Pros and cons of video resumés

Digital communication and video becoming 'more and more the norm'

The appeal and effectiveness of video resumés, for employees and employers alike, are not yet proven. The technology required, costs, concerns about discrimination and unprofessional efforts have painted the digital curriculum vitae as less of a bonus and more of a burden. But there are definitely some perks. Here are some of the pros and cons.

Time-saver: Video resumés save an employer time and money in the process of hiring people, says Mario Redicke, president of, a provider of online video resumé applications, based in Victoria. Typically, to screen just one person, HR has to scan and analyze resumés, make a pre-screening phone call and schedule an interview. A video resumé can shorten this process.

“Everything can be delivered in one package — qualifications, references, personality, demeanour and character,” he says. “Within a few seconds or minutes, a video resumé can let HR know if it should consider interviewing the person and what kind of fit he might have with the company culture.”

Employers also won’t waste the time of job hunters and hiring managers by having someone in for an interview who is not right for the job.

“This way saves time, ­money, hard feelings,” says Catherine Brownlee, president of Calgary-based search firm Prominent Personnel.

Pre-screening: Video resumés are incredibly informative and a valuable tool for pre-screening candidates, “from across the country and around the world,” says David Rosenblatt, Toronto-based president of WorldHR, global recruitment specialists. “A video profile, in conjunction with a traditional resumé, is much more informative and memorable than a resumé alone.”

The best videos are akin to a personal web page, with a small video player embedded into the online resumé so it can be viewed while the video streams.

“What’s amazing is that it takes just seconds for a person to form an accurate opinion about candidates from their video,” he says. “A short virtual profile is powerful, informative and memorable. It demonstrates language skills and displays other personal characteristics that can’t be gleaned from paper alone.”

Professionalism: While more people are making shorter, more professional videos, employers never quite know what will happen when they click “open.”

“It’s all over the board,” says Brownlee. “A lot of the Europeans are ahead of us, so their video resumés are extremely professionally done. From the (United) States, it’s more quantity than quality, getting onboard and starting to penetrate but not at a professional level. Canada’s been traditionally behind with things like this, more conservative in our approaches.”

But production experts capture people in their best light, she says, by coaching even the shyest candidates and providing support that can help later during the interview process.

“I would highly recommend to not even present anything that’s not professionally done, I would stick with the written resumé,” says Brownlee.

Technology: A video resumé can be presented to an employer through a dedicated YouTube page, a Web portal, an email attachment or a hard copy. But these are more complicated than the printed page and “filing” can be a challenge.

“It can be condensed in a way that it’s never an issue in email, however, you certainly wouldn’t want to have 500 attached to your system, it would slow it down,” says Brownlee. But it’s just for that initial presentation. “Once (employers have) met the person face to face, they probably wouldn’t need the video in their system any longer,” she says.

There’s no need for storage since proper video format should be to click on a link and watch, such as a web page, says Rosenblatt, and usually employers can print off the resumé part.

Cost: A professionally done video CV runs about $300, making it prohibitive for many jobseekers, especially if they have to customize each video for each particular job. But if candidates are careful, they should be OK, says Brownlee.

“Your best success story is very transferable to any position you’re going to apply to, if (you’ve) kept it generic enough.”

And digital communication is not going anywhere, she says.

“It’s going to become more and more the norm and the ones that unfortunately are not able to afford the video resumé will not have the same chances.”

Many jobseekers, however, are not prepared to pay for production services, says Rosenblatt.

“Unfortunately, most self-prepared video resumés are not very good, have poor production and content — which is detrimental.”

Bias: Although video resumés have become more common, there are fears of bias around skin colour, language skills or body shape. However, there should be no legal trepidations, says Rosenblatt.

“We’ve got legal opinions from top lawyers in the country — there’s no violation of using video resumés at all,” he says. “Our employers don’t have any issue with it.”

And those screening applicants should not reject people based on prohibited grounds.

“Just like you can’t discriminate if the person was in front of you, you can’t discriminate if you saw a video, based on those grounds,” he says.

Latest stories