Thanks to today’s obsession with social media culture, it’s no surprise that job candidates are looking to vamp up the application process by boosting their paper CV with a video one. You can compose a video CV pretty easily and professionally, and the results can be truly unique. But is a video CV going to land you a job, or will it actually decrease your chances? There are contradictory elements to this argument. Let’s examine some:
Make Employers Notice You
If you apply for a job with lots of candidates, a video CV is sure to make you stand out from the other applicants. However, before you send it in, you need to think about who you’re sending it to. The job you’re applying for can often determine whether a video CV is a sensible choice.
If you’re applying for something that requires tech-saviness or a fun personality, it might make all the difference. If you’re just applying for a standard office it could come off as narcissistic or pretentious. It all depends on the person watching it, really. Some employers might appreciate the daring nature of someone who wants to go the extra mile. Another employer might roll their eyes when you do a cheesy impression or tell a controversial joke.
It’s a Risk
Sending a video CV is definitely a risk, because you’re really rolling the dice and cannot control all of the factors that determine its potential success or failure. You cannot control the personality of the person examining your video, and you cannot control the mood they are in that particular day. Perhaps they have stacks of paper CVs to go through and are frustrated at having to login to their computer just to check your application out. Alternatively, they might be having a great day and have the same dry sense of humor as you. There’s no way of knowing, really.
Is it an Unfair Advantage?
Critics of video CVs will often call it out as an unfair advantage in the job application process. Sure, you could argue that getting an insight into the candidate’s personality and confidence can move them up the candidates-that-may-be-interviewed ladder, but the selection process is always a highly subjective one. This applies to both paper and video CVs. I would argue that paper CVs are still going to impress an employer more than a video CV.
If you submit a hilarious video but then include a paper one that has spelling mistakes and terrible grammar, the employer is just going to remember you as the idiot who put time into a video but forgot spellcheck. A video CV is really only an unfair advantage on the rare occasion that you and another candidate have almost identical CVs. Even then, both of you will probably get a call for a interview, so both will still have the opportunity to demonstrate your fabulous personalities anyway.
A One Way Conversation
We all have different opinions, and there are many arguments to make in favor of a video CV. The main problem I see with it is that it is essentially a narcissistic interview. First, a video CV should never be a complete replacement for a paper one. If you send one that is more than three minutes long you’re going to quickly bore the audience (the audience being Human Resources, who have better things to do with their time than microwave some popcorn and watch your short film). Thus, if you absolutely must do one, it’s only to show more of yourself than comes across on paper. As such, all you do on a video CV is talk about things that you will talk about in an interview anyway: your personality, your strengths and weaknesses, or perhaps an explanation of some of the things you wrote on paper.
The difference is, in an interview the interviewer has control. By submitting a video CV, you’re essentially taking this control away and telling them what you think they should know about you. The problem with this attitude is that you have no idea what they want from you during an interview. It is highly presumptious to assume that they want to hear you rambling on about your exchange visit to China.
The Most Important Fact
You can find unlimited resources about video CVs. The one thing I was looking for while researching this article that can’t be found anywhere tells me a lot about the actual success of them. I have yet to find any statistics about people getting jobs using them. Sure, you can see how many people have started making them, but this is no measure of their success. Logic alone tells me that if video CVs really made a difference, sites trying to promote them would surely use statistics. I don’t know about you, but this does little to decrease my cynicism.
It’s Up to You
At the end of the day, your application has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else (except the potential employer, of course). If you decide it would be fun to do one and genuinely think it will help get your foot in the door: fire away. My advice would be to think about it carefully before you arrive at a decision. Marketing and software companies will probably love a video CV; but will your local supermarket? If you’re hoping to get an internship at the local accountant’s office, do you really think they care about your soft toy collection? We all know accountants only love grey suits and watching the news.
Finally, if you really can’t live without showing your wonderful self in a video to highlight how funny and amazing you are, make sure you at least do your research before making it. Get good software, write a rough script to manage time, and get family and friends to give feedback on it before you send it to a potential employer. Keep these things in mind, and you never know: your video CV might just be the thing that clinches the deal.
by Gillian Rixey
(Gillian is a PhD qualified freelance writer and scholar born in Ireland but currently residing in the United States.)