All About Video Resumes

four Gen X coworkers looking at a laptop screen together
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If you haven't received your first video resumes from candidates yet, you will shortly. The buzz is growing and video resumes are the next "cool" thing to do. In fact, the conversation has already moved from whether to make a video resume to how to make a professional video resume to enhance job applications. So, employers will be seeing video resumes - whether they want them or not. And, most employers appear open to viewing video resumes. According to career publisher Vault Inc.'s annual employer survey:

"89% of employers revealed that they would watch a video resume if it were submitted to them. Although most employers have not yet used this new technology as an evaluative tool -- only 17% have actually viewed a video resume - the vast majority are receptive to it.
"The primary reason why employers would value video resumes is the ability to assess a candidate's professional presentation and demeanor (52%)."

What Employers Are Seeing in Video Resumes

As an employer, my understanding from other employers is that the video resumes they are receiving are fairly unprofessional and may turn them off to a potential candidate. Giggly spoken lists of skills or discussing non-work hobbies are not positively affecting employment opportunities. Nor does unprofessional dress and an ineffective presentation.

The other current employer complaint is the length of the videos. If an employer is interested in a candidate, after reviewing the resume cover letter and the resume, they might follow a link to watch a video resume for one to two minutes. According to the Vault Inc. study, referenced above, only 17% of employers have viewed a video resume. Take a look at Alison Doyle's advice for job searchers about making professional video resumes that are acceptable to employers.

What's Wrong With Video Resumes

From an employer perspective, I have several concerns with video resumes. In the United States, discrimination concerns and laws long ago discouraged applicants from sending pictures and personal information with the resume. So, employers need to consider several potential issues with video resumes.

Video resumes heighten the possibility of managers practicing subtle discrimination, because face it, no matter how much training and understanding exists in this world, most employers still tend to hire people who are just like their best current employees.

From a company cultural perspective, this may not be all bad, but from a diversity standpoint, it's just plain worrisome. And, many employers in Europe, and elsewhere, have never stopped requiring the candidate's picture and personal information with the resume.

The possibility exists, that in our litigious society, an employer can be accused of discrimination later because the video resume supplies information that you would not know about a candidate from a paper resume. Information, that in many cases, you don't want to know because the possibility for subtle discrimination exists as mentioned above.

However, career specialists identify that this same possibility of discrimination occurs throughout the employee selection process. As reported in E-commerce Times:

"Tyler Redford, chief executive of ResumeBook, acknowledged that employers and career centers have been skeptical, and fewer than a third of its users have posted a video resume, even though it is a core feature.
"However, Redford and other supporters believe discrimination could occur at the interview stage even without video resumes, so that alone should not deter job seekers."

Other attorneys are advising their employer clients not to accept or view video resumes because of the possibility of charges of discrimination based on age, gender, ethnicity, and disability.

"'Just don't even deal with them,' said Dennis Brown, an attorney in the San Jose, Calif., office of Littler Mendelson whose firm recently advised employers about the dangers of video résumés at a seminar."
"Brown's main concern with video résumés is that they reveal information about a person's race, sex, disability, age — all details that could wind up in a discrimination lawsuit. He believes that employers should stick to the old-fashioned paper résumés and avoid the potential legal hassles of video résumés ..."
"The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also has expressed similar concerns, noting that video résumés could also lead to the exclusion of people who are not tech-savvy, or minority applicants who may not have access to broadband-equipped computers or video cameras."

On the flip side, employers should have concerns about requiring a video resume. This would only be appropriate for a position in which presentation skills were required, or possibly, in fields that require a portfolio. So far, employers have not experienced the pain of a video resume lawsuit.

"No one has yet filed a major lawsuit for discrimination by video résumé. But George Lenard, a St. Louis, Mo., employment lawyer, can envision a case centered on 'disparate impact.' If an employer requires applications by video, then those without video cameras and broadband-equipped computers might argue they lacked access."

Finally, when the average resume receives a few second overviews, expecting an employer to add the time to the process necessary to view a video resume, is asking a lot. And, I don't even want to think about future lawsuits in which employers are accused of randomly viewing video resumes, rather than viewing every video resume they receive.

Final Tips About Video Resumes

A video resume can be helpful when you are screening applicants who might have to travel for an interview, but teleconferencing, meeting in Google+ Hangouts, and even the traditional telephone screen can minimize the distance factor, too. In our Internet world, many candidate screening options are available.

Employers are expected to practice non-discriminatory actions during every phase of the hiring process. Apply the same care and consideration to the video resume evaluation. Or, decide not to accept them at all; return any video resumes received with instructions to follow the application process you advertised, to create a valid application.