Behind the Times?

I usually think of myself as pretty on top of it when it comes to social networking and being technologically savvy. As part of that, I recognize that it’s important to maintain an online presence that is attractive to current and potential employers. I’ve maintained an account on LinkedIn for years now, and update it semi-regularly with my professional experiences and development. Rich Maggiani and Ed Marshall’s article, “Using LinkedIn to Get Work,” made me feel like I am doing a lot of things right. Then I read chapter 8 of Eric Qualman’s  Socialnomics…let’s just say it made me feel a bit behind the times.

I’ve never considered creating a video resume—it’s just not something that ever occurred to me. In my current position, I’ve reviewed resumes of applicants for open technical writing positions and have looked at personal websites and LinkedIn profiles, but never a video resume. I have to wonder if it would add as much value as Qualman claims. He states,

“Recruiters can quickly screen through potential hires in minutes versus all the guesswork associated with traditional paper resumes” (p. 226).

I can’t imagine that a video resume removes as much of the guesswork from the hiring process as this implies. Hiring managers still have to read between the lines and figure out what candidates are really about. After all, a video resume (like a paper resume) is created with the intention of shining the best light on the applicant. It’s essentially a commercial designed to make the applicant look good. (Maybe it’s the technical communicator in me, but I think I’d rather read a professional document about a person than watch a commercial for them.)

Job searching and recruiting varies greatly by industry. I’m just not sure video resumes in particular are the best fit for technical communication. Perhaps Qualman is assuming the advertising industry, which would probably work a lot better for this type of format. Other tools such as professional profiles and personal websites seem to be a much better fit for technical communicators. The ability to display and link to work samples is also invaluable, but probably more beneficial to some people than others. Many communicators who work in a corporate environment write proprietary information for their company and can’t share work samples at all, let alone make them publicly available on the Internet. Again, this may be a better fit for advertising or even freelance writers.

Despite seeming focused more on job searching and recruiting in a marketing or advertising field, much of what Qualman highlights can be applied to technical communication. I’m curious, though, would you find video resumes much more helpful than traditional paper resumes when it comes to hiring a technical communicator?

Posted on November 4, 2012, in Social Media, Workplace. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. In general, I agree with you. I don’t think there is much call for video resumes. In fact, it could also have the exact opposite effect and make a person less desirable as a hire. I mean, how many people are really comfortable in front of a camera. And what if the video production quality is a little sub-par? Unless you are being hired for video production, it should be irrelevant, but people will still judge you on it.

    Now, if by video he might mean a recorded presentation or some sort of animation, that could be directly relevant to a technical communicator if they have to produce such things as training or tutorials. In that case it might make you stand out. Maybe I would see it more as an item for a person’s portfolio rather than an actual resume in and of itself.

    • Great point, Bob. A “video resume” that was customized to be more of a showcase or demonstration of skills relevant to the position could definitely add value. In that case, it would almost function like a work sample in addition to a resume. (When I was writing my post I couldn’t get past thinking about it as a recorded self-promotion.)

  2. In regards to video resumes, what about how people can be weeded out more easily and discreetly based on their looks or weight? I know that if appearance-based discrimination were to happen that it would still happen during an in-person interview, but by that time both the interviewee and the company would have invested some time into the applicant. And as Bob eludes to, it focuses on skills that may not be related to the job in question. Kind of like when we receive a paper resume with misspellings and coffee stains on it – a cruddy video would not present the applicant in a positive light. However, if the video was TOO good, those in charge of hiring might wonder why the applicant is trying so hard. I suppose I think it’s safer to only create a video resume if I was specifically requested/required either by the company’s HR department or in the job posting itself. And quite frankly, I would be a little creeped out if a job posting blatantly said, “Please submit a video of yourself.”

  3. I’ve heard of people needing to video their teaching demos or share them with hiring committees, but that makes me think of those “audition” videos people make of themselves to get onto reality TV shows, which of course are not an authentic “performances.”

    I currently use Tegrity capture software to record my ENGL 335 lectures [it grabs what is shown on your desktop as well as audio] but the ECHO system we used before would include images of me walking around the classroom. It’s already uncomfortable having to talk directly to online students who are supposedly listening to these recordings, but watching myself was painful.

    Can we focus on what you felt you were doing right according to the LinkedIn article instead? 😉

  4. I am way behind the times in terms of using Linkedln to search for work–I never have. I know that broadcast journalists use their on-camera interviews as part of their portfolio, and that these videos are expected. However, I don’t like the idea of recording myself talking about my work history, educational experience, and everything else included on a paper resume. The college I work for recently updated our ITV system to an IVC (Inter-video conferencing) system that uses Hi-Def cameras to broacast classes to distant locations on 80″ Hi-Def Tv’s. For those that are camera shy, this is not that exciting, since the Hi-Def allows students to see the instructor much more clearly than the old system allowed for. (no bad hair days anymore)!

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