should I create a video of myself and send it along with my job application?

A reader writes:

My question relates to gimmicks. I recently decided that I wanted to create an interview question video to answer some general questions. My reasoning was to (1) show that I can create modern content, (2) give employers a face to the name, (3) answer questions that they might have before they have to ask them, and (4) increase confidence in myself.

I read through the gimmicks section of your site, and I’m not 100% sure if this would fall into that category. Part of me says yes it does, because employers will ask me the questions they want to ask if they want to ask them. Plus, they may not have time to watch it. I also read what you said about the risk for being seen as discriminatory, which I hadn’t thought of.

At the same time, I thought it was a good way to set myself apart, especially in the world of technology. I also worked really hard on it and mostly got great feedback (except for one person). Am I just trying too hard?

Don’t do it.

It’s a gimmick, and the majority of employers won’t watch it. A few might, but far more will roll their eyes.

Most hiring managers are spending mere seconds on your resume before making a decision about whether to put you in their yes, no, or maybe pile. They don’t want to watch or listen to a video; they want to scan the parts of your resume that they want to scan, and they want to do it quickly.

Employers ask you for the information they want to receive, in the format they want to receive it in. In most cases, that’s a cover letter and a resume. If there’s compelling information that you want to give them at this point, put it in your cover letter; there’s no reason it needs to be in video format.

It’s annoying to submit things they haven’t requested or to decide that you know better than they do what will help them evaluate you.

At best, this will come across as embarrassingly naive; at worst it will come across as prohibitively naive.

{ 238 comments… read them below or add one }

  1. Marisol

    OP it sounds like this exercise could have merit on its own, for you to practice interviewing, hone your talking points, and as you mentioned, build confidence. You could make the video without submitting it to anyone, like writing the emotional letter that you never send. But definitely don’t distribute it to anyone.

    Reply
    1. NoMoreMrFixit

      God no, do NOT send this to anyone. Several years ago somebody did this and he didn’t do a good job. Ended up becoming a short term internet phenomenon as the video got passed around. The creator ended up a laughing stock.

      Doing it for your own use to see how you do in a mock interview is a great idea. We did that in a course on Recruitment and Selection last year in college. Very useful tool. But please don’t share it with anybody even if you create a professional quality recording.

      Reply
          1. calonkat

            SHOW it to your mother if you like. In person. Without her having the ability to share :) Ditto for any other relatives!
            (I may be one of the mothers who will share/post things about my daughter more than myself)

            Reply
    2. Beverly Cleary Doesn't Live Here

      Completely agree! This is a great idea to practice interviewing. It is extremely common for people, even great job candidates, to not come across as polished and professional in their responses as they think they do. There are a lot of “uhms” and “likes” that happen during interviews and I think this type of practice could really help out anyone who gets extra nervous when speaking. I mean, we TRY really hard NOT to hold these things against people. Pretty much everyone fumbles and gets nervous when in interviews at some point. It takes a lot of practice, experience, and confidence to get to the point of a flawless interview.

      But yeah, DO NOT send the video to them. Bad idea.

      Reply
    3. Jen S. 2.0

      Agree. Making a video and reviewing it is good practice for interviewing. But no employer ever, ever needs to see it.

      Reply
    4. AnonymousNow

      Distribute it to willing friends/family (not blanket distribution, but ones that you know want to help you) and get their feedback!

      Reply
  2. Falling Diphthong

    A textbook example of “If the headline is a question, the answer is no.”

    OP, my first thought on reading this was that when my son was 10 he could have created such a video working entirely in Minecraft. I think, while not usual, ‘Make a video of yourself answering a few questions’ would be considered a trivial request of most modern computer users. (And what Alison said–no one wants an extra step.)

    Reply
    1. PB

      “‘Make a video of yourself answering a few questions’ would be considered a trivial request of most modern computer users.”

      This. As a hiring manager, I wouldn’t be particularly impressed by a candidate’s ability to make a video. Also, my organization requires that we ask the same questions to each candidate, so even if you send me a video of answers to common questions, if you get to the interview stage, I’m going to ask you the same questions, regardless.

      Reply
    2. Doodle

      I’m actually wondering whether the OP is a recent student — I’ve noticed an uptick in “make a video that shows X skill” assignments. I know all of the high schoolers I know could do this easily.

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I remember my daughter and some friends (high school) doing some sort of scholarship contest where the submission was a 10 minute video of you explaining a science topic you cared about. Like a proto-TED talk.

        Reply
        1. Kathleen Adams

          The organization I work for just sponsored a contest on making a very short (1-3 minutes I think) video, with separate prizes for elementary school, middle school and high school.

          And those kids did some really great things, too! Which is cool, but OP, it does demonstrate that those skills aren’t perhaps quite as rare as you might be thinking.

          Reply
      2. Cobol

        There’s an implied conversation in the way he/she writes (the I think this because this part). I wish I could come up with a better descriptor because I’ve noticed it a lot with recent graduates, and think it’s something that has to go before anybody can effectively make persuasive written recommendations.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          The first paragraph is very school-essayesque (but that’s the way writing has been taught for a long time) and I think the OP will learn to smooth it out over time, but the logical structure isn’t bad.

          If it had been written, “Alison, I was thinking of sending a video introduction with my resume. I know it sounds a bit weird, but that’s part of the charm! I could answer questions preemptively and showcase my connection with our social media focused world. However, looking through the gimmicky section of your site, I’m concerned that it might not go over as well as I’m picturing – I realize it would require a significant investment of time on the HM’s part and it’s exactly current norms. All my friends except one love the idea, so I’m currently torn!” – it sounds a lot better but the flow of logical is exactly the same. I think X because Y; however, there’s competing evidence Z and we must also consider A.

          Which is what kids are taught in schools; it just takes a while for that to translate into sounding natural instead of forced.

          Reply
          1. Cobol

            Yes!!! I have complete confidence OP will figure it out. I’ve seen it take a week and I’ve seen it take a year. To me it’s a major step from being a recent college hire to bring a professional.

            Reply
            1. Marisol

              I think you misunderstand the nature of the OP’s question. She isn’t trying to be persuasive; she is asking for guidance, and to that end she is explaining her reasoning behind her question in a clear, simple way.

              I don’t agree with these criticisms. This blog has a question-and-answer format, and given that, I’d say an implied conversation is perfect construct to use.

              Also…if we’re not supposed to nitpick grammar, then surely copyediting the OP is equally uncool. Seriously, yuck.

              Reply
              1. Cobol

                I don’t think anybody nitpicked anything. Doodle wondered if OP was a recent graduate. I noted a writing pattern that I saw with recent graduates, and TL expanded. There’s no criticism, just like people telling OP they are in fact being gimmicky by doing a video isn’t criticism.

                Reply
              2. TL -

                Oh, I wasn’t trying to copyedit, sorry, just trying to say the OP clearly conveyed what she wanted to (her structure is very good) and it was only the phrasing that was catching Cobol’s eye!
                Sorry – I spend a lot of time thinking about how to communicate things and sometimes get lost in that. OP said what she wanted to just fine; everyone understood her. I just got distracted by a tangent.

                Reply
      3. Emma

        Are you talking about higher education students, e.g. college and university? Because my first thought was also that this sounds like a homework assignment with a bit of a fun twist – but something I would have done in secondary school. By the time I’d finished school and gone on to 6th form college, 10 years ago, the novelty of this kind of thing had worn off.

        Then again, I’m a grump about videos. If it’s an artistic piece, or something that’s a lot easier to understand with moving visuals, sure! But I’d always much, much rather spend 30 seconds reading some info than 3 minutes watching someone else read it… And video tutorials, oh god, throw them in the fire I’ll just figure it out myself.

        (I do wind up feeling uncomfortably like a hipster when I immediately get turned off a perfectly good product or service because they have taken 4:35 out of my life to express something that could have been covered perfectly well with six bullet points and an image gallery)

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          There’s a blog called something like ‘Things Never Said About Restaurant Websites.’ The theme being that restaurant websites will insist on having videos that require Flash, and on playing a background mood-setter soundtrack of quiet conversation amidst the clinking of china and cutlery, and generally trying to use a computer screen and speaker to recreate the exact ambience they picture in their head when they imagine ‘my restaurant.’ Meanwhile after all that stuff loads it still takes multiple clicks (if the information is there at all) to get to answers to questions such as “What are your hours?” “What is your address?” “Phone number?” “What is a typical menu–both food and prices?” Normal patrons want you to answer all those questions before you get to the history of the sous chef and the pictures of carrots.

