Video CVs: yes, no or maybe?

Traditional recruitment methods still hold sway in the job market: most recruiters use online applications or the CV/cover letter combo to assess and select suitable candidates. Is there room for a less conventional, more creative approach or is the video CV doomed from the start?

The case for

  • A VCV can be a really powerful and dynamic way to brand and sell yourself. It’s really difficult to stand out in such a crowded job market, particularly at the start of your career when your ‘profile’ (experience, qualifications, skills) looks similar to your peers.
  • If you’re studying a degree with little or no technical content, a VCV can help you showcase your aptitude with technology and new media.
  • It’s easy to lay claim to “excellent communication skills” on paper; we can all be articulate and engaging from the safety of a keyboard. There’s nowhere to hide on camera, so it can be a great way to show recruiters up front that you’re a confident communicator.
  • It can demonstrate your capabilities beyond the traditional CV format and open a window to your personality. Of course, you need to be aware this could backfire!

The case against

  • Employers are time poor and a VCV adds an extra burden to their workload. Assuming most candidates create 2 or 3 minutes’ worth of film, that is a huge investment of time for recruiters.
  • Video CVs favour the charming, creative and charismatic. Unless your presentation skills are top notch and you can really draw the viewer in you may simply leave yourself open and exposed. Most of us aren’t naturals in front of the camera – even the YouTube generation.
  • We’re visual creatures and respond positively to aesthetic cues – nice painting, great photo, attractive face.  In other words, does a VCV open the door to potential discrimination? Why risk it?
  • Consider the presentation rule: people typically remember 10% of what they see, 20% of what they read and 80% of what they hear. There’s every chance your message will get lost.


If you’re looking for high energy, creative roles where innovative thinking is a reality, not a cliché, then a VCV could get you noticed. This approach might bear fruit in the world of PR, advertising and digital marketing. Possibly even sales – after all, if you can sell yourself in two minutes of film the chances are you can sell anything, anywhere! A word of caution however, don’t assume that creative companies will necessarily welcome creative applications. If you send a VCV to replace, not complement, more traditional methods you are taking a risk.

We’ve all heard of graduates wearing sandwich boards or hiring billboards  in their desperate bid to find work, sometimes with success: Adam, star of his own billboard campaign, EmployAdam, received 60 offers and now works for KEO Digital. There’s clearly a space for the unconventional and resourceful job seeker, and I can see that a well-made VCV is more enticing that a standard speculative email. I’m still somewhat sceptical about the ‘scalability’ of the VCV as a recruitment and selection tool but it could work well for the risk-taking, boundary-pushing, sparky grad who likes the spotlight.

And if that sounds like you, here’s a great infographic to show you how. Thanks to the creativity of Alex Townley from Inspiring Interns:

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