Technicolour glory: The rise of the video CV
Traditional CVs may be full of useful information, but their restrictive format allows little in the way of personality to shine through. The video CV looks set to change all that
Remember the song Video Killed the Radio Star released in 1979 by The Buggles? It highlighted the glory days of the radio songster, who was left behind when the phenomenon of the music video and music television took the world by storm.
The evolution of video did not stop there. In the 21st Century, it jumped ship to the internet and found a loyal fan base among millions of users as a means for the rapid creation, sharing and consumption of entertainment and information on sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Bebo.
In 2008, it looks set to compete with yet another longstanding tradition, the initial face-to-face interview.
A new, online approach to jobseeking called the video CV has been heralded as the next big thing by international recruitment websites like MonsterIndia.com, Lookfirst.net, TalkingCV.com, VisualCV.com and Tecopeople.com for some time now.
It aims to cut out the first-round interview by allowing graduates the opportunity to upload their CV and a 60 to 90-second video clip onto an online recruitment database. The clip features footage of the candidate talking directly to camera while promoting their specific characteristics, transferable skills and qualifications, as they would do if they were at a normal job interview.
The video CV also serves as a pivotal time-saving exercise for employers. They can eliminate first-round interviews and, at the click of a button, shortlist those who meet their criteria and move swiftly on to the second round.
CVizz.com is an Irish-run website offering the video CV as part of its remit. Established in 2007 as an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up business, it is the first CV database of its kind in the country to be created with the employer and third-level graduate’s recruitment requirements in mind.
Based at Nova, University College Dublin, the site went live in February and continues to gather significant strength.
Marie Carroll, CEO of CVizz, says the database is specifically targeting graduates of the YouTube generation.
“Today’s graduates and interns are internet savvy, so making a video and uploading it onto a website comes easy to them. CVizz is now tapping into this phenomenon, while also allowing graduates the opportunity to present their CV in a format employers can easily use.”
She adds: “Graduate recruitment is very fragmented and, from an employer’s perspective, can be very time-consuming and costly. This process helps to source candidates and differentiate between graduates with similar CVs. It fine-tunes the process.”
The video footage also gives employers an insight into a graduate’s personality, interests and softer skills, which are important in selecting the right candidate. It also allows them to focus on ‘transferable skills’, while enabling graduates an easy transition from college into the workforce.
Carroll says uploading a CV and video content is quite simple and can be completed in three easy steps. Firstly you register your details, then you upload your CV using an online builder that guides you through the essential information fields in a series of drop-down boxes. Finally, you use a webcam, digital video camcorder, digital camera or even mobile phone to capture your video clip and upload it onto the site.
“Full instructions for uploading from the aforementioned devices are available on the site in both the help section and in an instruction video.”
This process may sound easy from a younger graduate’s point of view but how complicated would it be for more mature graduates?
Ciaran Williams of Manpower Mature says: “Naturally, many older candidates may not be as adept at the technical side of creating and uploading their video applications but we must not underestimate them either.”
Carroll adds: “We help graduates overcome any inhibitions through a series of video clinics on university campuses; we will be hosting more in the coming year as part of our ongoing marketing campaign.”
Put to the test
One employer with few complaints about this recruitment method is Pat Chambers of Qtier Software Ireland. He previously used the CVizz site to recruit IT and business graduates and says it helped him to eliminate a number of difficulties associated with identifying or hiring employees in the traditional face-to-face manner.
“When we used a normal recruitment agency, we generally only got a few candidates to interview and it was very expensive. The online video CV has 24/7 availability, and is a positive addition to the overall cost effectiveness of the recruitment process.”
Chambers is not the only person impressed by this technology. Paul Mullan, a career coach with Measurability, says this system has considerable advantages in promoting jobseekers’ strengths.
“Unlike a normal CV, it allows the jobseeker to get their personality and positive attitude across on camera. Don’t forget, in a normal recruitment process, many employees are rejected without the opportunity to even meet or speak to the employer. So it is an excellent way of adding the personality dimension to your CV.”
He adds: “Ten years ago, there was no email and we were using faxes to send CVs to clients. Things have developed dramatically since, and the video CV is the next step forward — especially for graduate, high-volume and international recruitment.”
When applied correctly, Mullan says the video CV can also benefit nervous applicants who might not fare well at a regular face-to-face interview. “You can rehearse and retake your video CV clip many times if necessary before uploading it, whereas you only get one shot to impress an employer at an interview.”
He stresses, however, the importance of treating your online clip like a normal job interview. This includes dressing in professional attire and behaving appropriately when shooting your footage.
Of course, video CVs just represent the first stage in securing a job, and the traditional interview is likely to remain the linchpin of the whole process. “Securing the best person for the job has as much to do with qualifications and ability as it does with personality and interpersonal skills,” says Williams.
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
In 2006, a Yale student called Aleksey Vayner became a laughing stock when he accidentally sent his video CV — intended for a prospective employer — to hundreds of employees on Wall Street.
The seven-minute footage started with Vayner talking straight to camera and following the etiquette of a professional interview, albeit in an incredibly confident manner. He described himself as ‘a model of personal success and development’ and quoted motivational slogans such as ‘failure cannot be considered an option’ and ‘impossible is just someone’s opinion’ as part of his script.
However, he then strayed from the acceptable template of a video CV to include shots of him playing tennis, lifting weights, breaking bricks with his bare hands and ballroom dancing with a rather scantily dressed female — not exactly the most professional approach to bagging a job!
Marie Carroll, CEO of CVizz.com, suggests a simpler approach to your video CV. “Start with a one-line introduction about who you are and what your No 1 strength is. Most decisions are made in the first 15 seconds of the interview, so you want to catch an employer’s attention here. In the body of your script, pick three points that make you stand out. Employers are looking for your core or transferable skills.
“If you don’t know or are unsure what your strengths are, simply ask your friends, tutors or family members. You’ll be amazed what others can tell you about yourself. Conclude by re-emphasising your best strength and how it would be of benefit to employers.”
In terms of staging your clip, Carroll recommends opting for a clean and fresh appearance, making sure your face is well lit and eliminating any distracting background noises. She also recommends using an evenly lit white background, as it gives a professional look.
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