          If something is supposed to be functional, the artistic extras need to not get in the way of that functionality.

          Reply
          1. Mallory Janis Ian

            Ugh, I don’t know how they are now, but I used to HATE architects’ websites back in 2008 – 2010 or so. I had an admin role that required me to get their email addresses and phone numbers, but that basic info was always hidden behind some artistic, conceptual BS that had to be navigated first. One site made my cursor disappear, and I had to click around until I discovered that I had to drag a red dot along the coordinates of an X/Y graph and drop it on the content I wished to view — excruciating!

            Reply
            1. One of the Sarahs

              the horror of having to navigate certain artists’ websites, where you have to drag the mouse around a picture to see if it will show you can open things. The picture of the artist in a frame is “about me”, their phone is contact details and so on – stuff they think is naturally intuitive, but is just really irritating aaargh!

              Reply
        2. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian

          The same idea is why I can’t personally get into podcasts or audio books.
          It’s so much faster to read it myself, instead of focusing on someone else’s monologuing about a thing for a long time.

          I’m a very visual word-based learner.

          Reply
          1. Emma

            I’m actually okay with audio stuff – I often listen to books when I’m cooking, walking, knitting, cleaning etc.; things that leave enough of my brain free to absorb what I’m hearing.

            Videos require visual attention too which is a pain, plus there’s a big difference between going after information and finding a video instead, and making deliberate space to gently infuse a story info my head :P

            Reply
          2. Falling Diphthong

            I like audio books for long drives.

            I cannot handle love scenes without cringing, though. Things that wouldn’t faze me remotely on the page are incredibly awkward when I am driving alone in the car, much less with husband and kids. You and I don’t know each other that well, narrator–show some decorum.

            Reply
          3. NotAnotherManager!

            I have to listen to audio books on 1.25x or 1.5x or otherwise I get exasperated at the amount of time it’s taking for the reader to spit out the words already. My mind also wanders a lot, so I end up having to rewind and relisten, which is much less of a pain with a book. I pretty much only listen to audiobooks in the car on long road trips.

            I enjoy podcasts, though. Most of the ones I listen to are conversations or group discussions, though, not monologues.

            Reply
        3. Artemesia

          Yeah — watching anything like this in real time is a drag. I once had someone film me on an international consulting gig and produce an hour of me presenting, touring, interviewing people etc etc — I found it boring and it was me and my trip. I would never watch something like this and it would reduce my interest in interviewing the person a bit.

          Reply
      4. Anonymoose

        And I think it depends on industry too. For example, if this video was available on a (professional looking) website or blog related to said industry, then no problem. But even creating a video and then – what – sharing it on youtube and listing it on your cover page? It’ll actually look so beyond not polished into cheap. So I think this could be successful but only under certain circumstances.

        Reply
    3. MillersSpring

      Even if you have created a video with effects and advanced editing, don’t do it.

      I’m a marketing executive, and I want candidates to have experience developing videos, and I’m saying don’t do it.

      Hiring managers do not want these. And even for the small percentage who might think a video is helpful, the risk is high that your particular effort won’t be effective. Don’t do it. And do not let any friends or family tell you that your video is the exception.

      Reply
  3. Leatherwings

    OP, I’m wondering who the people are that gave you great feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the video was good but I just don’t think it can be used for it’s intended purpose. So were the people who gave you good feedback on it people who are regularly involved in hiring processes? I find it a little worrying that at least a small handful of people reviewed this and only one person was like “don’t send this in.”

    That may be a sign that the people who are giving you career advice aren’t the best ones to be doing it. I learned this lesson myself when my parents sent back a copy of my resume that they had independently re-done with graphics and splashy colors.

    Reply
    1. Sami

      Thinking generously here, perhaps the feedback was only on the content and performance of the OP and not the actual act of sending it to interviewers.

      Reply
      1. Elle

        Yeah, which indicates that OP should probably get more targeted career advice because people who are looking at a video application and not thinking about it’s use as an application addition aren’t the people who should be giving feedback about anything related to job searching.

        Reply
        1. Kyrielle

          It depends! If someone asked me to review a video of them answering some interview questions, unless the way they asked or the content of the video clued me in, I might assume they were doing it for an employer who’d requested an interview video answering those questions.

          Reply
  4. BPT

    One point – when you ask most people for feedback, they’re going to be kind. I’m assuming you asked friends and family, maybe coworkers about this video? People generally have a hard time giving bad news or critical feedback to people they like and are rooting for. Plus, most of those people probably aren’t in positions where they’re hiring, so their experience is limited.

    It’s like when an acquaintance asks if they were rude (oh no! what you said was totally understandable) or wants to know what I thought of a dress they already wore (you looked great!) or tells me they’re not going to provide a full meal at their 5:00 wedding (well, I’m sure people will be fine). Unless it’s a close friend, I’m not going to get into it and risk offending someone. I’ll generally soft-pedal criticism and just stay out of it. So people might have said you did a great job with the video, but always take people’s feedback with a grain of salt, especially if they don’t have the specialized knowledge needed to really evaluate it.

    Reply
    1. Lily in NYC

      I dated someone who wrote a children’s book (never tried to get it published). He was very shy about it and finally asked me to read it and oh my god it was so bad. So, so bad. I told him it was great. It was not.

      Reply
      1. Elizabeth West

        I refuse to read people’s manuscripts for this very reason, among others. I even wrote a blog post about it. A lot of people cannot take feedback. Plus I’m haunted by Stephen King’s Secret Window, Secret Garden. “YOU STOLE MY STORY!” What if I accidentally do!?

        Reply
        1. Annie Moose

          Oh man yes.

          I’ve been involved in various online writing communities for several years now, and you start to get a feel for “this person is genuinely asking for feedback, even if it’s negative” and “this person just wants everyone to validate how great they are”. I hate to say it, but most people asking for feedback fall in the latter category. (even if they don’t mean to! Taking negative criticism well is a skill in and of itself)

          I have learned so many ways to politely tell people “thank you for thinking I’m a good judge of writing, but NO WAY will I give you feedback on your writing!”

          Reply
          1. Ramona Flowers

            Same. I mean, I made the mistake once of saying I’d read the thing and give feedback. Never again, ever.

            Reply
        2. Falling Diphthong

          I remember when Harry Potter was still coming out, and the things fans believed were incredibly original ideas that would only have occurred to them.

          And while that goes to basic storytelling tropes, it’s entirely usual that a unique name or minor twist lodges in the back of your mind, to be hauled out years later with no idea where it came from.

          Reply
        3. nonegiven

          I’ve had TV/movie writers in a chat group say that they never read fanfic or listen to someone’s idea for a show or movie just because they don’t want to accidentally use it 20 years later and get sued by you.

          Reply
        4. SimonTheGreyWarden

          Ugh. When I was younger and dumber, someone asked to hire me to edit their manuscript, and I agreed before I saw the work (that’s the dumber part). It was Twilight fanfiction written without any punctuation or line-breaks, no quotes around dialogue, no description of how anyone looked, etc. I actually ended up not being able to finish what I said I would do (I went in and broke up the single unbroken sentence that spanned 150 pages into separate paragraphs with periods and I put the dialogue into quotes) before I realized that what she was paying me was NOT worth the absolute trainwreck of working with the whole thing…especially since she did not take any criticism of the ideas well AT ALL, and they were deeply deeply flawed (as in, there was little logical consistency – the main character lived in a mansion that was also a cottage? Her father died when she was twelve and her mother remarried and her stepfather ACTUALLY WAS HER FATHER WHO FAKED HIS DEATH?) <- these aren't exact examples but similar kinds of plot holes plagued the story.

          I sent the manuscript back to her, told her not to pay me the rest of what she owed me, and drank. I gather later she ended up self-publishing through someplace with other editors. I hope they fared better than I did.

