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Video Resumes and Other Tools

A new trend standing out in the job hunting crowd is personalized resumes everything from video recitals of your qualifications to business cards that will put your children’s fanciest art projects to shame. Before you invest time and money, consider that many of these gimmicks may help and hurt your chances.

Video Resumes

A fancy production helped the character Elle Woods get into Harvard in the movie “Legally Blonde,” but the same luck isn’t likely for most of the rest of us. There are 4,000 video resumes on YouTube, and several new job search sites are host to thousands more. Some video resumes are very professional; others are rough around the edges, and some use humor to grab attention.

We’ve learned, however, that many of these video resume makers have not received job offers, despite their creative innovation of standard resume tactics. Beyond that, many employers forbid their managers from viewing them, since there’s a risk of basing a decision on appearance and theatrics, more so than qualifications.

This case of first impressions came up with entrepreneur Sean Combs, also known as P. Diddy. He put out an ad for an assistant on YouTube, and within days, received more than 10,000 entries. He had to issue an update after the first enormous batch of video resumes he received. He indicated that applicants must be able to read, write, count and have some sort of skill. In other words, theatrics and bling, alone, wouldn’t suffice.

The bottom line is that video resumes are a novelty whose time has not yet come in the recruitment process. If you’re job searching now, creating a video resume that targets a broad audience is not worth your time. If, however, you want to give it a shot – and you have the time – we recommend as a useful service. It probably won’t hurt your chances of snagging a great new job – and it may even put you one step ahead of your competition. This is a visual, not video, resume. Don’t include a photo if you’re job searching. It can work against you, no matter how gorgeous you are.

Employment Recruitment Videos

These are great! They allow you to learn more about a company and its culture and needs before applying. The more you know about a company, the better armed you are in determining if it’s the right place for you. You can find such videos on company Web sites or even on sites like YouTube. Home Depot’s Web site features such videos, and the company’s hiring managers say that applicants walk in the door more knowledgeable about the positions they’re seeking due to the “real world” depicted in these videos.

Video Interviewing

Using video conferencing technology, distance need not be a barrier to interviewing for a new job. This is true for college campuses and for professionals. An employer in California can interview students on a New York college campus without ever leaving his or her headquarters.

For professionals, by the time a company has agreed to interview you by video, which is often done by sending an applicant to their local Kinkos or other such outlet for a video hookup, they’ve made a determination that you have the skills or experience they’re looking for. That’s a position of strength as you enter the interview process.

Photo Resumes

A lot of older workers, who are afraid that their extensive work history will read as “old” or “out of date” to employers who may be younger than they are. They think that a picture portraying them as young and vital will counteract that idea.

Instead, many recruiters I’ve talked to admitted that they perceive the use of photos as too egotistical or focused on the wrong things. A few even said to me, “Oh, that beauty queen is awfully full of herself with that photo.” Is that fair? Probably not, but unless you’re going for a job where you’re being judged on your looks, make your qualifications the center of attraction.

Nontraditional Business Cards

Size does matter. Over- and undersized cards are inconvenient for the receiver. They don’t fit anywhere easily, so they are the first to get thrown away or lost. That defeats the whole purpose of trying to stand out and be remembered.

Using colors and graphics to make your card stand out is a great idea. If you want to use a photo, this is the place to do it. Staples stores have a service where you can customize business cards in just 30 minutes, so there’s no excuse not to have cards handy when networking.

Gifts and Gimmicks

When looking for a new position, we all want to stand out and get noticed, but in the right way. A recruiter told us that he received a shoe box with one shoe along with a note that said, “Please let me get my foot in the door.” It was pretty clever, but in the end, that clever idea didn’t pay off because the shoe sender was under qualified for the accounting position to which he was applying, a position that doesn’t really require creative or aggressive business tactics. Had this tactic been used for a public relations or marketing job, it might’ve yielded a successful result because those are fields that require creative thinking.

Here’s a great success story that’s now part of Good Morning America lore:
Anthony Underwood’s internship was winding down around the time of the holidays and Underwood was looking for a way to extend his stay. He ingeniously had his resume printed on napkins during a potluck party, and the bigwigs were so impressed with his creativity (or perhaps it was his homemade white chocolate bread pudding) that they hired him full time.

Bottom line: Know your audience, but don’t assume a gimmick can compensate for true talent.