While traditional work histories still rule, the day may not be far off when video pitches become a standard supplement.
by Francesca Di Megliofrom Newsweek
A keyword search of “résumé” on the online video site YouTube turns up 5,180 results, including videos of everything from someone breaking into his boss’s office to a young person who plays the piano and sings his own praises in the hopes of launching a career in public relations. With all the buzz around video résumés, the B-school student seeking that post-MBA job might think the paper résumé—or its online equivalent—is dead. But at least for this year’s class of grads, the message is “think again”.
Many career-placement directors at top B-schools are telling their students to steer clear of video altogether for now. The reason? While the YouTube generation—the so-called “Millennials” who were born after 1981—might be embracing video résumés, it’s the Baby Boomers who are still doing most of the hiring. “Boomers aren’t going to watch them”, says Everette Fortner, director of career development at the University of Virginia’s Darden Graduate School of Business Administration.
Business school career counselors are also wary because of the unprofessional tone of some videos. In the fall of 2006, Yale student Aleksey Vayner sent his video résumé, called “Impossible is Nothing,” to investment bank UBS, and the video quickly found its way to YouTube, where it was mocked, spoofed, and made Vayner the laughing-stock of Wall Street. The lengthy video, which had Vayner waxing poetic about life, breaking bricks with his hands, and dancing with a half-dressed woman, became the epitome of how not to do a video résumé. It has led some people—especially those in B-school—to shy away from the medium entirely.
A Sense of Presence
One of the résumés on YouTube belongs to Allen Ulbricht, a 2003 graduate of Georgia Tech’s undergraduate management program, whose video has him dressed in business casual attire and responding—as naturally as possible—to likely questions for a Web 2.0 gig to which he was applying in December, 2006.
Now the owner of Real Nice Software, which creates custom software for small businesses, Ulbricht says he pulled himself out of the running for the job but is sure his video, an adjunct to his traditional online résumé, would have given him a leg up on the competition. Video will become an expected part of the job application, says Ulbricht, even if it will never replace traditional, written résumés.
Still in their infancy, video résumés have caught on with the creative and with other young people who want to show off their skills—either because of the visual impact or to make up for lack of work experience. “Video résumés animate a job seeker in ways that traditional paper media can’t”, says Mark Oldman, co-president of the career site Vault.com in New York. “You can really get a sense of one’s professional presence, poise, enthusiasm, and passion”.
Old School Mastery
Recruiters are less resistant to videos than business-school administrators seem to think. In a recent Vault.com survey of employers, 31% of respondents said they would watch a video résumé if one was sent to them, and 58% said they might check out a video out of sheer curiosity. And many companies are using online-video technology to educate candidates about their culture and job openings, says Mareza Larizadeh, 2006 Stanford MBA graduate and co-founder and company president of Doostang, a social and professional networking site primarily for MBAs.
Technology companies seeking business-minded employees are among the first recruiters to consider video from applicants. Ray Schreyer, program manager of Internet recruiting for IBM (IBM) in Charlotte, N.C., says video, if done in a professional manner, is a welcome addition to a digital résumé but should come only after a candidate has been thoroughly screened. “Video résumés are icing on the cake,” he says. “But we still need the cake” (see BusinessWeek.com, 5/7/07, “The Art of the Online résumé”).
Many recruiters remain cautious, though. Cindy Fiedelman, vice-president of talent management at Avaya (AV), a company that designs, builds, and manages communications networks, says video is likely the way of the future, but first companies will have to create ways to standardize the material and ensure equal opportunity for all candidates. She adds that job applicants should first try to perfect the traditional résumé—show how much money you generated for the restaurant when you worked as a bartender instead of just writing that you poured drinks, for example—before moving on to video (see BusinessWeek.com, 3/13/07, “The Way to a Winning Résumé”).
Although there are still no official rules about what a video résumé should look like, career sites are slowly creating standards. Internet job search service CollegeGrad.com, which caters to undergrads and recent graduates, recently launched VideoSnapshot, a template that members can use to record a video to send as an attachment to their traditional online résumé.
Recently Vault hosted a contest for aspiring Wall Street analysts, who vied for a chance at a prestigious internship by creating a video résumé (see BusinessWeek.com’s slide show, “Job-Winning Video résumés,”). The images from the contest reflect what most experts are saying about video résumés: Job candidates should dress professionally, refrain from scripting their words, speak clearly, stick to talking about their qualifications, and keep it short.
Both sides of the argument about video résumés are using time as a major factor in the debate. Those in favor of video say employers can save time by using video to replace the first round of interviewing. Those against video say this new technology just adds another step to the initial search for candidates. They add that the written résumé allows human resources staff to do keyword searches and quickly eliminate applicants who don’t meet minimum requirements.
Some experts say video résumés could invite lawsuits, because employers would be able to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, and ethnicity in the screening process. However discrimination can happen during the face-to-face interview too, says Char Bennington, senior associate director of career management at the Chicago Graduate School of Business. But Bennington adds that employers want candidates to at least have equal footing during the initial stages.
Others argue the exact opposite, and say that video résumés are the only way that candidates, regardless of their geography and B-school, can open the gates of opportunity. “Video résumés level the playing field for those who aren’t at the Stanfords or the Harvards by eliminating the need for robust on-campus recruiting,” says Vault’s Oldman.
Most experts agree that technology will continue to change the job application. The written, online résumé will survive because the keyword search is a convenient screening tool, but it will be joined by things like podcasts, online portfolios, and of course video (see BusinessWeek.com, 5/7/07, “The Art of the Online Résumé”).
Michael Lawson, a professor of economics and the senior associate dean at the Boston University School of Management, envisions a multimedia résumé that would start with a one-page online document covering all the basics—from work experience to education—with hyperlinks to video and other relevant Web content. He and his colleagues are creating templates for such résumés now, and plan to share them with the next incoming class of MBA students.
Eventually, say some, video will enhance the online résumé. “I can’t see my kid one day applying for a job with only a black-and-white piece of paper saying, ‘This is the best representation of me,'” says Nick Murphy, operations manager of WorkBlast.com, which offers a video-résumé option to its job-seeking members. In other words, MBAs could soon be joining undergrads in making sure that their Web cam captures their good side.
Di Meglio is a reporter for BusinessWeek Online in Fort Lee, N.J.