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Video Resumes: Illusions and Realities

In all but a few fields, the video resume does nothing more than create the illusion that you're accomplishing something in your job search. In reality, it may do more to harm your job candidacy than help it. To understand this illusion, let's look at the employment market from the recruiter's and legal department's perspectives.

Recruiter's View

A corporate recruiter may have to review hundreds of resumes to identify a short list of candidates to interview. The recruiter's objective is efficiency. They spend only 10 to 20 seconds to scan a resume, but viewing a video resume can take several minutes; therefore testing their patience and wasting their time.

In fact, we conducted an informal survey among the Boston Recruiters Network (a Yahoo group of 750 recruiting professionals) and found that an overwhelming 81% of recruiting professionals do not feel video resumes are useful. Only 15% feel video resumes are valuable or may eventually replace traditional resumes.

Legally Speaking

Viewing a video resume may also be a legally risky way to screen applicants. Employment laws clearly state that applicants may be assessed only on qualities that are directly related to performing the job requirements. Viewing a video resume makes employers nervous because it could increase the risk of an employment lawsuit.

A video resume gives them a lot of information that's unrelated to the applicant's qualifications for the job and, in most cases, it's illegal to discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, size, or sexual orientation – factors that may manifest themselves in a video resume.

What Video Resumes Do Well

Despite the drawbacks, video itself is very compelling and engages the viewer in a way traditional resumes cannot. When done well, a video resume can definitely set you apart from the competition if you're an actor, professional speaker, or newscaster, all roles in which appearance and voice are bona fide job qualifications.

For everyone else, the video resume may help if you want to introduce yourself to a would-be employer that might not have an available opening. They can at least use the video resume as a way of getting to know you should there be an appropriate future opening.

Further, in this age of customizable resumes, the video resume may limit your ability to send a unique, tailored marketing pitch to each employer you want to target.


At this point, a video resume should not be the centerpiece of your job search strategy. Creating a video resume may make you feel like you're doing something significant, very few recruiters will take the time to look at it. If you're in a performance-related field and you don't mind the risks that come with showing yourself on video, go ahead and use it. For the rest of us, a well-written resume that demonstrates the specific value we can offer the prospective employer is still the way to go.

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