CV writing. Or filming ..?

You’re looking to change jobs or you’re just looking for a job, you may have sent your CV off a few (dozen) times and have had no real result or joy.

Put yourself in the recipient’s shoes, it’s difficult to get a feel for someone’s personality and creativity from a CV and cover letter.

And from your point of view, it is difficult to stand out from the crowd. So the choice is either get really creative with your CV, or think of an alternative way of representing yourself. Unless you’re applying for a graphic design job, there are limits to what you should do with your CV, as its ‘personality’ must be in keeping with the type of position you’re interested in or qualified for.

So what’s the alternative?

We already see that the making of a video clip is part of many entry level position selection processes. These positions see a high volume of applications and it is much quicker to judge candidates visually than from their CV. Of course, in a sense it is also self-selecting, as some people are not prepared to go to the trouble of filming themselves, whereas they may have been tempted to just fire off a CV.

Unilever says that since it has started to use video as part of the job application process, it is getting a higher rate of acceptances on job offers and it has improved its diversity.

So how is this relevant to executive roles and positions?

Well, it isn’t. Not yet anyway.

And here is my point. In my opinion in a world where the number of searches on YouTube are similar to the number of Google searches, video / visual representation is becoming increasingly important. Just look at how many video posts there are on LinkedIn and on Twitter.

So, it will only be a matter of time before we will be presenting ourselves by an introductory email and a link to a video clip … and perhaps a CV attachment as well.  For any position, from shop assistant to CEO.

As that time has not yet come, what an opportunity to stand out from the crowd right now!

So how do you go about it? Here are a few steps to consider.

  1. Plan before you start writing your script.

It is important to make an impression as quickly as possible, so introduce yourself and sum up in a sentence or two why you’re the best person for the job. Follow this with quantifiable achievements, plus comments or examples about your leadership style and your experience to date. Don’t be a clown, however if you can inject a bit of humour then that will make you sound more confident and will give the recipient an idea of your personality.

  1. Rehearse

Know what you are going to say, in what order and what words you will use. Make sure you do not come across as a newsreader. You could put post-it notes with bullet points around the camera if you need an aid. Think about your posture, body language and facial expressions – all this, whilst making sure that this is you and not some act that you cannot live up to in the long run!

  1. Shoot

Do a few test runs to make sure the lighting is right, you have paid attention to the background and that you are happy with the distance of the camera. Just filming your face as a close up would be weird. However it is your choice whether you want to sit, stand, just film your upper torso behind a desk or anything else. Find some examples on YouTube and see what you like and what works for you. Shoot several takes until you are happy with the end result.

  1. Edit

If you’re not a confident editor, avoid using too many graphics or animations – although a title with your name and contact details is a good idea. If you want to splash the cash, then find a professional editor (probably a 19 year old with a penchant for online gaming). The aim should be to create a coherent video without detracting from your message. Remember, you’re being judged on your skills, personality and presentation, not your video editing skills.

Finally, seek out honest feedback from a trusted friend or mentor.

  1. Submit

It is probably easiest to upload it to YouTube or Vimeo in order to share it with any recipient. I’d recommend that you keep your video private, so that only people with the link can see it.

Then create a well-worded email and Bob’s your uncle.

Will this get you the job? No. Will it make you stand out and be more likely to be picked out for an interview? Most likely.


Good luck and let me know if you need any help.

Maarten Jonckers