Turning to video to help you land a dream job

/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Louie Bernstein lost his job as a general manager for an Atlanta computer company on Feb. 2 and immediately decided an ordinary résumé wouldn’t cut it in this job market.

So Bernstein, 57, turned to YouTube. He created an eight-minute video of a mock interview using his camcorder. He wrote the script and had his son play the role of interviewer, and he now sends a link to the video along with his résumé when applying for jobs.

“My wife thought I was crazy spending time on this when I should be doing the traditional stuff like networking,” he said. “But I need to do something that stands out and separates me from the average bear.”

Videos can set some job hunters apart, especially in a tight labor market. And a growing number of employers are actually turning to video to interview far-flung candidates.

That means you may have to get your Fellini hat on, or at least start thinking about how videos can help your career.

While Bernstein hasn’t gotten an interview yet, his video has already been viewed more than 100 times.

Landing a job
But other job seekers have found success with videos.

Take Eric Romer. He heard about a marketing manager job at razor company HeadBlade via Twitter and decided to set up a blog called “Hire Me, HeadBlade,” where he included a YouTube video of himself shaving his head with the company’s product.

“I got a response within 24 hours, and the founder/CEO flew me out to interview less than a week later,” said Romer.

Todd Greene, HeadBlade’s CEO, said: “When I saw Eric's head shave video, I knew that he is, indeed, a HeadBlader.”

Romer started his new gig in Culver City, Calif., on Jan. 18.

While some hiring managers shun the often amateurish mini movies, others rave about them.

“It’s virtually impossible to get an impression of someone from a résumé, and videos have saved us so much time in the screening process,” said Heather Logrippo, owner of Distinctive Homes magazine. 

So many people look great on paper, she said, but when they show up for an interview, they don’t match what they put down in their résumé and cover letter.

“It allows us to see how a candidate articulates themselves, dresses, communicates, nonverbal signals come across well, and we don't have to go through an entire interview process, like a bad date, if our first impression is unfavorable,” Logrippo said.

One recent 30-second video sent in by a job candidate really impressed Logrippo because it targeted her company.

“He talked about why he wanted to work for my company. He did his research. I was impressed by that,” she said.

Potential pitfalls
Greg Garrison, president of vrecruiting for Austin, Texas-based vcfo, a national recruitment firm, cautions against potential problems inherent in video résumés.

First, discrimination issues can arise because now a hiring manager can see the candidate’s skin color or race. Also, few human resources professionals have time to view these videos, whereas a résumé takes only seconds to scan.

A video can also doom your chances at landing a job.

“We had a guy send in a video, and he was in a tank top and athletic shorts. He was applying for a mid-level job, and he was talking about this golf game and that he likes to go to nightclubs,” Garrison recalled. “We all snickered at it.”

The key to a good video, he said, is “coming across credible and clever.”

Clearly, shaving your head in a YouTube video — or doing a video at all — may not be right for every job or job candidate, especially since so many people don’t feel that comfortable in front of a camera.

But you may be asked to talk to a camera soon whether you like it or not. Video services like Skype and HireVue are being used more and more by employers as a way to check out job candidates.

Zappos.com recently began using Skype to conduct candidate interviews.

“We spent a ton of money flying candidates in for a day of interviews and were thinking of ways to cut costs,” said Christa Foley, recruiting manager for online shoe company Zappos. “And some people have a tougher time expressing themselves over the phone. If you can see them, it’s a different experience. You can read their body language and see their expressions.”

She offered some advice to job seekers who may end up on the other end of a video interview:

  • Find out the dress code of a company and dress like you were going to do an in-person interview.
  • Sit in a well-lit room.
  • Remove clutter.
  • Don’t have dogs and kids running in the background.
  • Make eye contact.
  • And do a practice call with a friend.

For public consumption
If you’re posting a video of yourself on YouTube in order to land a job, you’re definitely putting it out there for the world to see. A hiring manager might also come across personal videos of you on Facebook, or a on blog, by Googling your name.

It might be a good idea to beat them to the punch and create your own video so that it will come up first in an online search.

But keep in mind that poor-quality videos, or ones where you don’t come off looking or sounding good, are probably going to doom your chances for a face-to-face interview, human resource experts said.

If you want to create your own video, there are several things you should keep in mind, said Kurt Weyerhauser, managing partner at executive search firm Kensington Stone.

“This video then can be viewed by any number of people at the hiring company, including the hiring manager. The main issue here is to understand how and by whom this information will be used,” he said. “It makes it even more important that the responses you provide are ones you can live with and would be proud of if ever they were to be made public.”