Dancers do it. Comedians do it, too. Other individuals who count on a visual
presentations to help snag a job know that videos can replace an actual
physical performance. In fact, you can find some of these video “resumes” on
YouTube, where singers and other
entertainers hope to be discovered. You can find other resumes at that site as
well (type “video resume” into the search box at that site), or at
VidRez.com, where hopefuls bring their
skills to the monitor.
Some of these “video resume” performances might leave you wondering if this
tool is worth the effort. Boring talking heads and poor sound and visual
quality might send shivers up your spine. If you have that reaction, think
what a potential employer might feel. Additionally, if you’ve read other
articles about video resumes, you might have learned that some human resources
personnel, recruiters, and potential employers shudder at the thought of video
resumes. Some companies refuse to view videos upon attorney advice, as these
visual accounts might open the door to discrimination based upon your
appearance, ethnicity, and race. Other recruiters are simply lazy or too
hesitant to use different technologies in their search for the right person
for the job. Either way, your video might end up in the garbage despite all
your best efforts.
But competition for employment may be so stiff that you’re would be willing to
try anything to get in the door. A video resume can get you face-to-face with
that employer far faster than your print resume can in many instances. Plus,
if you can’t make it across the country for a face-to-face interview, a video
can help bring your face to the employer. If you’re game to make a video
resume, the following tips will help to make your visual reference stand out
against all other videos.
You’ll need “lights, camera, action” to make a professional video. And, you do
want professional results, otherwise anything you do or say on this video will
be overwhelmed by lousy production. While
Kukral states that you can purchase everything you need for under $3,000
(which is a great price), you can get by on even less if you rent the
equipment, hire a professional, or enlist some film or graphic design students
from a local college. The latter two choices usually come with equipment that
they use for their work.
No matter if you employ help, rent, or purchase equipment, you’ll want
something close to a
camcorder if possible. This camcorder produces results that can be used by any
television station, so you know that you’re working with a high-quality tool.
If you can’t find anything like the
Sony DCR-VX1000, then
go for something that’s at least high S-VHS video quality. If you don’t want
to purchase this equipment, check out rentals. If you want to hire a person to
shoot the video, make sure that their equipment is current and top-notch.
No matter if you want to shoot the video indoors or outside, most situations
may require extra lighting,. Plus, you’ll need a tripod for most shots,
special lenses, batteries, and video software. You get the point – if you
bring a professional on board for this project, you may save money in the long
run and you’ll avoid unnecessary equipment purchases.
Before You Shoot
Before you hire anyone, think about how you want to portray your skills. This
process is called “pre-production,” and it includes scripting your video along
with some rough illustrations about the action that goes with the script.
shows you how to create a storyboard, and this skill will help you save money
when it comes to hiring a professional. You’ll be able to convey your ideas in
a form that the professional will understand. Print out and copy this
storyboard to sketch out your ideas [PDF].
For instance, if you’re a consultant, the video can show you at work with
someone in an office atmosphere. You don’t need to use an actual client, as
you can enlist friends or even actors to fill that role. If you conduct
seminars, bring a filmmaker along to videotape that seminar. You can reduce
that seminar down to the best five minutes in final editing. If you teach, use
film to show you in action in a classroom or as a tutor. Once again, you can
replace actual students with individuals who are willing to help you out as
As a reference point you can review televised political commercials. None of
these commercials are over 60 seconds long, yet the political candidate hopes
to get his point across succinctly within that time frame. Look closely at
that politician’s surroundings. Is the candidate in an office? Is he or she
walking outdoors alone or with another person? Or, is that individual talking
to a group of people? In all cases, the candidate hopes to portray his skills
or her potential as a leader who is seen in a positive light – or, at least in
a better light than his or her opposition.
While political commercials often leave much to be desired in professionalism
and objectivity, their focus is similar to yours. You also want to portray
yourself as a leader who outshines your competition. While you can avoid
negative commentary, you’ll want to dress professionally, be well groomed, and
make sure that your setting portrays your skills, expertise, and aspirations.
Avoid at all costs the “head shot” where you’re speaking directly to the
camera in a setting devoid of personality.
Graphic designers know that their portfolios, not their resumes, often sell
their skills. Think of your video resume as your portfolio, where your skills
shine above and beyond your resume. There are levels in creativity, however.
