Video Resumes – Best Practices

Camera pointing a person sitting in front of bookshelves

Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

A few years ago, I thought that Video Resumes were more of a fad than a trend. However, in talking with people, I am finding that they are gaining some traction. Perhaps it was only a matter of time. Many employers in all sectors already use video interviewing as a step in their hiring process, and of course producers routinely consider people’s reels for many industry jobs.

However a video resume is not the same as a reel and should be considered an adjunct to your written resume rather than a replacement. Nor does it work for every job title. Producers and UPM’s are busy people. A video resume is more appropriate for department heads and their immediate assistants than for entry level jobs. As one producer I talked to remarked, “I don’t have time to look at PA videos.”

If you do want to create a video resume, it should be well done. Here are some tips that mostly apply to all industries, not just entertainment:

  1. Brevity – it should be very short. It should never be more than 2 minutes and 60 seconds is better. Write your script hitting the high points of your resume, with some great metrics such as the budget you worked with, the number of people you supervised, or the success of the project as a whole. Think of it as a slightly extended elevator pitch. Another way to know what to say is to write the answers to some specific questions like “How am I qualified to do this job?”, “What are my three greatest strengths as a [job title]?”, “What project am I most proud of and why?”, and “How did I come to be doing this job?”. Then EDIT your answers. Be ruthless.
  2. Practice. You should practice enough that you move through the sounding awkward phase, until the words come smoothly, and as reasonably close to conversational as possible. But remember that this is actually a quite formal setting. If you wouldn’t say a phrase in a job interview with strangers, don’t say it here.
  3. Add a little visual variety – include visuals referencing your portfolio, images of projects, or clips from your reel as you speak. Start with a full body shot, show your images, and then cut back in to a medium close-up. In the absence of other images, you can even use a shot of your printed resume.
  4. Be aware of the technical elements. Have proper lighting, make sure your shots are in focus, ensure clear audio, and certainly check your background. Keep it simple and tidy. Shoot a screen test to check on everything first. At the same time, you don’t have to make this a major production. You don’t need a soundtrack (unless you are a composer I guess.)
  5. Pay attention to your own presentation – dress as if you were going to an interview. Consider getting professional help for hair and makeup.
  6. Have your contact information visually at the head AND the tail.
  7. Include a clear Call-to-Action towards the end. Your video resume should be purposeful. Consider it at an introduction to encourage prospective employers to check out your written resume, website or IMDb/LinkedIn page. Have the link to one of these sites – you offer just one so they don’t have to choose – expressed both visually and said aloud.

Remember that the goal of any resume – video or written – is to get you an interview. When they call you come and meet face-to-face, be the same person they saw on the video when you walk in the door.

And that right there gives you one of the biggest downsides of video resumes. They are a lot more work to update with your most recent gig or project and keep current than a written resume. So when you are considering how much it might cost to have one shot and edited for you – caveat emptor.