Video Resumes: Let the Applicant Beware

Video Resumes: Let the Applicant Beware

By Caroline M.L. Potter, Yahoo! HotJobs

In 2006, a video resume was circulated to a large investment bank. The applicant did not receive a job offer, but he did receive an online public flogging after the resume made its way onto YouTube and into the snarky hands of the clever editors at Gawker.

Aleksey Vayner, then a senior at Yale, boasted in his video resume of his extensive athletic prowess and ballroom-dancing abilities and shared his personal philosophies including, "Impossible is nothing."

After the media maelstrom his video resume sparked, you'd think that the format would have followed the Betamax into oblivion. Yet more companies are producing and hosting such videos for job seekers -- many of them well intentioned, yet poorly produced. (See YouTube -- at your own risk.)

But will hiring managers think a video resume is a good idea?

Not a Hot Trend

According to a survey released by Robert Half Finance & Accounting, most companies do not even accept video resumes, with a scant one in four respondents revealing that their employers utilize them.

Lauren Milligan, founder of, says that's because video resumes are a bad idea. "Because of [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission]-compliance issues, applicants shouldn't even put their photos on a resume let alone submit a video resume of themselves," she says.

Max Messmer, chairman and CEO of Robert Half International, agrees that employers are reluctant to accept video resumes for fear of bias claims from applicants. "Before submitting a video resume, job candidates should check with the hiring manager to ensure the company does not have a policy against their use in evaluating candidates," he says.

Check Employers Before Investing

In fact, before you have a video resume done, create a list of your target companies to determine if any would view your submission. Even if a few will accept a video, ask yourself if it's going to help or hurt your chances at employment.

"Most video resumes are just these one-sided conversations that attempt to sum up everything about a person in two minutes," says Milligan. "The problem is, you don't know what a potential employer really wants from you, what their goals might be for you within that organization. You could be putting the wrong message out there."

Try Online Avenues

If you're hung up on raising your profile and personalizing yourself to a target company, why not simply raise your online profile? Milligan suggests beefing up your presence on LinkedIn and other networking sites, such as Facebook and BeKnown. You might also start a blog about a professional passion.

"No one has come to me yet and said, 'I want to do a video resume,'" says Milligan. "It's been more of, 'Should I do a video resume?' People want to use every resource, and they don't know how dangerous this one can be in comparison to how helpful LinkedIn is, for example."

Don't Ignore the Basics

Messmer believes that while it's important for applicants to distinguish themselves, it's best to focus on the basics to stand out. He says, "Writing error-free resumes targeted to each job opening, crafting customized cover letters that succinctly explain why you are the right person for the position and maximizing every opportunity to network with others in your field can often be the most effective strategies for getting hired."

Milligan adds, "We'll see what happens in the next few years, but I still believe in written resumes."