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Reflections of an Executive Resume Writer
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Are Video Resumes the Next Must-Have for Executives?

There has been a lot of talk recently in newsletters I follow and among my colleagues in various career professional associations regarding the pros and cons of video resumes. It also seems that at least every few weeks I receive an advertisement from some firm that offers video resume development services, touting them as the next must-have for employment candidates. But what is the reality?

In answer to a subscriber question, Nick Corcodilos of Ask the Headhunter recently responded regarding whether he thinks video resumes are a good idea. In addition to giving several sound reasons why they may not be, he also observes that those who are promoting them, including the media, are generally doing it because they see the phenomenon as something that could potentially yield them substantial revenues. They are not publishing genuine news articles, but most often what could be called “advertorials.”

Nick’s conclusion? “Should you submit a video resume? I promised you two reasons why not. Managers hate reading resumes. Do you think they’re going to settle in for the afternoon to watch you and 200 other ‘with it’ applicants on video? And what about the human resources department? Video resumes create a trail of potential discrimination based on how you look. If you’re going job hunting, don’t put yourself on camera.”

Despite all the hype in the media, there is little convincing evidence that video resumes work. MSNBC.com observed, “Experts point out that video resumes rarely play a big role in the hiring process. Some hiring managers don’t even care to watch them.” And we all remember the story of Aleksey Vayner, whose video resume made him a laughingstock on Wall Street and YouTube. A year after his video resume made its big splash, he was still searching for a job.

Vault.com conducted an online survey last year of 300 employer members, which indicated that 58% of respondents would view a video resume from mere curiosity, while 31 percent thought it would be valuable in considering job applicants. The legal ramifications made 15% nervous, with the biggest concern of legal departments being the potential for discrimination (or the appearance of discrimination).

Recognizing this issue, the EEOC developed and launched E-RACE (Eradicating Racism and Colorism from Employment), in February 2007. Advice for employers includes taking into account that not all of us perform well on camera, and that this does not necessarily correspond to job performance. It was also recommended to install filters prior to viewing—enumerating objective criteria associated with the job opening to be evaluated. Thirdly, the video resume should be viewed only after careful evaluation of all other documents received in connection with the application.

A recent Career Management Alliance E-Bridge points out that less than 25% of employers are willing to accept video resumes, according to a July survey by staffing services firm Robert Half International. A whopping 58 percent assert that they definitely do not want them. The remaining 18 percent are unsure what they would do with a video submission.

Complaints about video resumes include:

> They take too much time to view, while a standard resume requires only seconds to scan.

> There is a great risk of problems regarding legal compliance in the area of employment discrimination, due to seeing the appearance of a candidate before even thoroughly reviewing their qualifications.

> The record-keeping required could be extremely burdensome. Since all information considered in the hiring process can be asked for by the EEOC, recruiters and companies would have to archive all of the video resumes they received, consuming a tremendous amount of electronic data storage space.

Overall, the consensus seems to be that there is lukewarm response to video resumes, and that they are long, long way from either substituting for a traditional resume or becoming a must-have accessory.

That being said, there are situations where it may be appropriate to create a video profile, not as a rehash of what appears in your print/electronic document resume but as an adjunct to it that absolutely shines with personality, trumpets your brand, and puts forth a clear value proposition – a business case – for why your audience needs to get in touch with you personally.

It would also appear that it may be a good idea to get used to the idea of being on camera when you are looking for a job. The use of video in recruiting is becoming popular among HR professionals and recruiters. Video-on-demand interviewing requires the candidate to record answers to interview questions and e-mail the resulting file to those making the hiring decisions to be viewed at their convenience. There is great appeal for this method, as it saves on travel expenses and time, and expands the potential candidate pool to essentially anywhere in the world that a video can be recorded.