          Reply
    1. Doodle

      Oh wow, I’d totally forgotten that, but yes — that’s exactly the kind of person I’d be picturing, which is not great. Presumably the video would not be that ridiculous (or even ridiculous at all) in its content — but the existence of it would generate those same impressions, unfortunately.

      Reply
    2. alter_ego

      I’m picturing Elle Woods. My dream is to live in a world where I can submit a resume on pink paper one day.

      Reply
    3. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

      As a general rule, if it’s worked for a zany main character in a sitcom, it’s absolutely nothing you should ever consider doing in real life.

      Reply
      1. Amber Rose

        This is such solid advice it stands as an actual rule at my company, only worded a little differently.

        Reply
    4. Doug Judy

      That’s what I thought too. Like whom would be interviewing the OP? Themselves, with a British and a wee bit Scottish accent??

      OP despite what you’ve seen on TV, this s a very bad idea. I am sure there are people who have done this and for every one that maybe lucked out and got a job, most probably didn’t. And those who did get a job, probably would have gotten the job anyway.

      Reply
  5. Doodle

    *Making* the video is fine (and maybe a good idea so that you can practice your answers) — *sending* it is a terrible idea for the reasons Alison outlined. I do some student worker hiring, and even for an entry-level worker this would come off as too precious and naive. From someone with more experience in the field, it would likely lead to me ruling out the person entirely, because I’d think they didn’t have a great understanding of workplace norms (or respect for the time of the people they’re working with — video is incredibly inefficient).

    I do think you could send the video to friends/family who do hiring and ask them to critique your answers, though.

    Reply
    1. Falling Diphthong

      Video is incredibly inefficient.

      For online content, anytime something that is normally written gets done as a video people complain in the comments. “Yes it’s got pictures; very fleek. I can’t scan through a video to hit the parts I need.”

      Reply
      1. Saturnine

        Yes! It always gets on my nerves when I click on something like an article, only to find that it’s in video format, without a transcript or summary in sight.

        Reply
        1. Allison

          Right. I’d rather read an article than watch a video. And I hate when the article has a news clip that autoplays. Did I say I wanted to watch that??

          Reply
          1. Hey Nonnie

            Autoplay, plus the “article” is literally a word-for-word transcript of the video. Dude, why bother with the video, then? Even better when the transcript contains entire repeated sections/paragraphs because someone got too excited with Ctrl-v.

            Also the orgs that do this have set themselves up here — I see a video and expect a very high-level overview with not a lot of depth, and expect depth from a written article (that is longer than 200 words and uses paragraphs instead of bullet points and gifs). Especially if you include both on the same page, which presumably you do only if there’s added value in doing so (haha). Which makes the aforementioned transcripts doubly disappointing and annoying.

            Reply
            1. Tongue Cluckin' Grammarian

              Well, having a video + transcript helps with accessibility issues for some folks.
              I personally am happy to not have to watch a video, and the people who have video only and no transcripts are not only annoying for me, but not accessible for many users.

              Reply
      2. many bells down

        This is why I usually can’t watch things like YouTube tutorials. Yes, that’s a lovely skirt you’ve made but if you’re going to spend the first 5 minutes of the video talking about your fabric and switching needles and feet on your machine I’m not going to watch it.

        Reply
        1. Falling Diphthong

          My husband has found YouTube videos really useful for car repair.

          I’ve been referencing some for building a deck, and the range is huge. From the short “aha, now I see how that connector is supposed to attach, which was really hard to discern from line sketches” to the 30 minute odyssey about why you should dig your own post hole with a shovel like a man.

          Reply
  6. Bend & Snap

    There are a lot of ways to use this, but employment applications aren’t one of them.

    If you want to show you can make a kickass, highly produced video with killer content on a topic you’re interested in, make one and post it to Twitter. If this is more about you, the candidate, with a nod to video, I don’t see the benefit.

    Reply
    1. Antilles

      Honestly, I’m not even sure I’d recommend that “highly produced video with killer content” unless in an industry where social media or video editing prowess is relevant. Most employers won’t even realize it’s there and those employers who do probably won’t care. Knowing how to make a well-edited online video just isn’t a valuable skill for most industries unless such a skill is directly related to the job (e.g., journalism, communications, etc).

      Reply
      1. Bend & Snap

        It depends on the industry. The comment about “modern content” made me think it would be relevant. I work in comms, and my Twitter is on my resume and LinkedIn and every interviewer I’ve had since 2008 has looked at my tweets and asked me about them.

        If you’re say, an accountant, it wouldn’t be relevant but the LW sounds more like a marketer to me, hence my comment.

        Reply
  7. BethRA

    +1

    At my organization, the most likely result of sending in a video of yourself with (or instead of) your application would be your entire application landing in the “no” pile, for the reasons Allison and you yourself mentioned. In no case would we watch the video itself.

    I’m sure there are jobs out there where the hiring managers might want to see a video, or other example of your ability to create content – but they will explicitly state that in the job posting if that’s the case. A good general rule is if the employer didn’t ask for it, or it isn’t in the requested format, or delivered in the requested manner, it’s a gimmick.

    I appreciate that you worked hard on this, OP, I do – but that’s not the same as saying your intended audience has an interest in seeing it.

    Reply
    1. Ashie

      Yeah, this seems a little odd. “I worked hard on this” is NOT a reason to submit it. And “4. increase my confidence” is kind of silly, the hiring manager absolutely will not care that OP found the exercise personally edifying.

      Reply
    1. Doodle

      I would think that the fields where this would be an exception would likely request the video as an example of
      past work, etc. — I’m having trouble picturing an example where an unsolicited video would go over well.

      Reply
    2. Elle

      I’m not sure it’s field specific so much as job-specific. I sent in a video resume once for an internship type program. It was after being waitlisted and being asked to send in something “creative” to add to my original application. But they specifically asked for something “different” than a cover letter or recommendation and it was after submitting normal materials.

      But I can’t imagine there’s a whole fiel where sending in video resumes is normal.

      Reply
    3. Bend & Snap

      Even in marketing it’s not likely to be a benefit. Producing video is a job skill and one that you should showcase. An interview video typically wouldn’t showcase that skill.

      Reply
    4. BethRA

      Possibly, but there would then be posting-specific instructions on what to send and how to apply.

      Some of our posting ask candidates to send writing samples, because that ability is relevant to the positions in question. But I’m not going to read your sample articles or short stories if all we’ve asked for is a cover letter and resume.

      Reply
    5. Ask a Manager Post author

      There are a few instances where it makes sense to include a video of yourself — like if you’re applying for a news anchor job, but in that case including clips of you on TV is known to be a requirement of applying. Or I hire for trainers, and if someone includes a link to a short online clip of them doing a training, that’s great (but it would just be a link to an existing speaking gig that they include on their resume or in their cover letter, not something they produced specifically to apply for jobs).

      There are no cases I can think of where it would be a good idea to do what the OP is proposing.

      Reply
      1. Kowalski! Options!

        I’ve had several students who work in film and TV production who upload demo reels of their work onto platforms like Vimeo, then include a shortened link, plus password, to the demo, for recruiters to access. I’ve also heard that instructional designers should have e-portfolios of the courses they’ve created – but yeah, once you’ve been asked for them. Not in lieu of an interview.

        Reply
      2. blackcat

        I have seen a couple of teaching job ads, both at the secondary and university level, where including video of *your teaching* is optional or encouraged. That’s fundamentally similar to what you’ve described, too.

        I also think it’s helpful, at least in some circumstances. Interviewee Blackcat is not exactly the same as Teacher Blackcat. Teacher Blackcat is funnier, but she also trips on things a lot.

        Reply
    6. SaraV

      TV reporter/anchor.

      But that’s a video of their work or a package for a story that they covered…not them answering common interview questions.

      Reply
      1. Chickaletta

        I’m not so sure. I had a summer job in the EEO dept of local tv station years ago, before the internet. I bet I processed a couple dozen unsolicited anchor resumes every f’ing day. Even then, before videos would have been easy to produce, it was annoying to deal with news anchor resumes. The pages and pages of their resumes (they go through jobs like my cat goes through naps), the headshots, the gimmicky names (Colleen Smith became Kolleen Smythe). Every resume was processed and filed away. A video would have made 0% difference and would have only added to my burden. Probably 1 out 500 ever made it to the hiring manager. And, oh, when they actually showed up in person? You know who was sent out to the lobby to greet them? Me, the 20 year old college student on a summer job. I took their resume, thanked them, and sent them on their way. They probably never saw that lobby again.

        Reply
      2. One of the Sarahs

        Yeah, that would be more of a showreel of their previous work, and in context of an application, there should be instructions for that.

        Reply
    7. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Dance (including choreography), acting, television, some sports—i.e., professions where they need to see your “reel” to evaluate your talent/comprehension before calling you in for an audition. Maybe magicians (but probably not).

      Reply
      1. Ask a Manager Post author

        I bet magicians do need a reel.

        Now I wonder how hypnotists get hired. Is there not a danger that they could hypnotize you into offering them the job? Must ponder.

        Reply
          1. Elizabeth West

            Me too, argh. Bonus points if I could do it via email.

            *replies to the rejection she just got from a job she wanted* ON THE COUNT OF THREE… YOOOOUU WILL EMAIL ME BACK AND SCHEDULE AN INTERVIEWWWW….AND YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND OFFER ME THE JOOOOOOB……

            Reply
        1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

          That’s true… I had forgotten about acrobats, circus performers, and animal trainers (as well as trained animals).

          Isn’t there a hypnotists code of ethics or somesuch? I think it has something about hypnotizing people without consent…

          Reply
        2. Antilles

          I bet magicians do need a reel.
          Nope. The magician just pulls your offer letter out of an empty hat and *that’s* his statement of qualifications.

          Reply
        3. JKP

          We hypnotists have demo videos, same as magicians, comedians, etc. And of course, you can’t hypnotize someone against their will or get them to do something they don’t want to do (it only works that way on TV/movies). Although a good hypnotist will be very good at getting rapport and reading whoever is interviewing them. And we can use anchoring techniques to leave them with a favorable feeling about us. And language techniques such as embedded commands to covertly influence. But anyone could learn these techniques and apply them to interviews without actually being a hypnotist or hypnotizing their interviewer.

          Reply
            1. JKP

              We emailed months ago, and then I got into my busy season, and got buried before I could could reply to your last email. I’m getting some breathing room again and was just thinking I should finish my reply, but thought maybe I had let it go too long. But yeah, I should be able to email you again this week.

              Reply
            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

              This whole subthread makes me so happy. I, too, have so many questions, including what the secret non-hypnotizing techniques are!

              Reply
          1. Halpful

            you can’t hypnotize someone against their will

            This is true. I tried hypnotherapy, and some part of my mind wasn’t comfortable and kept distracting me with snide comments, so I couldn’t relax enough for it to work.

            Reply
        4. PollyQ

          I bet magicians do need a reel.

          Now I’m picturing a bunch of magicians doing card tricks while simulaneously dancing a Virginia Reel.

          Or maybe fishing.

          Reply
      2. Hey Nonnie

        For arts/performing, though, I wouldn’t really equate this to an “interview video.” Your reel/showreel/demo reel is your portfolio, just as a writer would include a link to their writing portfolio or a graphic designer would include a link to their design portfolio.

        And while self-taped video AUDITIONS are a thing (and an increasingly common one, at that), you don’t submit to a casting call with an audition video. You wait for the casting director to contact you and request one. (And they’ll typically send you a side/script that they want you to use, so jumping the gun wouldn’t help you, anyway.)

        Reply
    8. hbc

      There are probably hiring manager specific exceptions, but you’ll turn off more than you turn on, and you probably don’t want to work for the ones who are impressed that you stood out in a way that has nothing to do with the job or are so lazy that they’re glad you did the interview for them.

      Reply
    9. TL -

      A videographer/video editor would definitely need to include examples of their work and if they don’t have anything they can share (because they make instructional videos for the CIA?), I can imagine putting in one of yourself to showcase your abilities. But even then, it would be more reel/portfolio type stuff.

      I definitely submitted a link to a video lesson I did for grad school apps but it was part of my portfolio and I did not expect them to watch all of it (I submitted selected excerpts from the script as well.)

      Reply
      1. Falling Diphthong

        I think “I make instructional videos for the CIA. For obvious reasons, I cannot include them here” would spark anyone’s curiosity.

        Reply
        1. TL -

          You spend years earning their trust, tempting them farther and farther into the dark side, and then it turns out they were all how to fill out onboarding forms and report workplace injuries to HR.

          Reply
    10. Allison

      Not field specific, but during my job hunt I applied to an admin role and they asked for a “0ne sided” video interview, where I had to make a video of myself answering questions off a prompt. Seemed to me like they didn’t have a lot of time to conduct in-person interviews, which makes sense for a nonprofit, so this was probably a way to weed out some people. But since it was an admin role, maybe they also wanted to see how personable, outgoing, and – I’ll come out and say it – attractive someone was before bothering to block out time for an in-person interview.

      Reply
      1. Djuna

        I had one of those too, six years ago.
        It was the second stage, after a written test.
        The company used it to help whittle down a massive pool of applicants, since a 5 minute video is quicker and easier to sit through than a 15 minute phone screen.
        They used them again, later, to refresh their memory of candidates they brought in for on-site interviews.
        I got the job, but I would balk at doing one of those “interviews” again since the lack of feedback is really discombobulating. I felt like I was just waffling into the ether.
        I don’t think I was the only one either, since they switched to Skype interviews a couple of months later.

        Reply
      2. Elizabeth

        My old job recently implemented the video pre-screen thing and when a bunch of us found out about it, our immediate thought was we would never have applied there if that had been in place when we were being hired!

        Reply
    11. Bonky

      I run the communications team of a tech company. If I’m hiring someone for a videographic role or for certain social media roles where skill in filming, video editing or presenting is important, I will ASK for examples of video content up front, in the advertisement.

      I would not have the time or the inclination to review an unsolicited video – submitting one would make me think that the candidate’s not very good at following instructions, doesn’t understand professional norms, and won’t be someone I want on my team. Alison’s advice is spot on; it’s naive, I simply don’t have the bandwidth to engage. And I’m a bit concerned that OP thinks that making a video demonstrates some deep technical understanding: it doesn’t.

      Reply
    12. Ramona Flowers

      Would be interested to hear of any.

      I’ve worked in media and used to interview people on-camera. Had I applied for a job doing that I might have sent a showreel if I was asked for one, but would never have made a video resume. Even talk show presenters would surely only send clips of themselves in action, never of themselves answering job interview questions.

      Reply
  8. Lily in NYC

    Many companies use recruiting software that won’t even allow you to upload anything but a resume and cover letter. And it’s never a good idea to do something that is going to create more work for a hiring manager (and watching a candidate video is more work even if it doesn’t seem like it would be).

    Reply
    1. Chicago Recruiter

      Also, most companies who are using Applicant Tracking Systems are having recruiters/HR screen resumes and applications first, so a video most likely would never reach its intended audience.

      Reply
    2. MillersSpring

      IF you’re in one of the fields described in the question above where demo reels are required, you link to it from your resume; you would not upload the actual video file.

      Reply
  9. Amy

    The only time you should send in a video like this is if they actually request it. Stick to what they ask you to submit, and focus on standing out by making those materials excellent.

    Reply
  10. fposte

    OP, hiring is really time-consuming, and I ask for the material that allows me to do it with the greatest efficiency. It doesn’t raise an applicant’s standing with me if they want me to do extra homework.

    We mostly hire fairly inexperienced people, so we’re pretty forgiving; we wouldn’t knock you out of the pool for sending it or anything. But we wouldn’t watch it, and it would count very slightly against you. My reaction on seeing that you’d submitted it would be pretty much a sympathetic but slightly condescending “Oh, bless her,” which is not the response you’re hoping to elicit.

    Reply
    1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

      Very much agreed. I also probably won’t watch someone’s video, tbh, and in the past candidates’ videos have bombed their application (and it’s never great to be “that candidate”). And if you send it as an actual file or on a disk, I’m definitely not watching it because of the potential cybersecurity risks.

      Reply
      1. fposte

        Oh, that’s a good point. We’re BYOD and therefore pretty heedless, but I know we’re outliers.

