do not use a video resume

A reader forwarded me this email from a job applicant, which she notes was “sent after we posted a job listing with the explicit instructions to follow a link and apply through our online form”:

Here’s my video resume – it highlights my experience, qualifications, etc.:

It’s about 2 minutes, then it downloads my paper resume, references, etc. I have a lot of experience in this area. After reviewing my resume I think you’ll agree I’m the person for the job.

The reader’s comment:

A video? Really? And I have to sit through it to get to your paper resume? Is this becoming popular for real, or is it just another gimmick that people are trying?

Yeah, it’s yet another bad idea being sold to job-seekers by people who don’t hire and thus have no real idea what’s effective with employers and what isn’t. Add it to the growing list, along with “creative” resume designs, QR codes, and other gimmicks that no one who actually hires people for a living recommends.

If you take a look at the people pushing video resumes, they’re all either (a) making money in some way off of it or (b) self-appointed career “experts” with no significant experience managing and hiring (which should deny them that right to advise on any of these topics, but that’s another post).

If you feel like doing this guy a favor and simultaneously giving the bad-career-advice industry the slap-back that they deserve, I’d send him a quick note back and say, “Like most employers, we don’t accept video resumes. Please follow our application instructions if you’d like to be considered.”

{ 74 comments… read them below }

    1. Josh S*

      I was totally hoping that would be the “My wife hired a hit man to kill me–but she didn’t pay enough” guy.


        1. Katie*

          Part of me thinks that’s fake, but part of me doesn’t care.

          “2000 dollars is not enough to get that done right.”

  1. sab*

    I’d also steer clear of video resumes because you don’t really know if they’re truly legit. I was previously an admin at a small business where my boss had me post open positions on Craigslist. One of the first “applications” I received was a blurb about how they’re interested in the position and would I please take a look at their video resume. I thought it sounded sketchy since no mention of the company was made in the email, and lo, Google showed me I was right as it’s a common scam and virus. That definitely put me (and my bosses) off from video resumes, although I would hope scammy viruses aren’t the case for regular job posting sites.

    And besides, video resumes are just silly. :P

  2. The IT Manager*

    I wonder about the naivety of the applicant because who in their right mind thinks this is a good idea? He’s probably a tv star wannnabe from the Jersey Shore or something. Applicant thought process: “I know you get hundreds of applicants, but I am going to make you sit through a 2 minute video to get to my resume because I’m just that awesome.”

    There are a very small number of jobs that this might fly for but since the OP is asking, its clear that its not this industry.

    1. Anonymous*

      My college career center actually recommended making video resumes. I’m sure the candidates doing this have good intentions, but are being mislead. I find it all bizarre! I’m glad I didn’t take their advice.

    1. ExceptionToTheRule*

      That’s not entirely accurate. Or fair. Other than Hollywood, there is an industry that relies heavily on video resumes – local TV broadcasting. Except we call them resume tapes. Anchors, reporters, photojournalists, producers, graphic designers, and directors are all expected to have one. And preemptively, the only thing that our business has in common with Hollywood is that you can see both end products on TV.

      We are not expected to make a hiring manager sit through one to get to our traditional resume, however.

  3. Anonymous*

    What if a company is advocating this? I am trying to get a job with Zappos, and they do suggest doing this. Granted, have been rejected each time, but I am trying everything they suggest.

    1. Verde*

      If they are asking you to do it, then you should follow their instructions and do so, though that seems weird to me as it could be a discriminatory hiring practice.

      However, when you’re instructed to fill out an online application and submit your resume there, it does not mean email it in and force someone to watch a video in order to see your paper resume. In fact, don’t email anything – just go to the link and apply, dang it!

    2. Surlyhrgiel*

      Zappo’s is historically a creativity-driven company, which values its customer service very highly. I would think that they want to make sure you have plenty of zip and go-gett-em-ness to be on their team, and that would come across in a video resume.

      Otherwise, to me it would stink of a company wanting to weed out people of races or ethnicities or body types/attractiveness that they didn’t want.

        1. molly*

          Oh god, I worked at american apparel as a manager for about a year and quit because of how rediculous the policies were. They DO take a picture of you before you get hired. I’m sure you have heard that Dov Charney is an absolute pervert…well its true. Multiple girls have tried to sue him for things he has said/done to them while they worked there. There is a document you have to sign when you first start working at AA that basically allows him to say/do whatever he wants to you. Most girls just sign it without reading through. DONT do it!!!! Worst company to work for everrrr.

    3. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Yeah, Zappos is known for having an untraditional approach to hiring/retention. (They will pay people to leave if they decide during training the job isn’t right for them, and I think they’re sort of like Southwest in hiring for personality over experience.)

      1. Jamie*

        I think Method (the soap people) is like this as well.

        They ask in your interview to show your weirdness. Some woman led an impromptu yoga class in her interview, someone else borrowed an employee’s guitar and started a sing along…

        I’d have been praying I wouldn’t wet myself from anxiety as I ran to my car! They were definitely screening for people who fit their vision, I’ll give them that.

