Counselor Commentary: Say Yes To Video Resumes

If you’re looking to hire a salesperson, what are the skills and traits you value most? Certainly, you want someone professional and hardworking. But you probably also would like to bring on someone who is creative and engaging – a person able to offer a great pitch, work a room and close the deal. Is it fair then to make a first judgment on a candidate based on a Word document? Because that’s what most resumes really are – a digital piece of paper. There is, of course, another, better way.

Why not ask candidates to provide a video resume to complement their application? It doesn’t have to contain a stylish setting or use fancy editing – good quality videos can be shot on a phone. You’re really just looking to see how job candidates present themselves. After all, salespeople have to make a good first impression on a potential customer. If they can’t do it in a short video, how can you trust them to do it when the pressure’s on?

As with everything nowadays, there are critics to this idea. Some think video resumes put too much emphasis on physical appearance. Others worry they incent candidates to lie about their skills or do crazy things on-camera to stand out. Some even say video resumes foster racial, ethnic, and age discrimination – issues that could lead to legal concerns for companies.

No, we can’t dismiss these criticisms entirely, but maybe we can agree they’re all a bit extreme.

Doesn’t physical appearance matter anyway during an in-person interview? Can’t someone embellish through a paper resume? And if someone doesn’t get a job, can’t he or she claim discrimination regardless of the application process? Oh, and by the way, if candidates do something crazy or edgy in a video, that’s a risk that could either get them noticed or get them crossed out more quickly. Talent is really in the eye of the beholder, no matter the lens we use.  

Again, video resumes shouldn’t replace the tried and true Word document. They should, though, become part of the hiring process and be another element an employer can use to get information and evaluate applicants. For whatever reason, if you’re hesitant to ask job candidates for video resumes, take a baby step. Ask intern candidates to send in a video resume, as sort of a trial run for your firm. Sure, you may get some silly entries, but you’ll likely get some creative ones, too. Maybe you’ll even find a top future salesperson – the one you’ve really been looking for all along.