Video ResumesPosted: May 11, 2007 | Author: Jamie Madigan | Filed under: Uncategorized | 2 Comments »
A couple of months ago I heard a story on NPR about what they called a new trend in job seeking: the video resume. To see what I’m talking about, just go to YouTube and do a search for “video resume” and you’ll get plenty. If you’re at work, try not to waste too much time at this point. The idea is that these folks are taking advantage of the falling prices in basic film making equipment to make movies of themselves where they review their qualifications and ask for jobs. I think it’s fair to say that production quality varies widely, but some of them are decent.
I’m of two minds on this. On the one hand, I’m a mildly geeky guy who loves technology, especially when used to solve old problems. And let’s be honest: this blog isn’t too many steps removed from the idea of a video resume. The main difference is that I’m not pro actively sending it out to prospective employers. And therein lies one of the problems my other hand has with this: it potentially circumvents whatever hiring and selection system you may have in place. Most resumes go through some kind of screening and cataloging so that the employer can prepare for government audits and identify those who report having the right skills. Video resumes, however, are precisely designed to make the candidates stand out from the sea of traditional resumes, and people probably aren’t mailing them to the HR department or attaching them to their electronic applications on your website. At least not primarily. You’re more likely to encounter video resumes from a hiring manager who sends you an e-mail saying “I saw this kid who put together this slick thing together. She’s even got a talking dog! I want to make her a Vice President.” In other words, they’re going to be a pain for whoever is supposed to be tracking all this stuff.
And what’s more, video resumes bring up a lot of concerns from the I-O Psychologist in me. First, they introduce all kinds of opportunities for bias based on appearance. Of course, one could argue that that’s going to happen in the face-to-face interview stage anyway, but I’d counter by saying that video resumes have the potential to exacerbate these biases and bring them out much sooner in the selection process. (There’s some interesting potential research questions here, by the way.) And unless you’re hiring a film director or editor, how slick and professional a person’s video looks is probably going to be irrelevant to the job, and making hiring decisions on such factors is inviting trouble. Of course, proponents of video resumes could then say that we deal with these same factors in resumes and dress. We’ve probably all seen poorly formatted resumes and inappropriate interview attire. True, but again it’s a matter of degree, and at the end of the day that’s what’s at the heart of my unease: lack of standardization. Wonderful, wonderful standardization.
The bottom line is that to make accurate and legally defensible hiring decisions you should only focus on job related information and ignore just about everything else. Standardizing the application process to elicit the most job related information and give everyone the same fair shake is the way to go, be it through resume screening, testing, structured interviews, or what have you. And besides, video resumes are only attractive right now because they’re novel. Imagine a world where they were more standardized and every one of the two hundred applicants for a single job sends in a seven minute (or longer) video for you to watch and evaluate. Your staffing department would erupt into flames and shrill cries for mutiny. Nobody wants that, even if it does mean I get to surf YouTube as part of my job.