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Do I Need a video resume Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Workopolis.com Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit www.CareerActivist.com.

Question: I really want to stand out in my job search, so I'm looking for ways to set me apart. I had my resume done by a professional. My website and Blog are top notch so employers can find me online. Now I'm wondering if I should add a video resume to impress employers further. I'm in the creative industry (advertising), so I'm thinking I can't go wrong by taking this extra step. What's your opinion?

Anuvinder P , Montreal , Quebec
Dear Anuvinder ,

Holy cutting edge, Batman. What with the steps you've taken already, you are definitely ahead of much of the pack. At least for the average job seeker.

In the creative world, however, there are all sorts of things you can do to differentiate yourself. Like post your entire portfolio of work online, so that employers can have a look at your best stuff. A site like Flickr.com or PhotoBucket.com works just fine here if you're using photos. Just be sure to include the URL of the site you use on your resume so emplolyers will know where to search.

You can also spruce up your Facebook account to make it look spiffy. Using art, music, layout and catchy text can make you appear quite creative. Be careful, though, to keep your postings in line with the kind of work that you're applying for. And for goodness sake don't forget that employers will judge you on your professionalism, not just your wacky sense of style. Try not to go overboard or you might end up putting people off.

Now to the matter of video resumes. I was recently speaking to a group of senior executives who are ''in transition,'' looking for new jobs. A few of them asked if they should do a video resume. I responded by saying they ought to ask themselves the following questions before jumping in:
  • Are the people who you are seeking employment from expecting to see a video resume from you? If not, you probably shouldn't bother.
  • Are you prepared to spend up to several thousand dollars on a professionally made production? Because knocking off a cheap one will make you look amateurish.
  • Are you a polished public speaker, with experience in front of a TV camera? If so, you'll come off great. Otherwise you may be in for a shock when you play back your video and see verbal ticks, facial movements and body language you've been blissfully unaware of. Ask anybody who's been out to a Toastmasters meeting if you don't know what I mean.

My belief is that video resumes are, in general, not ready yet for prime time. Employers are just getting used to scanning your electronically submitted resumes and using Applicant Tracking Systems to sort and rank them. The simply don't have the time to start watching thousands of five minute videos -- not to mention that you expose yourself to potential ''screening out'' on the basis of looks, how you sound, etc. This, by the way, is why it's illegal for employers here to demand that photographs be attached to your application (though in a number of European countries your photo, marital status, and other personal info are standard fare - yikes).


Interestingly, however, the next wave on the employer recruiting side is to post videos of their workplace online. Look for all sorts of these to crop up at your favourite job bank soon.

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