrality of All candidates. All flaws become prevalent, stutters, acne, weight, disfigurements. It is difficult to eliminate that first impression, and focus on ability. It is difficult to remain neutral. It is human nature to make first impressions based upon the senses, what one sees or hears.

    Paper Resumes at least will allow for a higher chance of being acknowledged, and the credentials can be viewed immediately. Less than 35 seconds. It is much easier to click off a video resume without even hearing the full background and experience..

    Karen Mattonen C.A.C, C.S.P
    Recruiting Standards Resources
    TEL: 858-668-3111
    FAX: 858-668-3011

    Recruiting and Staffing Training And Resources

  3. Video resumes are another ‘guess’ at what an employer wants and take up precious time and digital space. The nice thing about a resume it takes seconds to look at and allows us to make a decision to invest time and resources. Our Candidate database doubles quarterly and would crash if only a small percentage of candidates sent us video resumes.

    Pictures or work examples on the other hand can be embedded in electronic Word Documents. HTML Links show work examples and pictures pasted on the 3rd and 4th page of a resume have helped us place great overseas candidates.

    On the job pictures show a glimpse of what a Candidate can do. This has helped our customers look past weird names and countries of origin.

    Using any free messenger program a computer savy candidate and hiring manager can hook up a video interview. This gives rich interaction where both sides can explore the possibility of a fit. This is much better then one person guessing what interests a hiring team and trying to fit it into a sound bite.

    My two cents work of advice is to skip the video resume, enrich resumes with photo’s and links and keep video messenger names handy.

  4. I’ve commented on Video Resumes here in the past, and the difference between them and Video Interviews. Only days ago I did the most cursory examinition of some video resumes on prominent boards, and the results are fairly conclusive for those interested. One candidate had a video attached to her profile and the video was kind of a corp/organizational profile which showed 5-6 other people in her department before getting to her–and I’m not sure she was even in the video as I lost interest in finding out since she wasn’t the first and only person in the video.
    The second candidate had a photo of themselves in their profile which showed him surrounded by half a dozen Playboy bunnies (seriously, and they were clothed). I don’t know if the photo was real, or a cut/past job, but it was in any case in the upper left hand corner of their profile…No doubt there are perfectly good video resumes out there, but there’s no way of knowing apriori, and therein lies the danger.
    I didn’t even have to dig for this stuff…If recruiters and HR departments want to use Video Resumes they will at least have to hold their nose a great deal of the time and tiptoe gently–legally speaking–if their counsel will let them.
    Video Interviews however resolve all these issues.

  5. I am so glad to see that you have revised your opinion on the video resume. The 20 and 30 year olds have grown up with the Net and they love the new technology that is available to them to create their unique profiles on the Internet. People like yourself need to get real, what you think about this medium is of limited value, the younger generation feel very comfortable with the medium. You also answered your own question, written resumes are full of lies and companies that are hiring often manufacture a vision of what is taking place (tell lies). It is up to the hirer and the hiree to work through all the fabrication and decide if they are right for each other as I am sure they do. Remember what happened to Bill Gates when he initially talked about a PC world, no one could understand him because we had mainframes well now we have video resumes and thank goodness for that. People will become more knowledgeable and sophisticated in putting them together and the hirers will become more sophisticated in their ability to evaluate them. It’s called progress let’s get ready and embrace these new developments the world is not flat!!

  6. I am against video resumes for the simple reason that minorities will suffer. The ‘gatekeepers’ at some of the major corporations have not evolved to the point where everyone will be given equal treatment.

    Prejudice still exists the world over, and I doubt that the video resumes will make things better.


  7. Two of the leaders on the use of Video in the hiring process are Mark Newman of Hirevue and Steve Rothenberg of College Recruiter. Both are pioneers who have established the beachead and are using video today, not tomorrow.

    One has to only look at the success of the many video sharing sites such as YouTube to recognize we are in the beginning of a revolution in the way we communicate with each other. Video will become more, not less, important in the hiring process but I’m not sure the ‘Video Resume’ is the biggest payback.

    How about the ability of a company to ‘sell’ itself or a particular job? How about a targeted video by a talented candidate as part of the interview process? I don’t think we’ve touched the tip of the use of video in the hiring process and I look for Mark and Steve to lead the way for companies, recruiters and candidates. Its an exciting time!


  8. Christine,
    You mentioned that paper resumes there is a tendency to lie, and then you went on to mention Sophistication in putting them together.. Somehow you are under the impression that Video Resumes will present a more professional or honest outlook ? So I am assuming that you have not heard of the Infamous
    Aleksey Varner n?e Garber (Ivy league graduate?) ? the disaster of a Video Resume that was so infamous that it even hit National News? and even Wikipedia has a piece on him..

    To learn more about this, please see ?

    Alex forever will have a VERY difficult to live this down, and I am sure that there will be a challenge to find employment in a distinguished firm.. This is going to be a significant part of the video resume History.. and is a sure example that we should always watch what we say, or do, before we hit that enter key, because this thing will always be around on the internet..

  9. Over the past 6 – 8 months, the company I work for has researched a large portion of the many video resume sites on the web. There are many different ideas as to how a video resume service is most effective. They came to a number of conclusions:

    Most importantly, clarification as to where the video resume fits into the hiring process is essential.

