Introduction to Video Résumés
What is a Video Résumé?
A video résumé is a short, 1-5 minute video that can be sent to potential employers as a supplement to a standard, written résumé. While video résumés might not be a common requirement for all job applications, they can be a useful tool for marketing yourself to potential employers.
Why Create a Video Résumé?
In a competitive job market, many job applicants worry about how to set themselves apart from other applicants. A video résumé can help alleviate this problem by connecting your skills and abilities to more personal factors like your appearance, expression, and voice. A video résumé can also show off your creativity and a strong understanding of digital media. These implicit characteristics of video résumés can distinguish your application from a set of similar applicants.
Despite the benefits of video résumés, there are many employers who will not accept video résumés. For one, since many video résumés include images of the applicant, some companies worry that judging candidates based on video résumés opens them up to claims of discrimination. Others don’t accept video résumés because they take much longer to assess than traditional, print résumés. A print resume can be scanned for specific points of information in seconds, whereas a video résumé might take a few minutes to mention the specific piece of information the employer is looking for. Always check with the hiring manager at a company before trying to submit a video résumé.
Video Résumé vs. Paper Résumé
A video résumé should not be used to replace a standard, paper résumé. When a job application asks to “include a copy of your résumé,” it will usually be asking you for a single-page document that summarizes the education, employment history, and experiences for the job to which you are applying.
The OWL resources on traditional résumés can be found here.
Having a completed traditional résumé document can be a helpful first step toward creating a video résumé, however, as you can use the skills and experiences from your traditional résumé as inspiration for your video résumé.
A useful way to think about the difference between a traditional, paper résumé and a video résumé is that the purpose of a video résumé is to enhance key aspects of a traditional résumé. In other words, while traditional résumé formats may require you include all of your skills and experiences, a video résumé allows you to choose one or two skills or experiences and exemplify them in a visual, creative format.
Planning Your Video Résumé
Video Résumé Styles
There are many different approaches to creating a video résumé, and video résumés vary widely in terms of the content and tone. When planning to make a video résumé you need to pick the right style for your needs. There is no perfect video résumé for all cases, and a video résumé that impresses a hiring manager for one job may confuse or upset another. As you plan your video résumé, consider the expectations of your profession, as well as specific aspects of your personality or experience that you would like to highlight. For example, if you want to demonstrate your media savvy you might consider composing your video résumé as a stop-motion animation sequence. If you want to demonstrate your knowledge of formal business conventions you might construct your video résumé as a set of clips where you speak seriously and directly to the camera in formal business attire.
It’s also important to recognize each style of video résumé requires a different set of skills. Some of the most popular video résumés are created with professional film equipment, or an intricate knowledge of animation principles. On the other hand, there are also video résumés that take little more than a camera and some creativity. Before you start shooting and editing your video, take note of the resources you have available, and how those resources may shape the types of video résumés you’re able to create.
In order to establish the best kind of video résumé for your needs you might answer the following questions:
- What are my goals for this video?
- Who is my audience for this video?
- What skills or experiences from my traditional résumé do I want to enhance or extend?
- What skills or experiences from my traditional résumé translate well for a visual medium?
- What resources can I use to construct this video?
- How do I plan to distribute this video?
Organizing Your Video Résumé
Though the organization of your video will change drastically depending on your goals, you should pay attention to these basic guidelines:
- State or show your name clearly within the first fifteen seconds of the video.
- Plan for a total time of two minutes or less (it will get longer when you shoot/edit).
- The longer your video, the greater the need to entertain the viewer with engaging visuals.
- Find your background music early in the process and use it to establish the rhythm of your résumé.
- Wrap up the video by thanking the viewer sincerely and concisely.
A storyboard is a tool for planning how the visual and aural components of a video will work together by representing each shot as a sketched image coupled with notes about how the camera will move and audio that will be included with the shot. Storyboards are a vital part of making an effective video résumé; what might take a few minutes to change in a storyboard might take a few hours to change after you’ve started shooting.
Here is an example storyboard might look like:
Filming Your Video Résumé
No matter what you include in your video or how you decide to organize your video, you will need some knowledge of basic video conventions. Though you may have watched many YouTube videos in the past, you may not realize the visual and aural methods that are used to create them. Anyone can record a video of themselves talking and upload it to the internet, but in order for employers to sit through your entire video résumé, you must obtain quality video and audio footage. Thus, the following guidelines are intended to help you understand the basic concerns for capturing video.
