In our first two articles in this series, we explored the origins of the CV and the importance of adapting the document to different jobs, as well as discussing some of the innovative alternative CV mediums that jobseekers and career changers employ to stand out from the crowd. Our penultimate article picks up the creative CV baton and takes things one step further, as we delve into the growing trend of Video CVs and consider whether this unique approach to articulating our employability can offer any benefits to intrepid jobseekers.
Did you hear the one about the Video CV?
Put yourself in the place of a recruiter from a medium-sized business with a growing brand – one particularly interested in attracting some local graduate talent. Four weeks ago, you published a job posting on various websites and you are excited to see around 50 applications. But one of the applications really sticks out with the opening line, “If you are interested in my skills and expertise, please read my CV and covering letter. If you would like to see the real me – please watch my video CV…” followed by a hyperlink to an online video hosting site. Within one or two mouse clicks, an inevitable connection is made between you and the applicant – a connection unlikely to be made with any of the other applicants.
More than just a gimmick: The evidence base for Video CVs
As with other alternative or creative CV mediums, there are a number of notable and high-quality Video CV examples available online, such as these submissions for the creative and digital sectors from Mark Leruste and Nick Belling. However, much like the ‘t-shirt CV’ or other innovative formats we explored in our last article, could these simply be outliers? As Jemma Smith explains in her Prospects article, Video CVs may typically be seen as more relevant for applications to creative or customer-facing roles such as those in Advertising, Media, PR and the Creative Arts (using a Video CV for traditional sectors like Law, Construction and Medicine may not always be appropriate). However, they can also provide jobseekers with an opportunity to showcase their social and emotional skills – or ‘transferable skills’ – such as communication and presentation skills, as well as creativity and expressing their personality to help them stand out in almost any industry. Jamie Mackay from MAKEMEAVIDEOCV comments, “We recognise that many employers do not specifically request a Video CV as part of a job advert due to resourcing implications. However, our research shows there is an increasing acceptance of Video CVs as part of an application, so long as the compulsory elements of the application are also submitted – for example, PepsiCo.”
But what do careers practitioners on the front line think? Mandy Green, Director of Aspiration at Bedford Academy, has previously facilitated a Video CV workshop in partnership with Jamie and feels that the format certainly adds a fresh approach to the topic of CV writing, particularly with young people – “Our students were very engaged with the format and we even had some questions, which is not always the case! Was definitely food for thought and highlighted how technology is impacting job applications and the importance of being open to changes. In my view, Video CVs are a great way for young people to both showcase talent and demonstrate adaptability”. This assessment points to the broader potential benefits of encouraging young people and older jobseekers to consider experimenting with Video CVs; namely, developing and enhancing transferable workplace skills like confidence, creativity, initiative and verbal communication, all of which are identified as valuable ‘21st Century Skills’ in publications from a diverse range of organisations, including the World Economic Forum and the Skills Builder Partnership.
Rewriting Recruitment – Moving with the times
In addition to some of the spin-off benefits of supporting jobseekers to create a Video CV mentioned above, there is also a more pragmatic rationale attached to this approach. According to a 2019 survey of members of the Institute of Student Employers (ISE), 47% of employers now use video interviews, often as an efficient way to filter applicants at an early stage of the recruitment process. Although there have been criticisms of the use of video interviews (particularly one-way videos) due to their somewhat impersonal nature and the potential for screening bias, their popularity remains. Moreover, preparing for this stage of a job application is becoming commonplace for many jobseekers; particularly students and graduates, and does at least provide individuals with the opportunity to put across aspects of their personality to an employer at an earlier stage. Indeed, combining the Video CV with a professional digital profile such as LinkedIn (which we will discuss in more depth in our final article of the series) can also yield additional opportunities via ‘head-hunting’ or the ‘hidden job market’, as an individual’s unique selling point becomes more accessible and open to a wider range of employers, recruiters and interested professionals.
Of course, it is not just recruiters utilising video technology as a means to support their work: use of video has permeated a wide range of industries, with mediums like webinars, screencasts and Reddit AMAs changing the way we interact with colleagues, clients and other professionals. The careers sector is not ignorant to these changes either, with organisations like the Open University Careers Service moving beyond platforms like Skype to repurpose webinar software for one-to-one guidance consultations, with split screens and live document editing enhancing the effectiveness of the traditional careers interview. And of course, the chief consumers of the advances in video technology have been young people themselves, with platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and most recently Tik Tok becoming staple apps and mediums for individuals to express themselves.. Given the prevalence of these platforms in popular culture and obvious benefits to employers of expediting the interview process, encouraging young people to explore the concept of Video CVs would seem to be a sensible approach; one that might help individuals develop another tool in their employability armoury.
Farewell to the CV? – From Video CVs to Digital Portfolios
Although it is difficult to provide a conclusive assessment of how successful a Video CV might be as part of a job application, the process of creating one clearly has a number of benefits for the individual concerned, from bolstering confidence and presentation skills to enhancing adaptability in the face of technological change. While certain individuals will understandably need additional support from careers professionals to access and make the most of this new format (from issues with anxiety and self-image through to low levels of digital literacy), it is hard to deny that helping individuals to better articulate their unique skills, interests and personality verbally, as well as on paper, is a worthwhile endeavour, particularly as employers look to diversify their workforce.
Whatever your thoughts on the efficacy of the Video CV, the genie appears to be out of the bottle as far as technology is concerned, and so it is likely to come as no surprise if the popularity of this medium continues to grow amongst jobseekers and employers. The same can already be said of the subject of the final article in our series, which focuses on the use of digital employability portfolios like LinkedIn and Globalbridge. As we conclude this series, we will examine how the aforementioned digital platforms can provide jobseekers with opportunities beyond the limits of the traditional CV and outline our thoughts on what the future holds for the CV itself. We are hoping these articles stimulate further discussion on the subject of CVs, so please feel free to contact us on LinkedIn or post your comments below the article to share your thoughts on the subject!
Chris is a registered career development professional and member of the Career Development Institute (CDI) and Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services (AGCAS).
Jamie is an employment expert with MAKEMEAVIDEOCV and a Skills Strategy Manager with the Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership.