Video CV – Should You or Shouldn’t You?

A CV is the seed that sprouts into your career opportunities. Get it wrong and you could be doomed to a series of esteem-crushing rejections. Get it right and you could be at the centre of a war between companies who all want to hire you.

But let’s face the facts: CVs are boring, and it’s difficult to make one that stands out. That’s where video CVs come in. Just as it did to the radio star, has video killed the traditional CV? Perhaps not yet. Text-based CVs still far outnumber their visual counterparts, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be effective.

In light of that, here are some of the benefits and drawbacks of making a video CV, sorted into the popular ‘pros and cons’ format for your convenience.

Pro – Video CVs showcase your creativity

Making a decent video CV proves many things: you can shoot and edit video footage; you can put together a script; you can finish a potentially fruitless project without giving up; and you have way too much free time on your hands. But above all this, it proves you can think creatively.

An uninspired thinker downloads a CV template and forgets to change the filename from ‘CVTemplate1.doc’. A bold creative thinker prints out a CV template and tears it up in protest. Then they pick up a video camera.

Nick Belling, a video CV advocate who put his resume online to inspire others, says “the best companies don’t want stock-standard employees, so do something to stand out of the pack.” He did this:

And he got a job.

Con – A bad video CV can be the source of major embarrassment

There is an evil twin to the above ‘Pro’ – making a bad video CV will not display creativity, but hubris. If your video CV is badly put together, too long, too short, too bland or too cringe-inducing, you may come across as someone who thinks enough of themselves to make a video CV, but has none of the skills to actually pull it off.

This brings to mind the rather tragic story of Aleksey Vayner, a man whose video CV was so packed with exaggerated claims and pompous hypothesizing that he was ridiculed on the internet for years until his passing in 2013. Which means it’s harder to laugh at how ridiculous this video is. Harder, but not impossible. Nothing is impossible.

Pro – Video CVs can display your personality

You can’t get to know someone from a list of qualifications. An A+ in Sociology does nothing to display your keen wit. It’s hard to display any wit in a traditional CV, no matter how keen. Most candidates use video CVs to express themselves in a way they can’t within the strict confines of a paper CV.

This video CV from Mark Leruste shows the subject’s wacky sense of humour and the rapid-fire mumbling you would have to get used to if you hired him.

This one from Sajita Nair emphasises her professionalism and the remarkable restraint it takes to make a video CV without using a ‘ping’ sound effect when text appears on screen.

Con – Video CVs can display your personality

This is a ‘Con’ if you are not a nice person.

Pro – ‘Quirky’ employers will love a video CV

If you are applying for jobs at companies where the boss is likely to read your CV hanging in a hammock, drinking a low-fat soya yoghurt drink from a curly straw, a video CV will go down like a gluten-free treat.

Any kind of creative company will likely enjoy a video CV, especially if they deal in film or marketing. If anything, it would be mad not to display your filmmaking skills at some point in your application to a filmmaking company, so why not do it in your CV?

Con – Different people will have different opinions

On the flip side, a more conventional company dealing in a formal industry will likely have no time for your videographed nonsense. In the end, it all comes down the tastes of each employer, which means making a video CV is risky.

Even though much of our communication now happens through video, a traditional CV is still the only way to play it safe. But if you wanted to play it safe, you wouldn’t even consider making a video CV, would you?