Choosing A Location for Shooting
While it’s easy to worry about expensive cameras, lights, and microphones, one of the most basic decisions you will need to make in the process of making your video résumé will be where to shoot your footage. If you decide to shoot outside you will encounter problems with changes in the wind, changes in the light, and other extraneous factors that can ruin your audio and video. If you decide to shoot inside you might struggle to find a location that looks neither too messy nor completely empty. If you can, shoot your video in a conference room or at a private study room at your local library to ensure that the lighting will be constant and the audio will be quiet. Above all, when choosing a location pay close attention to lighting and sound of that location, so you can anticipate any problems that may occur.
Though you may not realize it, every shot of video you see in the movies and on television is carefully balanced to help the direct the viewer’s attention. Though there is no hard and fast rule for how to frame a particular shot, you should be aware of the following types of framing and their particular uses. This is especially helpful for video résumés, as several popular examples consist mostly of the applicant speaking directly to the camera. Here are some examples of framing vocabulary you might think about when framing your shots.
The Rule of Thirds
In order to give each shot a sense of balance, many video professionals follow the “rule of thirds,” which is applied by aligning each shot using two vertical and two horizontal imaginary lines (see below). The focal point of the image, whether it be a horizontal skyline or a vertical human profile, is placed along these imaginary lines. We can see how this principles works in the image below, where the frame places the subject along the right vertical line. Notice how the subject’s head aligned closely with the intersection of the two imaginary lines, as this intersection signals an area of the image that is especially important.
Whenever you’re filming someone speaking, whether it’s yourself or another person, you need to balance the amount of space between the subject’s head and the top of the frame. As you can see below, too much headroom leaves the subject peaking up from the bottom of the frame. In the second image, too little headroom almost cuts off a small portion of the subject’s head. The third image not only give the subject the proper amount of headroom, but also places the subject’s eye line a third of the way down from the top of the image, following the rule of thirds.
A wide shot is a shot where the entire body of the subject is visible within the frame. This type of shot can be useful for establishing where the subject is in relation to the environment.
A mid shot shows the subject from approximately the waist up. This type of shot can be useful for giving the impression speaker’s frame before moving into a close up shot for an extended period of time.
A close up shot is comprised of only the subject’s face. When filming a yourself speaking for an extended period of time it’s often best to use a shot that’s between a mid-shot and a close up.
A cut-in shot features some action or activity going on away from the face of the subject.
This kind of shot often involves the subject’s hands writing, typing, or gesturing in some demonstrative way.
Also known as “b-roll,” a cutaway shot features something other than the subject that is used to visually reinforce the speaker’s point or idea. For example, if you will be talking about an experience where you volunteered at a homeless shelter, you might cut to images of you in the midst of work, in a group-photo with other volunteers, or even just a shot of the outside of the building where you volunteered. The key is to show b-roll while you are still talking in order to add some variety to the visuals in your video.
An establishing shot is a shot of the environment where a scene is about to take place. For example, if you’re transitioning from an outdoor scene to an indoor location you might show a shot of the exterior of the building or the outer door of the room where the scene takes place. Few video résumés use this type of shot, but you may find it useful for generating ideas.
One of the most basic tasks for shooting video is finding a location that is well lit. If the location is too bright, such as outside on a sunny day, you’ll likely quint through the entire video. If the location is too dark, as are most indoor locations, you might not capture the full range of color and contrast that you need to keep the viewer’s focus on your face. Likewise, in a darker location you may run into problems with unwanted shadows on the subject’s face and body.
If you are shooting your video résumé outside, be sure to aim your camera away from the light source, keeping your back to the sun. This may cause problems for shooting your video on a sunny day, as it would mean your subject would be looking directly into the sun. If you have no other option than to shoot at an angle to the sun, make sure the subject isn’t completely silhouetted, and that there are no major shadows covering portions of the subject’s face.
If you are shooting your video inside, make sure to bring as much light as possible into the room, as low-lighting may cause your footage to come out as grainy and low-quality. Also, check to make sure that the light you’re using does not distort the color of your subject, as some lights will tint your skin to look more yellow, blue, or green.
The best way to make sure you have good lighting is to capture some test footage before you start shooting footage you want to use. By playing this test footage on your computer you should be able to see if there is too much light, not enough light, or a distracting color of light.
No matter how well you frame and light your video, it will mean nothing if the audio is too loud or distorted beyond recognition. Good audio can be difficult to capture, especially with the microphone built-in to your camera. Aside from purchasing a 200 dollar microphone, your best bet is to adjust the environment where you record your video to collect the best audio possible.
Here are some tips to help you set up your recording space for the best audio possible:
- Shut off all electronic machines in the area, especially computers, printers, copiers, fax machines, phones, and even air conditioning. These machines will create a distracting “hum” in the back of your video.
- If you’re in a public place, alert those around you that you’re recording a video and that you’d appreciate if they remained silent for a few minutes.
