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Cradle to Grave: Resume or Visume?
Posted Nov 13, 2009 - November 2009 Issue Print Version     Page 1of 1

In today's tight job market, it's important for a job seeker to stand out from the many other applicants who are applying for the same position. Welcome to video resumes—or "visumes," as they are sometimes referred to. Creating a video resume means more than just standing in front of the camera and saying the first thing that comes to mind.

Rather, a well-produced video resume that will get positive results will take many hours of preparation and production time-not to mention the guidance of a video professional. This is where we come in. We need to see the value of what we offer to those seeking our services before we can expect them to use our services. So let's begin by looking at what we can offer those in need of a video resume.

First, we can offer professional quality. Just as a job seeker would not present a handwritten resume in a lined notebook, that same person should not try to produce a video resume by himself or herself using just
a consumer camcorder.

These job seekers need the guidance and expertise of those who understand the language of video. Part of that language involves making the subject look and sound good, a task that involves the proper use of lighting and audio as well as composition and presentation. These are skills that job seekers in other fields simply don't have.

Second, we can offer professional consultation. Even before the video production begins, it's important to help our clients focus on what they want to communicate. We can personally be involved in writing the script, or we can bring in script writers for specific projects.

The key is not to try to communicate everything but to communicate those essential points that will demonstrate why this person should be considered for employment. Just like any other video that fails to hold its audience's attention for its full running length, if a visume is too long, it will be turned off after the first few minutes. If it's uninteresting, it will be turned off even sooner.

I like to think of a video resume as a commercial that makes the viewer take the time to look at the complete written resume. Our expertise will help our clients limit what they say and learn how to say it effectively in seconds, not minutes.

One of the benefits of a video resume is that it helps people see themselves as others see them. Even before we complete the project, it is important for our clients to look at themselves and to listen to how they come across. If they have an uninviting appearance, either because of poor grooming or a bad wardrobe, all of the editing techniques in the world will not be able to change that. Also, if they speak without proper inflection and clutter their presentation with "ums" and their fragmented thoughts, that will indicate to job recruiters that they are poor communicators.

As they begin to see themselves as others see them, they need to consciously make an effort to improve and to communicate confidence and not confusion. Our coaching skills will help clients present themselves effectively, not only on video but also in actual interview situations.

So what is the process that we follow in creating a video resume for our clients? Here are some guidelines that will help you produce a visume that will get results.

  1. Preparation. Take the time to help your clients write down exactly what they want to communicate in their video resumes. Remember, they can't communicate everything, so help them discover the most important points to get across. Be a good listener and ask appropriate questions. In a sense, you're playing the role of devil's advocate, challenging clients with their statements and helping them clarify their thoughts.

    Once you've had this initial meeting, the creative juices should start flowing. Contact your clients as you brainstorm on ways to effectively communicate their message. For example, one of the first video resumes I did was for a young lady who was applying for a position working with refugee families in a large urban church.

    Instead of simply having her tell the camera what she could do, we took time to videotape her in action-showing her meeting families at the airport, helping them settle into new housing, getting acquainted with their new culture, and so forth. Each of these clips only took a few seconds, but they revealed the way this young lady interacted with these folks as well as her confidence in giving them direction. She got the job.

    In other cases, where there is not a need to demonstrate the client in action-or action footage simply isn't available-it's important to communicate their credentials and qualifications through the use of effective graphics. But you'll need to think through all of this before filming takes place.

  2. Production. Allow sufficient time to set up and videotape your client's presentation. Make sure that the background or location does not detract from the message. Tape the presentation several times, giving guidance on speech, mannerisms, and other things you observe that will help your clients communicate their capabilities as well as their confidence.

    As a video professional, you're responsible for proper lighting, audio, composition, and all the other ingredients necessary to make your client look good. It's often helpful to have an assistant help you, someone who can observe the details that you may overlook, such as the need for makeup, wrinkles in the clothing, objects that need to be removed, and so on.

  3. Editing. Here is where your real value as a video professional comes in. Your goal is to have a production that moves quickly and communicates the value of the client in a very short video clip.

    Some video resumes can be as short as a minute; more importantly, they should never be longer than 5 minutes. Here's one suggestion to encourage your client to keep it short: Charge by the finished minute. If you charge $1,000 for every edited minute, you'll be amazed at how short your client will want to keep the final product, and how soon you'll start seeing eye to eye on what can and should be cut.

    Before sending the visume out to prospective employers, have family members and friends review it and give their feedback. They will be brutally honest in telling you if you have effectively communicated the message on video.

  4. Distribution. Once you've edited the video to everyone's satisfaction, it's important that it be used effectively, so think about how your client may want to distribute it. If you're going to send out DVDs, make sure that the graphics on the disc and the cover are professional and that they communicate your high standards.

    Some job sites on the internet have a place to include a video along with a person's written profile. You can also upload the video to YouTube and Vimeo as well as Facebook and other social networking sites; you can even put the videos on your own website and have your clients include a link to it in their written or online resumes. Make sure that all your clients' prospective employers have a link to this video.

A final word: Before you begin advertising your services, be sure you have produced at least one video resume that you can show as an example of your work. The best way to do this is to offer to do one free for a friend or family member. Going through the process from beginning to end is the best way to prepare yourself to be of help to those needing your services.

Also, be sure to keep current on how video resumes are being used. Every once in a while, Google "Video Resumes" in order to see how they are being used as well as to get creative ideas for your clients. I would also encourage you to go to YouTube and do a similar search. Not only will you see some that are well done, but you'll also be reminded why people need your services.

A well-produced video resume will not guarantee getting a job-but it will guarantee that your clients will be far ahead of those who are still using traditional job-seeking methods.

Alan Naumann (alan at memoryvision.tv) is co-author, with Melonie Jeska, of The Complete Guide to Video Biographies, a newly released, comprehensiove set of training materials for professional video producers. A featured speaker at WEVA Expo 2004–0 and a two-time EventDV 25 honoree, he is based in Minneapolis.

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