how to deal with gimmicky recruiters

A reader writes:

I’ve just come home from one of the oddest professional experiences I’ve ever had.

A large recruiting company in my area invited me in for an initial meeting/screening with one of its recruiters for an unnamed position with a local nonprofit trade association focusing on outdoor activities. The meeting began with an abbreviated interview with silly questions like “what high school did you attend?” We then moved on to a 30-second, three-question video resume, of sorts.

Apparently, they have used the video resume set up through another company for 3 years. The recruiter claimed that less than 1 percent of job candidates have such a tool and said it makes people stand out. Personally, I find it terribly gimmicky and am not impressed.

Another point of concern for me was the emphasis on putting down every single minor detail about all jobs on my resume for my electronic account on the video resume website. The recruiter told me it’s best to use as many of the 4,000 characters allotted as possible, even for jobs you had nearly a decade ago. It makes so little sense to me, especially as I am shifting my career in an entirely new direction.

Am I wrong to believe that hiring managers are too busy to read upwards of 15 bullets about my first professional job from 2004? Would it not be better to place more attention and emphasis on the present?

Please let me know your thoughts on this. I am eager to be employed; my motto is “a new job for the new year.” Also, do you have any suggestions for dealing with antiquated and/or gimmicky recruiters?

Well, most importantly — don’t. Don’t deal with recruiters who push gimmicks like video resumes (favored by maybe three hiring managers in the whole world), or who tell you things that run counter to common sense and counter to what you hear from the majority of real hiring managers. (Because yes, you are right that we do not want you to use as many as you can of the 4,000 characters allotted to you for each job, no matter how old or insignificant. Like most normal people you know in business environments, we want to get the relevant facts as concisely as possible, without distracting filler.)

One of the nice things about job searching is that if something seems crazy or off-putting to you, you can probably trust your instincts. And if someone is pushing advice on you that seems crazy or off-putting, you should feel free to dismiss that person’s advice — all of it, as they are now officially suspect in this realm. In the case of a recruiter like this one, you might choose to take job leads from them, but I wouldn’t invest much time in them beyond that, and definitely wouldn’t let them talk you into doing stuff that you know is ineffective.

{ 25 comments… read them below }

  1. Victoria HR*

    Video resumes are ridiculous. They only open hiring managers up to discrimination and bias charges if they hire someone more attractive/different gender or race or ethnicity/etc. Decisions about who to bring in for an interview need to be made on a candidate’s merits and accomplishments, not how well he/she pulls of a video presentation (unless that is the only thing he/she would be doing in the prospective job).

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Plus, they’re totally inefficient! There’s no way to skim like you can with a regular resume. No hiring manager wants to sit through two minutes of video; we want to skim in 20 seconds and decide if we’re interested in more.

      1. Rana*

        No kidding. I hate it when people send me links to videos instead of text summaries (unless cute cats are involved) so I can imagine that getting resumes that way would be even more annoying.

    2. KarenT*

      I don’t know about opening managers up to discrimination/bias charges because managers (typically) only hire after meeting people in person, which opens them up to the same bias potential.
      That being said, man, video resumes are ridiculous. I, however, have never been sent one and am getting really curious. If someone sent one to me I would most definitely watch it.

      1. Victoria HR*

        If someone doesn’t get selected for an interview because of their race/gender/nationality/etc, then it has definitely set up a discrimination case. By the time someone gets to the face-to-face interview, typically their credentials are what got them to that point, so it’s harder to discriminate on protected factors. It’s just not worth it IMO.

        1. KarenT*

          I’m not in support of video resumes, but a hiring manager determined to discriminate can very often do so from a resume. Names reveal a lot (Goldstein, Chang, Guarez etc., all reveal ethnicities/cultures) as do past associations.
          I think a video resume is bad for so many reasons, but if someone wanted hire based on video resumes, I don’t think discrimination potential would be a compelling enough reason not to.

        2. JT*

          If the organization has a mix of pretty and ugly people, people of a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds, ages, sexual orientations, etc in a variety of positions, I don’t think that fear of lawsuits is a problem with video resumes. That they suck as a form of communication is the problem.

        3. Joey*

          No, no ,no. Dont be so scared. The risks are no higher than any other situation where you see a candidate before you offer them a job. Getting an interview doesn’t stop people from claiming discrimination, they sue because they didn’t get hired. And in almost all cases you see them before you hire them.

