Create a great video CV

While they’re not suitable for every job a video CV can display your personality and demonstrate your creativity, passion and drive. Learn more about what to include, how to film and the pros and cons of a video application

With employers typically inundated with applications for every  role, it’s important to make your CV stand out. One way that career-savvy graduates are doing this is by submitting their CV in video format.

What is a video CV?

A video CV is a short recording used by a candidate to apply for a job. Instead of replacing traditional CVs, a video CV is used to supplement a written application.

They can either be uploaded to a video hosting site, such as YouTube, or sent as a video file directly to employers via email.

The purpose of a CV in this format is to highlight a candidate’s skills and experience while giving employers an insight into their personality.

Video CVs are usually between one and three minutes long. It’s important to grab a recruiter’s attention while keeping the running time of the video to a minimum.

When should I use a video CV?

The idea of getting in front of a camera and putting yourself in the public domain can be scary, but in some industries a video CV can really set you apart.

Video CVs are most commonly used to apply for creative and customer-facing roles in sectors such as advertising, creative arts, marketing, media, PR and sales.

However, recorded CVs don’t have to be restricted to particular jobs or industries. They can also be particularly useful when applying for digital, journalism, fashion or IT related roles.

For more traditional jobs, such as those in law, accounting, engineering, medicine and construction a video CV may not always be appropriate.

‘When deciding whether to opt for a traditional, written CV or a more modern video one, consider the employer you are approaching,’ says Iga Rodriguez Martinez, careers adviser at the University of Buckingham. Do some research into the culture of the organisation to help you decide whether it’s suitable.

If employers have a standardised application process involving an application form, or if they specifically ask for a written CV, then a video CV is unlikely to be welcome.

What are the pros and cons of this type of CV?

It’s also a good idea to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of this method of application before making the decision to apply in this way.

Video CVs have several advantages. For example, they can help you:

  • Stand out from the crowd – While video CVs are on the rise, they are by no means common. Using this method of application, you’ll immediately stand out as someone prepared to go the extra mile.
  • Showcase your creativity – Instead of following a traditional CV template you’ll do your own thing. An important quality in creative roles.
  • Display your personality – It’s hard to accurately convey your personality in a written CV or cover letter. Video enables you to make a memorable impact.
  • Demonstrate particular skills – By creating a video you can physically demonstrate skills such as public speaking, communication and IT/digital ability. You can also show off portfolio work.

However, they also have their share of disadvantages. They could:

  • Make you stand out for the wrong reasons – Video CVs aren’t for everyone. They will make some candidates shine, while highlighting the flaws of others. If you’re shy or awkward in front of a camera or don’t have the required editing skills, it’s best to give this type of CV a miss.
  • Lead you to sell yourself short – Time constraints make it difficult for you to include all the information you might wish to.
  • Take up precious time – Video CVs are time consuming to film and edit. Some recruiters believe that this time would be better spent perfecting your paper application.
  • Irritate employers – They spend as little as eight seconds looking at each paper CV so the hassle of having to spend two to three minutes watching a video could lead your application straight to the no pile.

How do I film a video CV?

If you decide to give it a go, there are a few things to consider before you start filming. First off, don’t be daunted by the quality of other video CVs you find online. The aim isn’t to be the next Steven Spielberg, but rather to give a glimpse into who you are and how you can help organisations grow.

‘Preparation is key, so consider the main points you wish to cover in your video,’ suggests Iga. ‘Use psychology to your advantage and use the beginning and the end of your video to deliver the key messages you wish the employer to remember about you.’

To begin with, write down what you’d like to say. Don’t attempt to film the video without a script – this can lead to you forgetting important points or waffling to fill the time. It’s fine to ad lib a little but try not to lose track of what you want to say. Learning your script beforehand also prevents you from having to read from an autocue or notes.

You’ll then need to think about the different shots and angles you want to film. Plotting this out in a storyboard beforehand might help.

Next, you’ll need to plan the location of your video to ensure that you have a quiet, well-lit space to film in. You’ll also need to consider the backdrop of your recording. It should be clear and free from clutter. If you’re using a specific set or props, make sure that everything that appears in your video is appropriate and professional.

Appearance also matters. Plan your outfit in advance, making sure to dress as you would for an interview. This could mean a suit and tie or business casual – take your cue from the type of organisation that you’re applying to.

The bottom line is planning matters. Schedule some time to rehearse before filming and leave yourself enough time on the day of filming to re-record until you are happy with your footage.

What should I include?

‘A video CV gives you the space to bring your written CV to life,’ says Iga. It’s important to be genuine, so don’t be tempted to copy another video CV you see on YouTube. ‘Use this opportunity to really convey your interest, suitability and enthusiasm for the role.’

Structure the video so that it has a beginning, middle and end. Start by introducing yourself, explaining why you’ve created the video and why you’re the right person for the job.

‘It may help to consider three main things about yourself. Where you are at professionally, what skills you can offer to a potential employer and what your interests are or what you want your next step to be,’ advises Iga.

Talk about your unique selling points and any relevant skills and experience, showing examples of your work and demonstrating your skills with slideshows, clips or on-screen graphics. ‘Don’t forget to include examples to validate your claims,’ adds Iga.

At the end of your video summarise what you have told the employer and reiterate why you’re right for the role. Thank them for watching the video and include your contact details. Link to online platforms that could strengthen your application, such as a website or social media account.

Think about the content in the same way that you would think about a more traditional CV – what is the employer likely to be interested in?

The format of the video could be a project showcase, mock interview (where you answer relevant questions to camera) or a narrated timeline of your experience and achievements. The choice is yours.

What technical aspects do I need to consider?

As well as practical considerations such as location and script, you’ll also need to consider technical aspects such as filming equipment, the editing process and how you’ll make the video accessible to recruiters.

You’ll need a computer, internet access, a camera, and a tripod as a minimum. You may also need lighting and sound equipment, as well as editing software such as Final Cut Pro, Microsoft Movie Maker or Apple iMovie.

If you have a smart phone with a high-quality camera, you could use this, but if you want it to look professional it’s best to use a decent DSLR camera. You’ll also need to make sure that the audio quality is good – employers will switch off if they can’t make out what you’re saying.

When filming, make the video dynamic by using different shots and camera angles. Do as many takes as possible to give you something to work with during the editing process, arguably one of the most important steps to creating a great video CV.

It’s at this stage that you can tighten up your video, reordering and tweaking shots, cutting bits that didn’t work and adding visual and sound effects (such as pointing to text as it appears on screen, graphics, voiceover, or background music). The scenes that make the final cut should be those that portray you in the best possible light.

If video editing isn’t your thing, ask a friend or put the word out online for someone who might be able to help.

‘Once you have a finished video you need to consider the size of the file and come up with a simple way to share it with potential employers,’ says Iga. Uploading the video to the internet provides easy access for employers. This way you can also link and promote your video CV on your social media channels.