        I understand the “stand out” impulse–there are a lot of applicants for most jobs, for sure. But finding a new way to stand out usually means messing with the process people want you to follow, and the people who get hired tend to be people who followed the process. So don’t fear that following the process will hurt you.

        Reply
      2. Jesmlet

        Yeah unless it’s solicited, I’m never going to open a file someone randomly sends me (barring obvious word docs and pdfs. If you email me a zip file saying you’re looking for work, that goes straight into the trash). I probably wouldn’t even watch if they sent me a link to a youtube page. Just so many reasons to not do this.

        Reply
            1. Jadelyn

              Right? I’d at least give them points for having a sense of humor. There was a tumblr post that was going around, someone bemoaning the fact that they’d had a filler paragraph for their summary on their resume that said something like “I am a fish I am a fish I am a fish” etc., only they’d forgotten to fix that before they sent it to a recruiter. I was like…you know, I’d probably at least give them a call just bc they gave me a quick giggle.

              Reply
        1. Student

          Just FYI, those types of files can mess up your computer, too. Everything’s gotten fancy and scripted and interactive, so just about everything can get you.

          Reply
  11. MuseumChick

    Unless you are in a very narrow set of industries where this *might* make sense. Don’t do it. It will come off as weird.

    Reply
  12. Jesmlet

    Yeah reading through your reasons for wanting to do this:
    (1) show that I can create modern content – a video of yourself is unfortunately not considered modern content, it’s something pretty much anyone with a smart phone can do.
    (2) give employers a face to the name – as Alison said, this could open you up to discrimination for any number of reasons.
    (3) answer questions that they might have before they have to ask them – since you have no way of knowing what questions they’re going to ask, this could come off totally off base. Even if you answer the right questions, they’re most likely still going to ask them over the phone or in person.
    (4) increase confidence in myself – this is the only reason you should consider making it (but definitely NOT a reason to submit it)

    General rule of thumb when you’re looking for work, if they don’t ask for it and it isn’t conventional (like bringing a copy of your resume with you, sending a follow up note, etc) just don’t do it!

    Reply
  13. KWu

    In addition to what’s already been said by Alison and other commenters, I think it might be worth pointing out that you want to set yourself apart from others candidates via the experience and skills you possess, not the format in which you describe them.

    I’ve definitely been there of feeling like if only you could catch someone’s attention to be able to talk to them, you’d be able to land the job, but it will be most effective to do so through the standard formats of resume and cover letter instead. You’re definitely capable of standing out by working hard on those, so don’t give up, just redirect your efforts to that part of your job applications and consider the video as part of any other preparation you might do for improving at the interviewing portion of the process.

    Reply
  14. Mimsie

    This is a very bad idea. The only time I would wish to see a video is if it was part of a portfolio for a creative role.

    Reply
  15. ThatGirl

    As others have said, I can see making a video to see how you look on camera/to others – but no, don’t send it.

    Can I ask a semi-related cover letter question? I’m doing this whole Right Management thing and they recommend “T-Letters” for cover letters – which if you’ve never heard that term means basically making a table and lining up the job ad’s requirements with your own experience/value. So if it said “4-7 years of experience” you’d line that up next to “Six years of teapot making experience blah blah blah” in your chart.

    This seems a little gimmicky to me?

    Reply
    1. Ask a Manager Post author

      Eh, I’m not a fan. Gimmicky, and plus spelling out your qualifications in a chart feels … a bit unsophisticated, and I’d rather see how you communicate in a traditional letter. You can write a stronger cover letter without it.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        That was my thought – seems like dumbing it down, almost, and I can express my experience and fit more eloquently otherwise. But I wanted a reality check, because I’m certainly no expert. Thanks :)

        Reply
        1. Starbuck

          Plus you’re including a lot of redundant content that just takes up space- the hiring manager knows what’s in the job ad requirements, so using space to list all of that again seems like a waste when you could be going into more detail describing your skills/experience.

          Reply
          1. Jadelyn

            This. The CL is where you get to have a personality, be a person instead of a collection of bullet points. Make it count for that, don’t fill it up with yet more bullet points!

            Reply
      2. Allypopx

        On the last episode of Science Vs. they said they hired their intern because they asked him to fact check something and he came back with a chart. Different, but trivia I offer.

        Reply
    2. Bend & Snap

      I want to see writing skills, and you just can’t communicate those in a chart. Although the thank you-note is a second opportunity to make or break. We one time pulled a finalist out of the hiring process for misspelling “congratulations.”

      I’m not against an infographic that’s well done, industry appropriate and adds to the materials but that’s a different animal.

      Reply
      1. Jadelyn

        You pulled someone, who was obviously well-qualified enough to be a finalist, out of the running because they made one spelling mistake?

        That seems…overly draconian to me. I get that the hiring process is where someone should be on their best behavior and making sure stuff like that doesn’t happen, but come on, we’re all human. People make mistakes. Unless it was part of a worrying pattern you’d noticed throughout the process, like responses seeming rushed or not thoroughly considered, I can’t imagine disqualifying a finalist over a typo.

        Reply
        1. Ramona Flowers

          Unless it was a name – of a member of the panel or the name of the organisation – which this wasn’t.

          Reply
    3. Anxa

      I’d skip it for a cover letter, but I use this build confidence for my own personal cover letter and application prep. I also bring a polished one to an interview, for me to glance at.

      Reply
      1. ThatGirl

        I can definitely see how making a list would help for prep, but agree that it seems gimmicky/wrong for an actual cover letter. I just wanted to see what others thought.

        Reply
    4. MegaMoose, Esq

      Maybe a gimmicky that they gave it a name and a formal exercise, but making sure your cover letter matches the job requirements seems pretty standard, and if making a chart works, I guess that’s cool (I’m a fan of checklists, myself). They don’t want you to actually submit the chart, do they?

      Reply
      1. MegaMoose, Esq

        Hey, should have refreshed. So they actually DO want you to submit the chart instead of a narrative letter? Weird.

        Reply
        1. ThatGirl

          Yes, they want the chart – they showed examples in the video I was watching of putting the chart format in your letter, along with a more standard paragraph or two. Of course you want to match the job requirements – but that method seemed gimmicky.

          Reply
          1. MegaMoose, Esq

            Wow, yeah, I was imagining it as a “how to write an outline for your cover letter” kind of thing.

            Reply
    5. Antilles

      Nope, too gimmicky. It’s good to mention your qualifications of course, but you don’t need to specifically mention what they ask for – just say “6 years of experience in Teapot Design with Alpha Company and Beta Company” and leave it at that; no need to mention that their job ad requested 4 to 7 years.
      Skipping the table also has the added perk of *not* highlighting qualifications where you don’t quite meet. If you have a table, it jumps off the page at me that you don’t have your Professional Teapot Design License because you didn’t check the box. Whereas with a traditional cover letter/resume, I probably notice that the PTDL isn’t listed, but at least you’re not throwing it in my face.

      Reply
    6. Allie

      Definitely gimmicky. Not a bad exercise before writing the cover letter so you hit relevant points, but nope on actually sending it.

      Reply
      1. SS

        I’m Australian and I’ve never done this for a job application, and I’ve never seen it in any of the applications that come through for my boss. However I’ve seen my husband do it for a couple of jobs, which he was offered – these were government roles that listed lots of criteria and requested that you demonstrate how you fit them all (as opposed to asking for an actual cover letter or ‘statement’). So it does happen but I don’t think it’s typical here.

        Reply
  16. SubwayFan

    Devil’s advocate here: I work in digital marketing and any time I apply for a job I am always asked for examples of videos I’ve created, etc. If you work in a field where you might need to work on camera or with video, a 60 second intro video might be a nice thing to have to share when people look for samples of your work.

    Reply
    1. SubwayFan

      Clarification: I wouldn’t submit this WITH your application, but have it as a video on your LinkedIn profile or a portfolio site to link to if you’re asked for samples.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        I dunno, my gut says that I would find it pretty weird to see an intro video mixed in with someone’s reel.

