Video Recruiting and Video Resumes
I think we are all in agreement that the methods by which we send and receive information has changed dramatically over the past ten years or so. Since we’re now all walking around with computers in our pockets it stands to reason that we’re going to communicate with each other differently, and much more frequently. The fact that there’s almost no incremental costs to sending emails, texts or web posts means we are now subjects to “information overload,” a term originally coined by Alvin Toffler in the pre-internet 1970 book Future Shock. It’s a state where we have difficulty understanding and making decisions about an issue when we have too much information about the issue, rather than too little. That difficulty gives rise to the need to TRUST the source of the information we’re getting more than ever, and like it or not we tend to base that trust on the personal characteristics of the communicator rather than on the content being communicated. And that’s where video technology comes in.
Now that award-winning movies, documentaries and TV shows are being made with inexpensive, highly accessible recording devices we have found ourselves in a new era where consumers of information often expect that information to be transmitted in a combination of moving pictures and sound. And at least for the time being that expectation is generally not being met in the world of recruiting and job seeking. Yes the use of Skype, Facetime and other such services have grown as important tools in the interview process, but in order to get to the point where people agree to take time to consider interviewing they first have to be persuaded to stop what they’re doing long enough to pay attention. That requires cutting through the information overload in a trustworthy, convenient and differentiated manner. It can be highly impactful to use brief video messages to communicate information about career opportunities as well as about candidates for important positions.
The bottom line is that people simply don’t want to read as much as they used to, and we can either embrace that notion or fight it. I believe that employers and employees who embrace it will be the winners in the evolving job market. First on the employer side: I work with hiring managers to craft a “search plan” to attract the most talented candidates with a pre-designated skill set, in the hopes that they will consider a new career opportunity. That means not only finding the right people who have those skills, but “tapping them on the shoulder” to get them to consider the opportunity. You have to develop trust in order to get someone to respond to that shoulder tap. One way to do that is through longevity in the industry, the “branding” of your reputation, and word-of-mouth referrals by trusted acquaintances – in fact, there is no substitute for that. That used to be the way employers and we recruiters relied exclusively to get call-backs from targeted prospects – “I’ve been around forever, you know me or someone that you trust knows me, so call me back.”
That method of recruiting worked great, and it still does. But now we have the option of adding video technology to raise that level of trust even higher, in an efficient, convenient method of communication. For every search I conduct I now create a one-minute video on my desktop where I describe the highlights of the career opportunity. The recipients of my messages more often than not get their information on their phone or handheld device, and it’s much easier to click one button and watch a video than it is to scroll through an email or job posting. They can get enough information to determine if they want to learn more, in which case we set up a call and I send them more complete information. (This is also easier on me because I don’t have to worry as much about my writing inadequacies . . .)
So if this works for recruiters and hiring managers, what about candidates and job applicants? They have an even greater obstacle to overcome in terms of the “noise” they have to cut through, in that each on-line job posting generates hundreds of unqualified applicants sending their resume in the hope that whoever wrote the posting didn’t really mean it when they listed the qualifications. On the candidate side of the job market, the use of “video resumes” is on the rise because of their ability to help people establish trust and to differentiate themselves from the hordes of other candidates for a particular job. Candidates can now create short video vignettes to replace their cover letter, which never gets read anyway, and in those messages they have the opportunity to explain their motivation and interests, and why they may be a fit for that particular job.
I’ve found that the most impactful candidate videos are those that are customized for a given opening, where relevant information can be added that’s not in the resume and may be important to the hiring manager for that opening. Examples include why you may be interested in making a job change, why you have made job changes in the past, and your interest in working for that specific company at that particular location and level (you can also include information about relocation and salary flexibility if appropriate). The link to the online video can either be embedded at the top of the resume or included in the email itself, and it’s a simple click for the hiring manager to see and hear the candidate’s story, as opposed to simply scanning the resume.
Websites like YouTube, Vimeo and others have made it simple to communicate our stories with the power of video and audio, and I don’t think we’re going back to other communication methods anytime soon. As these techniques become more common their power for differentiation will diminish of course, which is why we can’t rely on video alone for getting our message out. In fact, it’s more important than ever to consider supplementing the videos with “old school” ways of communicating for the very reason that they can be so unusual. For example, post-interview follow-up notes can be handwritten by candidates on Thank You cards and left with an office assistant before leaving the site. On the employer side, a nice hand-written welcome note from a hiring manager on a new employee’s first day can be very impactful in reinforcing the decision to take a job. The power of written correspondence sent via the US mail is often underestimated in business correspondence, and I’ve found that is helps in communicating the emotional element of a message.
Written correspondence is still crucial, and good writing abilities are among the hardest skills to find in the search for talented employees. But video technology as a core communication medium is here to stay. Because of its speed and efficiency video is an increasingly important tool for communicating information in the job market, but it also provides the opportunity to raise trust in a way that only face-to-face meetings can exceed. You don’t have to be a photogenic movie star or highly skilled method actor to make these short videos. You just need to be authentic and trustworthy, and willing to try something new. As always I welcome your comments and questions.