      2. Cody Cadenhead*

        I worked for Southwest and one of the biggest regrets I have is quitting there to go to work in a “professional” job.

    4. Cindy*

      A lot of shoes for sale on Zappos have a little video where an employee describes the shoes. It’s kind of charming, because the people in the videos look like normal people that work for the company doing customer service or whatever, not models. Maybe they like to see if you’ll be comfortable on camera?

  4. Cody Cadenhead*

    This is the Barney Stinson approach from How I Met Your Mother! Did the person have a made up word and lots of explosions and CGI?

  5. Ali*

    I have sort of seen this on some job applications, where the employer will ask you to send a video “elevator pitch” explaining why you are the best person for the job. I did it once hoping to get an invite to an industry-specific job fair, but it was so awkward and not my favorite thing to do (I HATE being on camera in family photos and videos, let alone for an employer). I always feel like the paper resume/cover letter should be enough.

    1. fposte*

      Argh. Compounded offense–applicants don’t *know* why they’re the best person for the job, because they don’t know the field.

  6. AnotherAlison*

    I’d be tempted to advise the OP to not send this person any feedback, no matter how badly you want to.

    I can see one of those “career experts” saying, “See, it worked. You got attention. Unlike those 500 saps who used the online app submittal system and went straight into the cyber black hole, you now have a contact person who recognizes your name. That’s something!”

    1. Verde*

      I would think that in job-hunting, the “any attention is better than no attention even if it’s bad attention” rule would not be a good thing.

      First off, the person’s email (I sent it in) didn’t have their name even in the ID line, just the email address. So, you have to dig through the email to find it. No sig file to make it stand out, either. Secondly, even if I could remember their name, it would go on the “oh, that person [again]” list. Which means every time I saw it, I would automatically go back to this situation and question their credentials/skill set/instinct, etc. and they probably still would not make it out of said black hole.

      What I do in all of these situations is send a generic email that states that any resume received outside of the online application system will not be considered, here’s the link, please apply there. If they really want it, they go apply. If not, we never hear from them again.

    2. Bridgette*

      “Now go email them every day until you get that job! Impress them with your tiger-like aggressiveness! Rawr!”

      1. Verde*

        Yes! Followed by:
        “And make sure you demand a specific answer of them as to when they expect to be reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, when you can expect to be interviewed, and why you haven’t received a call yet as you are obviously the most qualified. Demand it, it’s your right!”

          1. Anonymous*

            “Entitlement” is not a generational characteristic, AJ. It irritates me when people make broad sweeping generalizations about age demographics.

            1. AJ in Memphis*

              Sorry you were irritated. My opinion is just that – mine. And broad sweeping generalizations are cool with me today.

              1. Broke Philosopher*

                It is an opinion, but be aware that it is extremely frustrating to those of us in this supposed “entitlement generation” who work hard, show appreciation for anyone who help us out, and are grateful for any job to be told that we must be very entitled simply because of our age.

                1. Anonymous*

                  Also, he mentions that he’s interviewing now. I feel sorry for any young person that is interviewing with him, even if the interviewee is doing everything right by dressing in professional clothing, asking the right questions, showing up on time and showing knowledge and enthusiasm in the position and company.

                2. Ask a Manager* Post author

                  Well, come on, every generation has been accused of that when they’re the ones new to adulthood. It’s nothing new. And even when people characterize a whole generation one way, they rarely apply it to individual members of that generation until given reason to. (I mean, I think your generation as a whole is weirdly comfortable sharing personal things on the Internet, but I don’t think that about specific individual 20somethings until/unless they give me reason to.)

  7. Sparky629*

    FTR, I wouldn’t suggest using TV as a model for your lifestyle. No matter how many shows have reality in the title.

  8. Emily*

    Oh my gods, two minutes? That’s about 6 times longer than I spend on the initial review of an application.

    1. Kit M.*

      Exactly! I don’t like videos because they force me to get the information at a slower rate than I normally would.

      1. Rana*


        Hell, I even hate it when someone links to one in my Facebook feed.

        Not only is it a slower release of information, it feels like it uses a different part of my brain, and if I’m in visual-reading mode, I really resent having to switch into visual-listening mode and back.

    2. Julia*

      Mind you though, it’s about ten times less time than it would take the candidate to fill out the infernal form.

  9. Blinx*

    Wow. This post just gave me an enjoyable way to fill an entire afternoon! Search YouTube for “bad video resumes”. Lots of good spoofs, and lots of serious fails.

  10. BW*

    Did he deliberately leave the “R” of of resume, like “esume” – like it’s supposed to be some hip new word for “electronic resume”. Seriously, it’s so ridiculous, I can’t tell if the misspelling is part of the ridiculousness or a true type.