        Reply
      2. SKA

        Yeah, if you are in a field where personal profile/portfolio websites are the norm (and something you would already be linking in your application), I could totally see having a video somewhere on the site under a heading of “Get to Know Me” or “Video Introduction” or similar. But even then, I wouldn’t address potential interviewers directly in the video.

        Reply
    2. designbot

      I was just wondering about this as well, mostly because while Alison says “Most hiring managers are spending mere seconds on your resume before making a decision about whether to put you in their yes, no, or maybe pile.” when I’m hiring, I’ve made that decision before even looking at the resume. If you are applying for a creative position (meaning a position where you create things/content, not that you think creatively), then your samples are far more important than your resume.
      That said, you shouldn’t have to create new samples for this purpose anyway, you should at most tweak or reformat samples you already have on hand.

      Reply
      1. TL -

        I could see it if you didn’t have rights to your work for whatever reasons. Like, if I made instructional videos, but I’ve been working for the CIA for the last 12 years; all my stuff is classified. Here’s an instruction video where I show you the various ways of tying your shoes in a manner compliant with company regulations and how to report it if you see Wakeen tying his shoes in a non-compliant manner.

        Reply
          1. TL -

            Oh, for sure! But since people are asking for any exceptions, I can think of one or two that might exist – they’re definitely on the “not everyone can eat sandwiches!” level but I feel like that’s what was asked for :)

            Reply
    3. Midge

      I came here to say something similar. If you’re applying to jobs that require video editing skills, you should definitely make a video. It shouldn’t be about yourself, though. And it should go on your online profile, not in your job applications. You can provide the link to your profile in your resume or on your LinkedIn page. I think there could be great value in demonstrating you have a skill. But it’s something that hiring managers should have the option to delve into if they’re interested in you, not something they have to sit through before they’ve figured out if they want to talk to you or not.

      Reply
    4. fposte

      I don’t think that’s devil’s advocacy–you’re saying “send what’s asked for.” What’s asked for may vary by field, but you still don’t send what your field isn’t asking for.

      Reply
      1. LBK

        Right – if you need to ask, the answer is no, because presumably if you’re an actor or editor or in another industry where sending a reel is standard, you’d know that.

        Reply
    5. MuseumChick

      I do think there are some (very few) industries where this wouldn’t be seen as off. Such as, as you say, digital marketing. But in the vast majority of industries it’s just not done and would get a raised eyebrow and a possible “You’ll never believe what kind of resume came across my desk today” conversation with friends after work.

      Reply
  17. Interviewer

    OP, I kind of want to meet your Lone Ranger right now, the one person in your life who’s willing to go, “Pffft. NOPE.”

    Reply
    1. Bonky

      Listen to that person when you’ve got questions in the future. A friend or family member who is prepared to be honest with you about feedback is worth their weight in gold.

      Reply
  18. Anxa

    I wouldn’t.

    Unless the job requires you to make videos, it’s probably really not relevant to the position.

    I know it can be frustrating when you can’t stand out otherwise. Personally, my resume and cover letter don’t stand out at all. Part of it’s my application, part of it who I am as a candidate. I’ve been tempted to try something gimmicky, since I might never be able to get noticed in a good way for a good job with more traditional methods. And maybe, just maybe it’s better to alienate 95% of managers to impress a few who like that sort of thing than to leave a good (but not good enough) impression on 95% of managers. But I really think that should be a move out of desperation when you have nothing left to lose. It seems super risky. Plus, even if it works I’d be embarrassed.

    Reply
    1. Naomi

      But as Alison has pointed out before, the few managers you might impress this way are going to be ones who are impressed by style over substance, so they’re not a group you want to select for.

      OP, everyone who has ever tried to get hired using a gimmick was hoping it would “set them apart”. Gimmicks will do that, but that’s not the same thing as helping you get the job. What you need to consider isn’t “will this make me stand out?” but “will this make me stand out in a positive way?” Catching a hiring manager’s attention in a way that makes a negative impression is no good to you.

      Reply
  19. the gold digger

    I did this in 1993. It did not work, despite the fact that my nine-year-old interviewer asked me, “If you were a pizza topping, what kind would you be?” I even called the company – Leo Burnett – I thought they would appreciate creativity – to see if they had gotten it.

    They had.

    They were not interested, thank you.

    Reply
  20. nnn

    Dear OP:

    If you want to show you can create modern content, create some modern content and post it online under your real name, perhaps linked from you LinkedIn profile if your online presence isn’t easily googleable.

    If you want to give employers a face for the name, include a picture on your LinkedIn profile and/or other online presence.

    If you want to answer questions employers might have, flesh out your LinkedIn profile and/or online presence to include the answers to the anticipated questions.

    If you want to increase confidence in yourself, that’s outside the scope of a job application process. Do what you have to do (possibly including, as others have mentioned, making videos for your own purposes), but don’t burden employers with it.

    Reply
  21. UnderpaidinSeattle

    I’ve really appreciated getting links to personal websites with examples of the applicant’s work featured there. But would be very put off by the video as described by the OP.

    I always like getting industry-relevant content that is created by an applicant, however. Show off what you can do, just do it in a way that isn’t about you, but about sharing relevant interesting information with people. That’s never gimmicky (if it’s done well). Of course, that’s only really applicable to certain industries and even then, to jobs and at a certain level. But if for example, you could do a video blog about a topic that is relevant to your industry, and feature it on an industry specific LinkedIn group or something, you can then include a link to that in your resume.

    For example, I’m planning to do a video for an industry group, about a new app, and how my team is using it in an unconventional way to address a common issue in our field. That is the kind of thing I might include a link to if I were applying for a relevant job.

    Reply
    1. UnderpaidinSeattle

      I actually just re-read what I wrote here and I’d change that to, you could include a link to a video like that (assuming you are doing it because you actually have something useful to offer, not just as a gimmick) on a personal website or a linkedIn profile and a link to your website on your resume. Not just a link to the video. That would still seem gimmicky. Again, this is really advice best served for certain fields where being a “thought leader” (yeah…a terrible term but one that is used freely in my field, unfortunately) is something that is a draw. I wished I’d started doing more industry writing and panels etc. earlier in my career. I passed up some opportunities and now that I’m seeking out a higher level job I’m regretting not having more of an online presence and portfolio of that type of content so I’m playing catch up a bit.

      Reply
  22. LaterKate

    Yeah, don’t do this. In addition to the points Alison made, the rate hiring manager that loves this and move s you to the top of the stack? Is terrible at hiring. Which means your future co-workers will have been hired by someone who can’t discern what makes someone a good candidate, and what is just flash and gimmicks.

    Reply
  23. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

    If I got a video resume, my eyes would roll hard enough to crank-start an old Model T.

    Reply
    1. TL -

      I’m not gonna lie, I would appreciate a video showing basic lab skills: “Here’s me pipetting without bubbles; here’s me showcasing good sterile technique; here’s me pouring an agarose gel; here’s me transferring data onto a flash drive.”

      Reply
      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

        You have no idea how happy it makes me that someone else values those things. :D

        Reply
        1. TL -

          :) I’m pretty sure I’ve made people cry in a closet over pipetting before.

          But seriously, it would just be nice to have – I might still hire you but I’ll know how much time to budget for training you and will plan accordingly!

          Reply
          1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist

            I’m imagining Gordon Ramsay in a lab coat. “This agarose gel looks like it got run over by a f***ing CAR”

            Reply
            1. TL -

              “I wouldn’t send this data to a $@()#^* agricultural journal, do you hear me!? These deviations are %$(%!”
              “My grandmother has steadier hands and she’s 90!”
              “How the @$* did you manage to graduate with a @$%*#$ college degree and yet you can’t figure out how to transfer one piece of data?! You’re a disgrace to the @#%* American education system. The AMERICAN education system – how do you @$*#$^ live with yourself?”

              And now we need to stop derailing! (Sorry, Alison!!)

              Reply
            2. Allie

              I remember one time as an undergrad I caught a huge computational error in someone’s PhD thesis. The reaction was… interesting. But there’s a reason I got out of that world and vastly changed jobs. I was not good at lab politics at all.

