What’s the difference between and video resume and a train wreck?

Nothing!  That’s what!  Absolutely nothing!

I saw a video resume the other day.  It was the best video resume I’ve ever seen.  But for the record, I’m not a huge fan of video resumes (to put it lightly).  For the most part, I think they’re a huge waste of time, energy and euphoria.  Euphoria on the part of the candidate who sees him or herself on film.  And then wants to show everyone.  Here’s what I see when I watch most of them.  A train wreck.  And I can’t stop staring at you as you stare back into the camera – right at me like a piece of petrified wood – except for that smile at the very end that looks more like relief that this painful event is over.  Over for all of us.  Don’t you ever blink?  Don’t you ever stop blinking?  Or is that a twitch?  I can’t tell.  And I’m afraid to ask.  Congratulations for memorizing your elevator speech in three terse sentences, and then awkwardly talking about all of those accomplishments you list on your resume.  Verbatim.   And now you’re trying to be the cool, cavalier candidate who is the next superstar of the firm.  Hmmm, not sure if you’re going to get in the door with this one.

But maybe, maybe you can do it differently.  A couple things struck me about the above-average video resume I recently saw.  First, it had other people in the video.  Clients, employees, business associates who said a little bit about the candidate.  What it was like to work with him.  What it was like to work for him.  What it was like to be his customer.  What a great idea!  Second, it wasn’t simply a regurgitation of his resume.  It had crisp sound bites of relevant information.  It was also done in a very professional format that kept me interested.  It also had a tagline – like a value proposition – and while I think they chose the wrong one for this person.  It was a good idea.

Here’s what it didn’t have.  A reason to hire him.  After I watched it, I thought…would I hire him based on this video resume (if I didn’t know him).  Hmmm, not sure.  Would I take a meeting with him?  Hmmm, not sure.  Would I think he sounds like a good guy?  Yes.  Would he help an old lady cross a busy street?  Absolutely!

It would be an interesting test to send it around to some CEOs of companies and ask them if they would be compelled to have a conversation with this person.  That’s what you need to get out of your video resume or rather, your “promotional video” …because you shouldn’t think of it as a video resume.  You should think of it more like a movie trailer.  And the magic is to entice the audience to want to know more.  Think of it as a production that can make or break your career.   You need to be compelling.  You need to be relevant.  You need to give people an incredible reason to want to watch it and pass it on to all the right people.

It kind of reminded me of something that happened last week.  This past year, I haven’t watched American Idol as much as I have in previous years (along with everyone else I guess!).  But last week, I watched Crystal Bowersox perform a Frank Sinatra song.  I was so mad at her.  I was kind of mad at every one of the top five.  Their performances were so completely average (okay, maybe Lee’s was pretty good – but it could’ve been better).  It’s like they’re just trying to get past another week.  Is anyone in it to win it?  Don’t they know there’s a reason David Cook won by the largest margin of any American Idol final?  Because he was in it to win it!  Every week he was in it to win it.

Why do I bring this up?  Because it’s the same problem as the video resume.  I wanted my friend to have the greatest video resume ever!  I wanted him to be in it to win it.  I wanted to watch it and say “Oh my gosh, I need to forward this to every CEO I know and tell them “get this guy on your team….yesterday!!!”  But instead, I would be more likely to send to every CEO and tell them “if your mom is ever crossing the street, it’d be great to have him nearby.”

The video resume I saw opened my eyes to the possibility of how it could really be a game changer for a candidate.  If produced right, and then marketed appropriately, the candidate could easily have a whole host of interested parties – not to mention multiple offers.  They could probably have their pick of jobs too!  I really believe that.  But, the candidate has to be in it to win it.

And like this season’s American Idol, I don’t see anyone in it to win it yet.

One thought on “What’s the difference between and video resume and a train wreck?

  1. Molly, I recently learned of another approach which might add to that in-it-to-win edge. It uses a short video clip on a website, with the candidate discussing something that does NOT pertain to career/ search. The folks over at JobBait have started a weekly series on Fierce Job Hunting, and last week covered this topic. (It’s free and not a sales pitch.)

    Seems that adding your suggestions above to what they show there, would make a very powerful package. For someone who does all the steps.

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