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The movie Legally Blonde showed Elle Woods, a young woman wowing Harvard Law School with a video résumé outlining her unique and interesting talents. While video résumés are still not the norm, many wonder if the best way to differentiate themselves from others is to use video instead of the traditional paper résumé. While an effective video résumé can help a person seeking a job or slot at a prestigious college, there are definite pros and cons.
Job seekers are accustomed to making themselves look good on paper but it is harder to make yourself look good on video. Paper résumés make your case before you walk into the interview. It is easier for a recruiter or interviewer to forgive any fidgeting in person because your paper résumé has already told them that you have the skills for the job. If the interviewer has to sit through a video with several minutes of rambling dialogue, accompanied by nervous tics, and the sound of traffic or air conditioning in the background to be able to hear your skill set, you may not get to make your case before you lose the interviewer’s interest. Since video résumés are still new, there is no real standard set yet as to how these résumés should appear and how information should be presented. It can be easy for applicants to go wrong.
Additionally, video résumés pose a risk to companies that paper résumés do not, legal risks that have caused some companies to discard all résumés that are accompanied by videos. When some companies these days black out names on résumés to avoid potential race or gender bias among those who review résumés, video résumés open employers up to potential claims of race, gender and age discrimination—even how the applicant looks in the video résumés, in some instances, can clearly cause more problems for the applicant than they solve.
Additionally, if companies are reluctant on a legal basis to view the video résumés sent to them for specific job openings, such companies do not go to online video hosting sites to view video résumés in the hopes of somehow finding the perfect person for their job. They are even less likely to search online when it means sifting for job candidates amongst films of people’s pets and music videos.
However, technology has changed much of how people search for and get jobs, and as online video becomes more and more ubiquitous, some companies are changing the way they handle video résumés.  Job listing sites have combined forces with social networking sites, and online résumés in such venues are often combined with video résumés. Sites that specialize exclusively in hosting online and video résumés make it far more palatable for employers and recruiters to search for résumés.
Some companies have popped up to help interviewers and job seekers make the most of this new technology. These companies help applicants put together a professional, edited video. Some have contacts with specialized areas of the job field – engineering firms, non-profits, etc. – and can send your video résumé to companies interested in such résumés. Many employers are opening up to video résumés because in some cases they serve as the “first round” of interviews, saving the company money and time.
Properly used, video résumés can be an excellent format to showcase job experience as well as polished communications skills. There is still a novel aspect to video résumés so making still shows a willingness to embrace new technology and think outside the box. As long as applicants understand a company’s résumé submission policies, as well as ensure that their video is professional and in a venue a potential employer may frequent, it increases the chances this new form of résumé can help and not hinder their chances of finding employment.