A year after Aleksey Vayner’s video resume made him a laughingstock on Wall Street and YouTube, he’s still searching for a job.
“Negative consequences are still felt,” the 24-year-old wrote in a recent interview conducted by instant message.
While still a senior at Yale, the aspiring investment banker had pursued a position at Swiss bank UBS. Capturing Wall Street’s attention might not normally be easy, but Vayner did it — with his 11-page application, including a photograph of himself and the video resume. In the 6 minute 43 second clip, he bench-pressed 495 pounds, karate-chopped seven bricks and served a tennis ball at 140 mph, according to the captions. Despite the extraordinary achievements detailed in his application materials, Vayner landed no interviews — other than with the media.
Although Vayner's video resume is the most publicized flop of its type, many career experts warn that video resumes are usually a bad idea unless you are trying to get into show business.
"It's not a very practical way to gain competitive distinction," career coach and author Wendy Enelow said. "And in fact, it can totally backfire."
That's because some candidates use video resumes to show flair but end up making an unwanted impression.
We saw that with Vayner. Although Vayner's video resume appeared so excessive that it inspired a wave of spoofs, he meant it — for real.
Vayner said he aimed to convey the philosophy of his late martial arts teacher:
“Discipline is a virtue above all others," he said in the interview. "To be the best you have to be extreme, and the more you suffer, the more you get to fly with your own wings."
But many missed the message — and instead called him conceited.
"I was very upset that I was wrongly portrayed as an arrogant individual," he said. (Vayner, who has avoided media interviews in recent months, said he preferred to chat by instant message because he didn't want to disturb his ill mother, with whom he is living.)
Besides making the wrong impression, many candidates just don’t look professional on video. One applicant who posted his video resume on YouTube walks on screen, presumably after hitting the "record" button, settles into his seat and then finally gives his spiel. Others squirm in their chairs, flip their hair — and stiffly read from prepared notes.
"They could potentially be hurting their candidacy if the quality is not good," career consultant Barbara Safani said.
Career experts also say video resumes can put candidates at a disadvantage because they could risk being judged on things they can't control, like their looks.
"Once you introduce a video resume, you're opening the door to more bias," said Safani.
Video: Making the right video resume
“I wanted to get noticed and stand out a little," he said in an interview. "Another reason was to show that I’m progressive."
Yet despite the professional quality, the video has garnered him only one interview with an Internet startup.
Experts point out that video resumes rarely play a big role in the hiring process.
Some hiring managers don't even care to watch them. Lance Haun, a recruiter from Vancouver, Wash., says on-screen appearances don't help him make decisions about candidates for IT and marketing jobs.
"I don't care how good somebody is on the video camera unless they're actually going to be on it," he said.
Yet many job listing and career Web sites seem to be pushing video resumes for everybody. Many have devoted special sections to video resumes. Careerbuilder.com encourages applicants to show off their personalities. Vault.com claims video resumes could give you an edge in a competitive job market.
It's easy to see why: Ambitious applicants facing fierce competition want something to stand out from the crowd and land that dream job.
"Everybody is always trying to find an easy answer," Enelow said. "The only answer is hard work."
Working hard for that job
That means trudging to industry events and connecting in person — and gaining experience so your paper (or digital) resume proves you're more qualified than the next guy or gal.
Despite all Vayner’s troubles, he still sees value in video resumes. If he could turn back the clock, he'd make a different one that is more concise, he said.
But for now, he's lying low.
"The chances of anything I make going wire is far greater than any other candidate," he wrote, referring to another video turning into a viral hit.
As far as his future, he has reluctantly given up his dream of becoming a professional tennis player but still harbors dreams of Wall Street.
"As I trained for tennis, it became clear that the men's side of the draw is very deep today," he wrote on instant message. "And I also enjoy business and the financial markets too much to put it off for a couple of years."
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