              Reply
          2. Allie

            I did go to a particularly tough underflgrad program but I feel like we covered all that in lab. There was the time my lab partner hit the override button and stuck his hand in the x ray machine (I wasn’t present, he did not intercept the beam but it was a scary couple weeks, he also wasn’t wearing his rad ring on his dominant hand either). I was surprised that didn’t get him kicked out of the lab.

            Reply
            1. TL -

              Nobody learns adequate lab skills from teaching labs (unless it’s a tech-based program but those are usually associate’s degrees). They’re learned by working in a lab.
              (I’ve had interns from many different calibers of schools. This is universally true.)

              Reply
              1. Allie

                True, we were required to do actual research time to graduate. I did get certified on a number of machines as part of my undergrad research (we had one of those weird programs where the Phd students vastly outnumbered undergrads. I got to work on machines some masters students don’t see at other places ). But proper pipetting? Really? How do you get out of a basic lab class and not know how to do that?

                Reply
                1. TL -

                  If you come out of your undergrad knowing how to set a pipette to the correct volume and the difference between second and first stop, you’ve got a solid base but you don’t actually know how to pipette well – I work in a molecular/cell lab, so I need pipetting to be extremely accurate and precise, which is a very different skillset than you’ll need to complete a lab course.

  24. Jess

    In addition to what everyone else has said, even when the interview questions are generic, companies generally want to hear responses that are tailored to the role and the organization. I don’t need to believe that you haven’t applied to any jobs but mine, but I do need to hear that you’ve done some thinking about how your background fits within the context of the particular role you’re applying for. Even if I ask “so tell me about your experience,” I’m looking for a response that aligns with stated hiring needs at a minimum, and ideally one that specifically calls out certain overlaps between the candidate’s background and the role. A video where you generically answer common questions without relating it back to the individual role in question would, at best, not be useful.

    Reply
    1. Doodle

      I didn’t even think about this part. I guess I was picturing a video that was tailored to a particular job — you’re right that a generic “here’s me and my experience” video would be even less helpful. The challenge of the format forces you to be less specific than you would otherwise be in a cover letter and resume. Not a good idea.

      Reply
  25. phedre

    I would MUCH rather quickly skim a resume than be forced to sit through a 5 minute gimmicky video. Even if your resume was great, sending me a video would make me roll my eyes and take you out of the running. If I want to see your marketing or video editing skills, I’ll ask you for your portfolio.

    Reply
  26. cheef

    OP, if you feel like the regular resume/cover letter application isn’t showing enough of your content-related talent, I’d suggest putting together a portfolio website. You can embed the video there, include examples of your previous work, and anything else you think might interest a potential employer but doesn’t necessarily belong in your application (e.g. testimonial quotes from previous freelance clients). Then just include the link to your website on your resume somewhere reasonable. A hiring manager clicking on that link and discovering your cool stuff comes with a lot less risk than a hiring manager opening your email to find a bunch of unsolicited attachments—Allison is right that in 99% of cases that’s going to come across as gimmicky.

    Reply
  27. Hey Nonnie

    Now please tell employers to stop requiring application videos, too.

    There have been a couple places I’ve applied to that required a video (filmed just for them / answering specific questions, of course) to be included with your application. If I had had any better options, I wouldn’t have bothered; as it was, it was a lot of extra effort to go through to not even get a phone screen. Come on — you can have a fun/relaxed company culture without expecting every single employee to be a YouTube comedian (and gods forbid your sense of humor is of a different style). My ability to design teapots is not, in fact, related to or correlated with how funny I am doing improv at my phone in my living room.

    I’ll also point out it takes several hours to shoot and edit even a 2 minute video, which is a lot to ask of someone you haven’t even talked to yet.

    Someday I want to not actually need a job when I find a posting that requires this, just so I can send them a video that slowly crawls over my cover letter, resume, and portfolio. Maybe with voiceover that reads it for them. (They’d probably still miss the point, but it would feel good.)

    Reply
  28. LBK

    (3) answer questions that they might have before they have to ask them

    This is the part that stuck out to me, because it seems to be misunderstanding the purpose of an interview. It feels like you’re treating an interview almost as an inconvenience and trying to speed up the process/make it easier on the hiring manager by pre-answering some of the questions you think they’ll ask. But an interview is just as much about collecting info as it is about engaging in an interactive discussion with you and getting a sense of you as a person when you’re speaking off-the-cuff, not in an edited, polished resume or cover letter.

    A pre-taped video that you presumably did multiple takes of until it was perfect isn’t going to close that gap any more than a resume and cover letter do. I’m still going to want to just sit down and talk to you for a half hour, so you’re not really saving me anything by providing a video FAQ.

    Reply
    1. Kaybee

      +1. And, OP, you are also interviewing them. You don’t want to shorten or skip that process. You can learn a lot about a prospective employer and organizational culture through face-to-face conversations, and you don’t want to rob yourself of that opportunity.

      Reply
  29. Jessesgirl72

    OP: To illustrate how annoying people, just in general, find this kind of thing, go to any news page that also has information you can only get by watching a video, and then go to the comments section and look to see how many of the comments are complaining about the content being given through video that none of them watched, versus those commenting on the content.

    Even without an Ad in front of it, people would rather get information in written form, quickly. Especially when they are at work going through a stack of resumes and applications. You are wasting their time, not saving it.

    But it’s good that you stopped to ask before you just tried it! :)

    Reply
    1. Another Lawyer

      +1000 to this. I’ve stopped getting news from outlets that only have videos/have an autoplay video. I read much faster than the video and 95% of the time it’s just an anchor talking about the story with a couple of static images.

      Reply
      1. Allison

        A lot of companies have gotten it in their heads that video is king, everyone’s doing the video now, because people love watching videos! And it’s true . . . kind of. I’d rather watch John Oliver than read the New York Times. I’d rather watch a video compilation of cats doing funny things, than read stories of cats doing funny things. I’d rather watch an episode of Doctor Who than read a summary of the episode. I’d rather see a dance move than read about how to do it. You get the idea, video has its place. However, generally when there’s specific information I need, I’d rather get it in text form, so I can scan – or better yet, ctrl+f search for that information. That’s why I’d rather read a resume than watch someone talk about themselves, and why I’d rather read a news article than watch a video.

        Reply
        1. Jessesgirl72

          Video ads pay better than static ones. That is the reason why I think so many news sources seem to be so in love with them.

          Reply
  30. Allie

    I am going to go ahead and say that it’s generally not a good idea to submit much more than you were asked for. An extra standard document is one thing, a video is just so much it would very likely get your application tossed if you sent it unsolicited.

    Reply
  31. Allison

    There may be some industries where employers get a ton of perfectly qualified candidates – people who have just the right amount of experience, the right skills, the right type of background, and even all the “nice to haves” on the description, and you do have to stand out somehow, but in all the fields I’ve worked in, we’re lucky if an open job gets a good number of minimally qualified applicants, let alone perfect ones. If someone sent in “extra” materials (something other than a resume and cover letter, that wasn’t requested in the job description), that says to me “I know I don’t have the qualifications you want, so I’m just gonna show you how awesome I am.” No thanks.

    Reply
  32. KAG

    MIT’s MBA application (a few years back, at least) had an “optional” video portion. Needless to say, I decided to decline the “option” (and, likely, my chances of admission). I have quite a lot of computing power at home, but the assumption that I have the tools to make videos?

    Reply
  33. Kayla

    OP here! Thank you all so much for responding. I hear ya! On the bright side, I only sent it with one application. Not surprisingly, they didn’t respond at all haha yikes! Honestly, I already knew it wasn’t a good idea when I emailed Alison buuuut I’m still glad that I got more feedback. I’m slightly embarrassed but I was just doing what I felt was right at the time. Mistake #52,786 Anyway, everything you guys said makes sense and yes I’m a recent grad… so much to learn haha. Thank you again everyone! ✌

    Reply
    1. UnderpaidinSeattle

      You just took a bunch of constructive feedback well and with grace without getting defensive. You are officially well ahead of many of your fellow recent grads for that skill alone.

      Reply
      1. phedre

        And it’s not just recent grads – I’ve worked with people of all ages who can’t take constructive feedback. So kudos to you Kayla!

        And don’t be embarrassed- we all have mortifying things we did when we were just starting out. It takes a while to learn professional norms and how to navigate the workplace. I don’t want to even think about the dumb stuff I did when first starting out!

