How to make an effective employment video

Here’s a question:  Should it be “effective” or “affective?”  Think about it.  “Effective” means that is will have the desired result – you’ll get the interview.  “Affective” means it will have a meaningful impact on the viewer.  I’m going with “effective,” but if you prefer “affective,” God bless.

So what’s the story?  Sooner or later, probably sooner, video resumes are going to become more and more prevalent.  I do not mean videos where the person actually reads or reviews their resume.   I guarantee no one will watch those!  But in a system like Purzue’s, where the video is “attached” to the paper resume, candidates have the opportunity to, in essence, make a commercial about themselves.

If you have read my book, you know that I am rather conservative in my approach in that I like playing it straight.  Always err on the side of conservative.  But that does not mean I am anti-technology and I am certainly not anti-creativity.  The opposite is true.  I now recommend, for example, that older job seekers include QR codes on their resumes to send the subliminal message that they are tech-comfortable.

Just as movies have to be age-appropriate, employment videos have to be company-appropriate.  What will work for IBM will not work for Google, and what will work for Google will not work for IBM.  But here are some rules to consider, as presented in and interview with Shara Senderoff, the cofounder and CEO of Intern Sushi, in this month’s issue of Fast Company’s:

  1. Talk about your values, don’t list your accomplishments.
  2. Have friends star in your video, but don’t let them sing your praises.
  3. Be modest; don’t brag.
  4. Showcase your skills, but make certain they are relevant for the position for which you are applying.
  5. And I would add to the list, keep the video ideally less than one minute, but certainly no longer than two.

Let me paint a picture, or video, for you.  And let’s assume that I am making the video looking for a position as a career counselor.

The video begins with an obviously nervous person (a friend) sitting at a conference table.  In a voiceover I say, “Based on my nine years’ experience, before I even enter the room I know that my client’s biggest problem is frustration.  She can’t achieve anything until she gets confidence and changes attitude.  And if I equivocate, she’ll hear what she wants to hear.”

Next scene: I’m sitting in the conference room across from the client.  She says, “No one will hire me.  I’m great.  But no one will listen to me.  I can do it all.  No one will give me the chance!”

Then I say, “The reason no one will hire you is that you say you are great, you don’t prove it.  Employers are interested in meeting their needs, not yours.  You have to focus on them, not you.”

Next scene is the smiling client, returning with flowers and chocolates.  “Bruce, you were dead on.  I started focusing on the employer’s needs, got interviews, and I’m starting my new job Monday.  Thank you!”

Then I say, “Career counseling comes down to listening and guiding the client to the correct path.”

The video has no self-praise in it.  All it has is a common scenario and how I would deal with it.

Of course, I could set up a series of videos for employers to choose from: Facing discrimination.  Long-term unemployment.  Veterans.  Being laid off.  Being fired.  But they would all have a similar format, just different friends playing the client.

The amazing thing is that with today’s technology, anyone can make a decent video.  You don’t have to pay a lot to make an effective, or affective, video.