  11. AJ in Memphis*

    MY issue with this situation is that the job seeker’s biggest FAIL was not following instructions in the first place. Why on earth would you send me something that completely contradicts what has asked of you to do to apply for this job? To stand out from the crowd? And yes, it does make you stand out – in the “NO” pile. This is why employers are starting to complain that are no “qualified applicants” to fill their positions. If you can’t follow simple instructions, then you aren’t qualified for the job. **I’m interviewing right now so I get the frustration behind this question**

    1. Emily*

      In my last job where I did a lot of hiring work, it was a really eye-opening experience. I had no idea the extent to which I had “stood out” from 80% of my competition in previous jobs simply by following instructions and writing coherently.

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I keep trying to tell people that! You stand out by writing a great cover letter, having a resume that shows a track record of achievement, and being responsive/enthusiastic/etc. No gimmicks needed.

      2. PuppyKat*

        Yes! Once I found out that I had received an interview for a job because, in addition to my qualifications, I actually followed the hiring person’s instructions to submit my materials as PDFs. Apparently around 75 – 80% of the other applicants didn’t follow his instructions and were immediately disqualified.

        (I also ended up getting the job.)

    1. Jen in RO*

      I’m a random person on the internet and *I* didn’t have the patience. (Nevertheless, I liked the video and, if it was sent in addition to the usual resume + cover letter, I think it would work.)

      1. Neeta*

        Oh definitely. Kind of like, what you’d send for those job postings that require a portfolio as proof of your abilities.

  12. MLHD*

    As a warning, I believe it may be a growing trend for these to actually be viruses/spyware/etc. Our company received an email from a “candidate” with a very short and generic message asking us to view her video resume. When you get to the site it says you are missing the plug-in to view the video. My boss was curious so she downloaded the plug-in but it still didn’t work. That’s when she sent it to me to see if I could get it to work. Well when I looked at the page I noticed several red flags in the email and on the webpage itself and determined that this was likely some kind of virus or malware. So be careful in any case if you receive anything like this!

  13. Elise*

    I think it would be nice in the opposite order. Give the resume or fill out the form and provide the video in a separate attachment or with a link on the paper resume. That way you can first check if the person meets the requirements for the position and view their skills and then watch the video if you are actually interested in the candidate.

  14. Katie*

    So, this isn’t really related to the post per se, but it got me thinking: what’s the sell by date on hiring experience? How much time do you think would have to pass before your experience hiring people is no longer relevant to current hiring practices? Would you be able to trust someone who hired 5 years ago? 10? 2o?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I’d say you want it to be within 10 years at the absolute outside, and even that might be pushing it, given how quickly hiring practices have changed (and also how the recession has affected them). Probably partly depends on the person too — how good they were at it, how astute, etc.

  15. Rob*

    Unless the job description specifically asks for something other than a traditional resume/cover letter, why do anything else? It’s just a waste of time and nothing else!

  16. Rachel - Former HR Blogger*

    I have received pretty much word for word that email. The fact that the resume downloads at the end was a red flag of a scam for me and thus I did not click the link. Now that I see the exact same email, I’m even more certain that it’s a scam/virus.

  17. Mel*

    I was recently hiring for a position and two resumes stood out–and not in a good way. The first was a video resume. However , it needed a plu-in to be viewed. I never bothered watching it.

    The other resume was a web resume. The background was a giant American flag blowing in the wind in front of a sparkling golden cross. “God Bless America” played in the background. I don’t remember anything about his resume–I didn’t bother to read it. We have people of all backgrounds and belief systems in our company, but his resume scared me off.

  18. George*

    I strongly disagree. As a hiring manager, why not?

    I have 25 years in career services, hiring, and HR. I am so sick of the standard resume. It is almost guaranteed to have lies on it, is very boring to go through, and I really can’t get into what stands out for them. A video resume that talks about their favorite positions and talks about who they are can be very useful. If I have this playing and can read an actual resume, I ask why not? Just allows me to learn a bit more about a candidate. I am sick of having candidates come in and I know within 15 seconds that they are not qualified.

  19. Niall*

    I submitted a creative video, which took about 25 man-hours to make, in response to an anonymous, yet competitive, NYC job posting… Within an 2 hours I was in the office for an interview, and received a job offer later that day.

    Although I’ll agree that not all openings will merit a video, I disagree with the tone of this post; video’s can be submitted with taste and relevancy. Also, when hiring managers have a pool of hundreds or thousands of resumes to sort through, sometimes using alternative strategies are an obligation to overcome the shortcomings of a weaker resume. That said, a video is better substituted for a cover letter, not a resume.

  20. Bjorn*

    I think a short “infomercial” style resume to complement your other collateral (standard, LinkedIn, infographic, etc.) can be a useful communication tool, but like all other branding elements it shouldn’t be obnoxious or demanding. When designing my video resume I tried to think along the lines of “earning the right to engage the viewer” with interesting content rather than forcing them to “sit through” my presentation.

Comments are closed.