    On the Employer side:
    The need to accurately ‘shortlist’ as quickly as possible is probably the most effective use of a video resume service.

    Employers do not want to watch a video resume if:
    – they drag on, wasting the employers time
    – the video resume has not been screened for content
    – they do not fit their criteria as a future employee
    – the video resume ‘dresses’ the job seeker up as someone other than what they would see in a face to face interview

    On the Job Seeker side their research has found that the seeker:
    – does not want to pay for their own resume, whether it is paper or video
    – typically has a computer and digital camera or web cam
    – does not want to release personal information on the web
    – is willing to create a video resume if the proper tools are provided

    The company I work for has taken this research and developed a processed based on this criteria.
    They are VERY new but have revolutionized the process in which video resumes are used as tools to ‘shortlist’ potential employees.
    Have a look for yourself at


  10. I’m in the mindset of a desperate Job Seeker with bills to pay and a stressed out spouse.


    I’m sending my video resume everywhere and no one will even interview me. Oh yeah, I forgot I’m over 40, minority and I mentioned in my video that I have 4 kids and married.

    You have no control over the content of a video resume but the Job Seeker goes to the EEOC because they feel like it has something to do with race, age and more.

    Don’t put yourself in this position, it’s not worth it. In fact, many employers should be proactive and indicate on their company website that Video resume aren’t acceptable. (Unless the job profession requires one)

    Video Resumes – Run Run Run !!

  11. Reva,
    The video resume is simply another method to put your facts in the hands of the employer. In the end it is the employer who decides if you fit their needs.

    Finding a good job requires ‘pulling out all the stops’ and when used properly, the video resume is a tool for you to get there. I would say forge ahead …….. don’t forget … you need a job.

    I would recommend you limit your video in lenth as well focusing in on some key points with regards to work experience, including your strengths.

    Our web site is designed in this way with ‘no’ personal information allowed.

    Good Luck
    Richard Cuch

  12. Reva,
    thanks so much for inputting your experience with Video Resumes – and if you have a chance I would love to interview you on a podcast.

    Recently National Public Radio had interviewed me on this topic. Something I wrote had grabbed my attention, and your experience demonstrates it well.

    I too am a diverse Woman, who is over 40 – from my resume it would be difficult to determine my age or race – You too are in the same boat. Like me, one could not determine race our last name.

    Thus, someone reviewing my resume would see only my experience, allowing me an opportunity to be interviewed. Which gives me the chance to see that the company Was interested in My qualifications

    If the company decided to discriminate against me during the interview due to my age, race, marital or family status, then of course I NOW have the EVIDENCE that the company decided against me not due to my Lack of Skills, but due to discriminatory reasons.

    This can be evident in many different ways – the average age at the company was under 30, white, males… etc.. OR I can also see by body language, the reception I had in the interview.. How I was treated before meeting them in person, versus how I was treated After.

    With the Video Resume, the chance for me to be able to determine that the Company even Reviewed the Resume, or decided not to select me based upon my qualification versus my Genetics is going to be virtually improbable, not impossible, but becomes highly suspect.

    There is a danger with companies who do rely on the Video resume – when they see paper, they can assume that something is ‘wrong’ with this individual that they did not want to do a video. Are they too old? are they Handicapped? Overweight, unattractive?

    Video Resumes exposes Way too much preliminary information – and I can bet that the young kids of today who are so excited of the prospect will lower their enthusiasm for them when they start entering their 40’s – and life starts to show on their faces.

    Reva, please contact me at 858-668-3111 if you are interested ? and I would love to hear from others who have had a negative experience with video resumes. Candidates or Companies.

    Karen M


  13. I have reviewed many video resumes that revealed nothing about the applicant’s race, religion or age and found them smart and refreshing. Many people have been hired because their video resume revealed clues their personality, their creativity and their personal style- and these are things that are not usually evident in a text resume.

    People will always feel as though they are being discriminated against- minorities and majorities alike. Video resumes will continue to evolve and will soon become the standard by which companies screen applicants.

  14. If discrimination is going to happen in an interview or selection process, it is a fallacy to say that the Video Resume is a contributing factor. If a Recruiter or Hiring Manger has the intent to discriminate, guess what? They are going to discriminate during all phases of the selection process. Why not just eliminate face to face interviews, since there is a remote possibility that during said interview, someone might figure out you are over 40 and a minority? Or better yet, let?s eliminate phone interviews because someone might detect an accent.

    No process, no amount of training or technology is going to ever remove the ?possibility? of discrimination from the hiring process. As Recruiting leaders a key component of our job is to educate our Hiring Managers and Clients on how to apply this new technology in a responsible way.

    My thought is the ?Chicken Littles? in the Recruiting industry will as usual miss the curve on this one and fall behind those willing to embrace technology, while managing risk. These are the same folks still espousing the virtues of ?candidate control? and that there will NEVER be any good candidates found on a job board.

    Best Regards,

    Nick Jimenez
    Executive Vice President
    701 B Street, Suite 540
    San Diego, CA 92101
    M: (619) 977-9374
    O: (619) 618-4203

    ? like dating for jobs??

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