The person who auditions for a heavy metal band will want an edgy video that
portrays his musical skills. The accountant might want a more conservative
video that portrays his numerical and leadership skills.
While “edgy” can go just about anywhere, “conservative” has some boundaries
that can be defined by color usage and body language. You might use more blue
and avoid red if you lean toward a conservative production. Red connotes
‘danger’ and risk whereas blue brings a stable and businesslike demeanor to
the table. If you really want to be on cue, pick up a few industry annual
reports and look at the colors they use. You’ll see blues, taupe, and other
universally “safe” and demure colors – with red as an accent in some cases.
Follow their examples in your typefaces and backgrounds to mimic the industry
Also, you’ll discover that most management photos within these annual reports
show them in a pose where they’re making eye contact with the reader. Mimic
their confidence when you talk to the camera. Although you might prefer a
voice-over video where the viewer sees you in action, you might want to end
the piece with a full-on eye contact camera pose as you sign off. This pose
will inspire confidence from your viewers (even if you don’t feel it
As I mentioned previously, a political candidate can get a message across in
60 seconds. You don’t want to bore your potential employer with your video.
You want to generate curiosity so that you snag that interview. Don’t go
beyond five minutes with this video, and a one- to three-minute video will say
everything you need to say without hogging a potential employer’s time.
With that said, it can take up to a full day or more to generate shots for a
professional video. But, you can save time and money when you provide a script
for your video and when you scout out a setting or settings and ‘extras’
willing to work with you in that video. Be open to ideas generated by anyone
you hire to produce and/or edit your film, but don’t get sucked into paying
for extra time when you feel that you have what you need. Your budget and your
ability to see any digital reruns that the film maker produces can help you
decide how much film time you need to pay for. Make sure that the filmmakers
you bring into this project know your budget before you begin shooting.
Any person in your video will need to sign a consent form so that you can use
their presence in your video promotion. You can search online for forms to
use, like the
form that the curators at the University of Missouri use for their video
productions. If you feel uncomfortable with your revised edition of that
consent form, check with an attorney to make sure that you’re covered against
any lawsuits. The important point to remember is that any person who is
recognizable in your video must sign a consent form before you send that video
Other legalities include any settings you choose for your production. Some
public spaces require that you fill out forms as to the time of day that you
plan to shoot and possibly other details. Some places refuse any filming,
especially if they’re sensitive to security issues. In short, it’s best to
check with any local authorities or management to learn whether you can use a
certain setting for your background.
Finally, the reason that many companies may avoid reviewing your video resume
is that they’re afraid you’ll sue them for discrimination if you’re not hired.
Frankly, some of these excuses seem lame, as your accent can be heard in
person or over the phone (that takes care of the ethnicity issue), your
religion might be obvious anyway if you’re a Rastafarian who sports
dreadlocks, and your age, gender, and personal style also becomes apparent
through face-to-face interviews.
Even if a particular company doesn’t want to view your video resume, you can
post that video online. If you blog (and if you’re a professional, a
can be beneficial), you can post the resume on your Web site. But, you
might want to place that resume on a page that isn’t a home page so that
people aren’t accosted with your presence and voice immediately. Instead,
provide a link to that video from the home page and on your print resume. This
link provides reviewers a choice that isn’t confrontational and that won’t
cross any imagined lines into lawsuits.
If you know little or nothing about video production, you might want to read
up on this skill through various online resources like the California Arts
Production 101. While some points within this tutorial might seem
irrelevant, other information – like the different camera shots – might help
you become more creative with your pre-production scripting.
Some points you might want to understand include:
A dramatic opening to your video can include a title (your name and
occupation, for instance) with a wide shot of a background before the camera
zooms in on you in action. This XWS, or EWS (extra wide shot) allows the
viewer to establish a grip on where you are in the scheme of things. For
instance, if you’re leading a seminar, the film maker might create an EWS of
the entire audience from the back (so you don’t need consent forms from the
entire audience!), and then narrow down to you – the primary player – in
action on the stage.
Use tripods for steady shots. Use hand-held camera shots when you want to
show some action. But, you might not want to take that hand-held camera shot
to extremes (as the film makers did in
The Blair Witch Project), unless you
want a creative video.