        Reply
    2. Falling Diphthong

      Seconding Underpaid. The older I get, the more I realize that “It’s easier to apologize than to ask permission” is terrible advice. One of those tactics that works well if you are in a sitcom, and causes everyone to work around you in real life.

      Adding on to the people just upthread who said to cherish the person who told you not to do this–as seen in the discussion of hiding behind the trash cans rather than review anyone’s manuscript, there’s an instinct from friends and family to give a first order ‘sure, that looks great, you look great’ and not dig deeper, and occasionally you really need someone digging deeper.

      A couple of weeks back there is a really excellent Ask The Readers thread about things you wish you had known when you were new to work, that I really recommend. I was recently at a panel for college students, and one thing that struck me is how hard it is to translate advice like ‘mentors are great to have’ and ‘you get jobs by networking’ into practical advice a noobie can use working forward organically without awkward flailing, rather than lessons you can extract looking backward. (The exact actions that made your second boss a gem, where landing with them was largely luck; and chatting up the people who volunteer at the library got you the connection to someone’s friend’s husband who was hiring in your field.)

      Reply
    3. NotAnotherManager!

      Out of curiosity, what type of jobs are you applying for? There are people here from a lot of different fields that may be able to provide some industry-specific advice that would be more useful to you.

      Best of luck with your job search!

      Reply
      1. Kayla

        I have a masters degree in social work but I’m trying to go toward the macro side of it so not direct service or counseling. I’m finally starting to get interviews (mostly due to this sites advice) so I’m almost there! I just need to keep applying and sticking with the standard application stuff. Trust me the video is out the window haha

        Reply
    4. anonymouscontent

      good luck in your job search! The fact that you knew enough to ask if it was ok shows that you have a lot of promise!

      Reply
  34. Gimmick Worked for Me

    For an admin coordinator position, I submitted a PowerPoint presentation after I had been given an interview time. I knew who I would be interviewing with and sent it directly to the hiring manager. She then forwarded it to the other staff I would be working with and would be attending the interview. I got the job. After I had been in the role for a few months they brought it up. They said they were impressed by it, the initiative and the fact that it conveyed that I was able to use PowerPoint which would be a function of the job. I probably wouldn’t do this now but it actually went over very well and every now and then it was brought up in a positive light. It definitely wasn’t a situation where I got the job in spite of the PowerPoint. They clearly pointed out that it gave me an edge and nudged their decision (I actually was under qualified for the job). Again, I would not try this now.

    Reply
    1. anonymouscontent

      That was after you had the interview though. I think that’s the distinguishing factor for me.

      Reply
  35. GermanGirl

    I’ve only ever seen one Gimmick that I thought wasn’t a total waste of space. An applicant for a research position had a list of publications with links to them but he’d obviously thought that links are kind of cumbersome on a printed resume so he put the QR-Code for the links next to the papers in his publications section. Mind you, he also made the links clickable in the PDF so the QR-Codes where somewhat overkill but you never know what happens to your resume after it arrives in the jobs@some.company inbox, so I thought the thought was good – but of course it’s only relevant if you have something that’s worth linking to, like research publications for a research position or a website you designed for a webdesign position or whatever.

    Reply
  36. Daria Grace

    There’s a good change youtube or wherever else you plan to post the video will be blocked on work computers so in the unlikely event they want to watch the video, they may not be able to

    Reply
  37. Lindrine

    If you still want to test your video skills, practice making a few short 1-5 minute videos around a job skill (think teaching people some excel tricks you may know). Keep them private to start. You will get better at them. Once you have a few, you can go back and redo them and edit them and then make the really nice ones public on a youtube channel you create.

    Reply
  38. Always in email jail

    I don’t want to sound mean, but I do want to be honest. IF I watched a video like that before putting it into the “no” pile it would just be like “omg you guys someone submitted a video I hope it’s not a manifesto or something let’s watch”.
    Submitting things like this I don’t ask for turns an applicant into a “no” quickly. I want someone who does the work I assign, and does it really well. I don’t want someone who doesn’t follow directions and does their own thing they think is “better”, without regard for the fact I asked for a certain format for a reason.

    Reply
  39. Bad impression, embarrassing video, awkward response

    I received a “thank you” video post-interview. I shared it without comment with the search committee. It quickly became viral (not in a good way) in our office. It was embarrassing and demonstrated a lack of knowing the audience. The interviewee, when I called to let her know she would not get the job, asked me what I thought about video. I was nice, but honest. It wasn’t the reason she didn’t get it, but had it been a close call this would have dropped her down in my estimation.

    Please don’t do this.

    Reply
  40. Office Manager

    I recently got into a Facebook argument with a relative about this very subject. She’s a college professor, and she’s actively teaching her (large classroom, gen ed) students that “resumes are dead” and that people need to submit links to online portfolios instead, which ideally include videos of skills. I respectfully rebutted her opinion and told her that, as the person who does the first read of job applicants, I would never blindly follow a link that someone sent me and that resumes were essential. An online portfolio might be the norm in some very specific jobs, but it’s not the norm in most of corporate America. But, she has a PhD, and therefore is always right and I am always wrong.

    Reply
  41. anonymouscontent

    All of these gimmicks they recommend now show poor enough judgement that I absolutely will put people who do them in the “no” pile without much consideration at all. I’m sure I’m missing out on some great hires, but I don’t have a lot of time for hiring at all, and this stuff just shows a serious lack of knowledge of how the working world works.

    Reply
  42. SheLooksFamiliar

    I’ve been in corporate staffing for over 25 years, and I’ve seen just about every tactic, approach, idea, and gimmick you can imagine – repeatedly. I’ve gotten resumes via 9×12 envelope, FedEx, UPS, DHL, local messenger service, FTD (in a bouquet), attached to a teddy bear left in our front lobby, in a large balloon I was supposed to pop open with a pen helpfully embossed with the candidate’s name and phone number, blown up to poster size and delivered in a mailing tube, on neon paper, in leather portfolios…you get the idea. I’ve also gotten presentations via VHS, then DVD, then via links to websites and Google Drives. ‘Setting yourself apart’ is not a new concept, and each generation has to learn for themselves, I guess.

    So I recommend that applicants stop trying to ‘set themselves apart’ in the early stage and just follow directions. There’s usually a very good reason for the requests (OFCCP compliance, the large volume of responses, specific needs for the department), and trying to work around the application process doesn’t make applicants stand out in any good way. I can tell you from experience that even the most ‘I’ll hire my team my way’, HR-hating hiring managers who get flooded with candidates trying to ‘set themselves apart’ very quickly learn why we stick to an application process. I can also tell you those setter-aparters are rarely qualified for the role in question.

    Once you get to the interview stage, you are no longer an applicant – you are a candidate – and there is a more fluid discovery process in place. Gimmicks don’t work here, either, so show the company what a great candidate you are without all the distractions. Ask questions about the role, the team, the company, and show that you’re a professional. Unless you are specifically asked to provide ancillary materials, please drop the creative ways to ‘stand out.’

    Reply
  43. Jessica

    I once was sent a link to a video resume when I was hiring, and I clicked on the link out of fascination (while also knowing there was no way I’d hire someone who sent a video resume). The link turned out to be a virus! So now I’d really never click on a link to a video resume.

    Reply
  44. Quietkindofdying

    While I can definitely see how video applications would be inappropriate for most sectors, I’ve noticed employers making a case for them in publicity work where social media etc. is important. I’ve been applying for entry-level work in publishing/publicity over the last couple of months and have come across employers encouraging video applications at least three times: one graduate scheme position where a video application was mandatory, one publicity position where a video (“or whatever application format best represents YOU”) was strongly encouraged, and one article where a company said their recent hire’s video application had been a big factor in making them take notice and put her through to the next stage.
    It’s not something I’ve done so far unless mandatory, but in this sector at least it doesn’t seem like as many managers have the instinctive “no” reaction most people seem to have here? (Unsure whether this is a good/bad/indifferent thing!)

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Before you comment: Please be kind, stay on-topic, and follow the site's commenting rules.
You can report an ad, tech, or typo issue here.

Subscribe to all comments on this post by RSS