There was a time when careers advisors would warn jobseekers against printing their resumes on pink paper, using strange fonts or including pictures to make their names stand out in the pile. It was enough to have good skills, solid results and a persuasive cover letter to grab attention, they would say. The rest was up to the interview. Not any more. In an age of almost 10 percent unemployment, LinkedIn profiles, job sites and social media, tech-savvy jobseekers are using all their skills to grab attention and win an interview.
YouTube is for Lolcats and Video Resumes
It worked for Justin Bieber, and for countless other amateur music stars who shot footage of themselves singing into the vacuum cleaner, uploaded it to the Web’s biggest video site and found a record contract and a new career waiting in their comments. Almost. But these things are rare. The more usual route, even for bands, is to build an audience on the pub or student circuit then watch bootlegged versions of their gigs appear on the site once they’ve made it. For people looking for jobs whose descriptions don’t include bad haircuts or television-tossing though, video resumes are becoming an increasingly popular alternative to Word docs and PDFs. Search on the site for “video resumes” and you’ll be offered a list of more than 235,000 results, including both resumes themselves and guides from “experts” explaining what to include and how to make a good impression.
And for some people, it seems to work. When Graeme Anthony began searching for a job with a PR company in England he uploaded a video that showed himself sitting at a table with a guitar in the background. Having introduced himself, he then invited viewers to click through to other parts of his resume, with the clicks leading to new, more detailed clips. It was all well done, very professional and won him a job with a PR company.
But not all video resumes are that well done. Too many look dull and lifeless, with little to offer the viewer but an audio speech. While written resumes needed very little writing skills, the best video resumes need some pretty keen awareness of video editing — and of copyright too.
If the technical challenge of creating a video resume isn’t a big enough hurdle, there are also a couple more. The resume has to be seen, first of all. Serious jobseekers can’t expect to upload the story of their life and wait for the offers to pour in. Employers, like everyone else on the site, are looking for lolcats not potential employees. Even Graeme Anthony’s video was unlisted and viewable only by those who had the link. The video might be the resume but you’ll still need a cover letter to persuade people to look at it.
Get a Job with a Google Custom Resume
If being found on YouTube is difficult, just think how hard it would be to turn up in Google’s search results. Winning links to an online resume, getting the keywording right and pushing it up the rankings is going to be anything but easy, and a waste of time for anyone who isn’t looking for a job with an SEO firm. Internet marketer Valentin Vivier though, gave it a try… although he did skip the whole search engine thing.
Instead of relying on Google to push him through the pages, he created a page that looked like Google’s search results, but with each link leading to a section of his portfolio. It took him about three days to put together, building the site from the ground up in Dreamweaver, and raiding Google’s code to get the images and colors right.
The page went up in September 2010. The buzz surrounding the resume tripled his traffic, and most importantly, by the end of October, Vivier had a job.
Advertise with AdWords
Valentin Vivier though was doing things the hard way. One of the more creative uses of Google for a job search came, appropriately enough, from someone looking for a job in a creative department at an advertising firm. Alec Brownstein created AdWords ads targeting the names (and vanities) of some of New York’s top creative directors. When they searched the Web for their own names, the first result they saw was an ad from Brownstein asking for a job.
The results were pretty impressive. Brownstein targeted five creative directors, won interviews from four and received job offers from two.
It’s an approach that’s going to be difficult to copy though. Part of its appeal was its originality, a particularly important asset for an advertising copywriter. And few industries contain such big egos as advertising. Target the name of a chief accountant in a financial firm, for example, and you might be waiting a long time to win an impression.
When it became possible to email a resume to an employer and upload a version to a jobs site, jobseeking changed forever. Those changes haven’t stopped. LinkedIn is used primarily by people looking to maintain connections with people who might one day give them a job while Twitter lets them create those connections in the first place. From video clips to Google campaigns, the competition to grab the attention of employers has only grown hotter. But there’s a downside to all of this technical innovation too. In a poll last year, 45 percent of jobseekers said that they look at the social networking pages of job candidates. The Web can’t just land you a look from a dream employer; it can just as easily keep those employers looking.