          Although I don’t like video resumes I have seen some folks ask candidates phone screen type questions and have them answer via recorded video. It’s more polished than I’m making it sound, but its intriguing to have answers to specific questions recorded which makes the whole scheduling thing go away. Not sure where I stand on it until I see it in action longer. Of course it’s easy to come up with all kinds of reasons not to do it, but I figure technology is going to change how we interview sooner or later.

    3. AP*

      I once got a really, terribly, awfully done video resume for an entry level position and showed it to a few of my co-workers. 2 of them agreed that it was a train wreck and we would clearly not be calling this guy, the 3rd thought it was an amazing piece of brilliance and we should bring him in immediately. I guess some people are visual learners and lovers of gimmicks, but most are not.

      Also, I work in film, so the bad graphics/editing/lighting were held even more against this guy than they would have been elsewhere.

      1. OPforVideoResume*

        Thanks for sharing your video resume story, AP.

        I believe that my experience was on par with yours in the “train wreck” arena. The recruiter gave me a choice of three questions from a list of 10, and I chose to talk about my motivation, what I sought from a company and the attributes I believed I brought to a position. All of the questions were very generic, and I was discouraged from developing anecdotal and specific responses.

        The entire “resume” is only about 30 seconds and features just a bust-style pose of me in front of a gray cloud style backdrop. It’s far from the first impression I wanted to make, but the recruiter seemed pleased with it and kept smiling, nodding and giving me enthusiastic thumbs up.

        Again, I’m still not sure about either the quality or effectiveness of video resumes. However, I doubt that I will be using mine or the services of this recruiter or his agency again.

        1. AP*

          Augh…at least it had a neutral background! I can’t remember exactly but I think the one saw had “fun” vacation pics and moving multi-colored graphic backgrounds.

        2. Elizabeth West*

          Jeez. Did this recruiter used to work at a dating service? Because that’s what the setup sounds like.

          The only place for a video resume is in broadcasting or similar fields, where you would be expected to provide clips. I can’t see it as useful in any other context.

  2. Rob Bird*

    *Video Resume* Hi! My name is Rob. I like moonlit walks, puppy dogs, and Excel Spreadsheets. I am an Excel-ent communicator, have a rocking mullet, and drive a ’78 Camero *winks at the camera and does the double shooter*

  3. Rob Bird*

    Seriously though, this recruting company is completly out of touch with the needs of the employers. AAM is right on the money; what employer wants to sit through hours of video to get what they want?

    Victoria HR is correct as well; it does set them up for a discrimination suit if someone of a protected class doesn’t get hired.

  4. AdAgencyChick*

    I just can’t fathom a recruiter asking me, as a hiring manager, to watch a bunch of video resumes of candidates s/he was trying to present to me. I’d just work with another recruiter.

    1. Anon*

      I also feel like my HR department would put an immediate kibosh on anything that reveals more about age/gender/race/whatever protected class than we’d already know from a paper resume.

  5. Anonymous*

    Recruiters no longer know how to stay in business. Companies are realizing they can do their own recruiting and save money. So recruitment agencies are going for gimmicky tricks to try to stand out from other agencies and do something different. It’s just silly.

  6. Anonymous*

    Okay – im not a recruiter. I’ll start with that. And the video part is just silly. But there is one place where sometimes counter intuitive application ‘rules’ can work – government jobs.

    There can be so many hoops to jump through, and good recruiters know how to hit all the right hoops. But it can come across as ridiculous to the untrained eye.

  7. Coelura*

    I have gotten video resumes in the past and have immediately discounted the candidates for a very simple reason – I can’t watch the videos from within our company firewall. In order to watch the videos, I have to forward the link to my home PC & watch the videos at home. So if the candidate only submits a video resume, I don’t consider the candidate at all. If the candidate submits both written & video resumes, I only review the written submission.

  8. twentymilehike*

    I can’t watch the videos from within our company firewall

    Great point.

    Personally, I don’t watch any video of anything that anyone sends me. Usually, the videos that get emailed around are not that interesting, take up too much time since I can read way faster than you can talk, and everyone in my office is within earshot of my computer speakers and I’m not interested in broadcasting whatever I’m watching.

    That being said, I’m also assuming that unless a job listing specifically requests a video, it just shows that you can’t follow directions. It’s been at least a couple of years since my office has hired anyone, and I still seem to get bombarded by resumes that I just file away. With the exception of the ones I get weekly (and report as SPAM) and the people who keep calling to see if we’re hiring. Those go in the circular file.

Comments are closed.