Movement from right to left on the screen tends to bring the primary actor
(you) into focus and into the audience’s viewpoint. Movement from left to
right usually signals a retreat away from the audience. If you end the video
with an eye-contact pose, you can leave the screen when you walk away to
your left. This action would provide a left-to-right exit that would signal
a professional end to the video. Or, use a fade in editing…a technique
that also signals an ending.
If your career focuses on body parts (like your hands if you’re an artist or
surgeon, or feet if you design shoes), then show those hands or feet close
up in action. This shot doesn’t need to be long – but it can be effective.
You might not use any of the points above, but other ideas listed at the “101″
site or at other sites like
Television Production Tips can
help you refine your ideas and know what to expect from professionals before
you begin to shoot.
Don’t spend a few hundred dollars on video editing software if you don’t have
the money or the time to edit your video. Editing can consume days as you
preview all shots, cut out the unnecessary material, splice together various
scenes, add sound effects or music, and as you make sure that your voice is
heard above any other incidental noise. This is where you might need a
professional to help you with the end product, as that person can save you
both money and time.
Whether you take on a student or a professional for the editing, ask them
about how they plan to edit the video. Ask to see previous projects so you can
learn more about their skills in shooting and in editing. A great editing job
is one that doesn’t appear edited…the primary player stays in focus the
entire time and the viewer can focus on that player and his message instead of
the editing job.
Two points to remember in video editing:
The beginning should show a title shot that states who you are and your
occupation. When you consider typefaces for this introduction (and for the
closing), use something simple like Verdana or Times New Roman. Avoid
scripts, as those typefaces are difficult to read.
Your video closing should provide very specific instructions for the viewer,
such as a way to get in touch with you. You might want to include a phone
number, email address, etc. at the end, but keep it simple. You might
vocalize that you’ll contact the viewer first, but make it easy for the
viewer to contact you first.
You might want to read about
so you can understand the process. Knowledge about all phases within the video
resume project can help you save money as you learn what to expect from anyone
you hire. Plus, as you learn, you can also decide whether this process is
perfect for you or if it might prove to be a dead-end project.
When to Avoid a Video Resume
You might want to avoid a video resume if you’re truly camera shy. I know a
woman who believes she looks like
Williams on film – while no one else believes that she looks like this
comedian, her belief can affect how she comes across on video. Film can be
unforgiving, even with the best editing.
If you tend to slouch or if your personal style is questionable, you can’t
hide these attributes in real life – but a video permanently enshrines your
worst attributes. Some problems can be resolved with the help of a
professional who can help you pick wardrobe colors and styles that fit your
body type and personality. A haircut that costs more than $15 (but within your
budget) can help you pull off a more refined look. Finally, if you’re set to
produce a video resume, you might think about using a little make-up to hide
blemishes and skin blotches. While the filmmaker can edit some of these
problems, you’ll pay for that editing. Best to deal with skin problems on the
All these changes can help you present yourself at your best in a face-to-face
interview as well as on video. In this case, even if you’re camera-shy, you
might use the video as a tool that can help you to improve your physical
The End Product
The total video package is as important as any face-to-face meeting, and its
package and reproduction should be as spotless as your demeanor. Video
reproductions are easy to make, and you can replicate videos that you download
into your hard drive. Be sure to choose DVD discs that are high quality for
reproductions, and you might consider using print labels for the DVD and for a
You can download DVD templates that allow you to create print sticky labels
for the DVD and inserts for jewel cases. But, if you’re not comfortable with
using graphic software, think about hiring professional services for this job
as well. Just type “DVD design” into any search engine to find services that
will design a DVD label and cover art for your product. Always include your
name, address, and any contact information on both the DVD cover and on the
DVD label. You’ll want to include a print resume in this package as well.
As I mentioned previously, you can use the video on a Web site rather than
sending it out via snail mail. But, if you can use the video via mail as a way
to open doors, then don’t hesitate to send it out. You can also send the video
as a way to move a stalled interview process forward. If you’re hesitant about
sending a video, send a postcard that notes where the interviewer can find the
The video interview is a priceless distance-reduction tool that will bring you
closer to a company located more than two hours from your residence. The video
serves as a get-acquainted step that can fast-forward the interview process.
But, this video is not a replacement for a face-to-face meeting. You will
still need to perform live for any company that’s serious about hiring you.
While the video project might seem pointless or too expensive in the long run,
you might discover that you’ll learn more about how you present yourself
through this project than through any other means.
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