- It’s better to make your audio a little too loud than a little too soft. Be sure to project your voice to the camera to make sure that your voice cuts through as much of the ambient background noise as possible.
- If you’re in a large room or a room without much furniture, you might consider hanging sheets and comforters close to the shooting area (but outside the frame of the camera). This will keep your audio from having a considerable echo.
Much like with lighting, the best practice for capturing quality audio is to capture some test audio before you start capturing anything for the final video. This will give you a chance to test your camera at a few different distances, and to make sure that there are no major sounds that are picked up in the background.
Editing Your Video Résumé
The editing software you choose to edit your video may be decided by the computer you own. Apple computers come pre-loaded with iMovie and windows computers come pre-loaded with Windows Movie Maker. While either of these programs can be used to produce a quality video résumé, you should be aware that both programs are built to produce a limited range of videos.
Windows Movie Maker
This program is very easy to use and is available on all windows computers. It can be used to create a standard video résumé where a speaker talks directly to the camera, and even some more artistic styles of video résumé, such as stop motion video résumé. The downside of the program is that it is very difficult to incorporate cutaway footage, so those hoping to include b-roll in line with a documentary style of video résumés will have a very difficult time.
This program is available on all apple computers and can be used to create a wide variety of videos, including many styles of video résumés. iMovie also has a clear tool for incorporating cutaway footage, allowing users to easily incorporate b-roll into their videos. There is a significant learning curve for iMovie, however, as it contains several complicated tools. The program also limits the number of concurrent video and audio files that can be incorporated into a single video, which may restrict the most technical video résumés.
Adobe Premiere, and Final Cut Pro are used for professional video editing, and can be used to create innovative new styles of video résumés. These programs are incredibly powerful and precise, but are difficult to learn. These types of programs are not necessary for the majority of video résumés you will produce.
Video Editing Workflow
Though you can technically edit the parts of your video in any order, the following workflow will allow you to complete the editing process as quickly and effectively as possible.
- Download all your images and videos to your computer and put them all in a single folder.
- Name all the files individually to keep track of them
- Import the files into your video editing software
- Color, crop, and resize all the video files before you start cutting them into smaller clips
- Check the audio of the footage and adjust the audio
- Cut each clip to the desired length and delete the excess
- Insert a title slide, a final slide, and transitions into the project
- Add any background music you may be using.
Distributing Your Video Résumé
Introduction to Rendering
Once you’ve completed editing your video you will need to export it as a video file. This process can take anywhere from ten minutes to six hours depending on the quality of your source video and the quality of the exported video. When you choose to export your video, your editing program will ask you questions about the aspect ratio (height and width of the video frame) and quality that you will use to export your video. Once your video is rendered it will be ready to distribute to employers.
The Importance of Distribution
Your method of distributing your video résumé will determine how employers find and watch your video, and there are many options available for distribution. Before you decide on one particular method, think about the goals of your specific video résumé, and the way you want your video résumé to work in conjunction with your traditional job documents. Do you want the employer to see the video before the rest of your materials? Does your video work as a stand-alone product? Do you want to distribute your video widely, or for a specific audience? By answering these questions you will have a better idea of what method to choose for distributing your video.
Ways to Distribute Your Video Résumé
The most basic way to share your video is to upload it to a generic video sharing site like Vimeo or YouTube. There is no guarantee that any employers in your field will find the video if this is your only mode of distribution, but it does increase the ability for your video to be shared with others. If you have a particularly impressive video résumé this might be the only method of distribution you need.
Many career networking sites, such as Linkedin, CareerBuilder, Jobster, cordon off specific sections for video products. By uploading your video résumé to one of these sites you will ensure that it is seen by potential employers. You will also have some idea of how the video résumé will be coordinated with your other job documents. However, some employers do not check these sites, as they will only look over the documents you send them directly.
Linked to Your Traditional Résumé
You might include a link to your video résumé somewhere in your traditional job application documents. You might, for example, include a link near the top of your résumé, where employers might see the link as they start to skim. You might also mention the video résumé in your cover letter and include the link as well. These methods give you more control over how your video résumé interacts with your traditional documents, but there is also a chance that employers might hesitate to open your link, or even miss the link altogether. Some employers may even be offended by your trying to sneak non-traditional elements into your traditional documents.
Sent Directly to the Employer
By emailing the potential employer a link to your video résumé separate from your other employment documents you ensure that the employer will not skim past your video résumé. This method also gives you greater control over the amount of time between when the employer reads your traditional materials and your video résumé. However, this direct method may also be the least professional way to distribute your video résumé, as it may seem as if you are being too forceful or pushy.