Do video and high-tech resumes work?

pen on portfolio case
© Oleg Smirnov |

It seems that the only people who say high-tech resumes with videos, slide shows, and dancing elephants work are the people who produce them.  Of course, there are exceptions for people in specific industries where those things are common.  You know who you are. For the rest of the world, these techniques can spell disaster.

There are strict standards in most HR departments. One big issue is age. Nothing can reveal age as quickly as a photo. All HR departments and hiring managers guard against possible discrimination challenges for race, age, obesity, physical disability, and more. In some cases, an interviewee is automatically disqualified for voluntarily providing that type of information. This is a good example of why you need to be aware of the laws and understand that you may not help yourself by divulging additional information.

What do you think happens when the video shows a person with black skin, white hair, too many pounds, or children screaming in the background? All can be factors in discrimination.  It’s even worse if you happen to be the person who lost your hair at 25 or who has an MBA and looks twelve-years-old. Don’t stack the deck against yourself people. In many professions, you will have one or more phone interviews before an on-site interview. The missing hair and the youthful look will be a lot less important by the time the search has narrowed the list to the last few candidates and you are among the top prospects.

Business owners also need to be cognizant of the risks of these new resumes. Don’t accept them without talking to your attorney or an HR professional. Too much information up front can cost a hefty price later. There are job seekers out there who look for opportunities to sue unsuspecting employers.

Another point to consider is the time it takes to review video and multi-media resumes, along with the potential for incompatible formats. There are hundreds of applicants for every job. If your resume takes extra time, it’s likely to get bypassed, instead of getting extra attention. If the resume goes to a small business that uses a Mac and you send a resume in an incompatible PC format, it will never be seen. If you must show off your skills, don’t include personal video of yourself. If you must display your accomplishments in slide shows, include the information on your written resume too.

Because so many employers run searches to check out prospective employees on Google and social media sites, I don’t recommend posting non-professional photos of yourself. You can’t hide all of the information that’s out there if you’re active in social media, which is a good reason not to have party photos or anything questionable online. Everyone knows you have a personal life and photos of you hiking with your dog or camping are fine.

I realize everyone expects a photo of a business owner, but business owners usually aren’t searching for a job. Photos really do add that personal touch that makes you seem more accessible. Still, if you are searching for a job, think like the employer. You can look human without giving away information that’s illegal for them to obtain before hiring, and worse, information that may get you disqualified simply because you revealed too much too soon.