Spotless resume, check.
Cover letter, check.
But these days, more job candidates are adding something extra to their applications to stand out from the crowd: Video clips.
Although video resumes have been around for years, the tool is gaining wider acceptance because of the popularity of YouTube and other video-sharing sites.
Advances in broadband technology and the easy use and accessibility of digital and Web cameras also are contributing to a surge in video resume production, especially among younger job candidates who perfected their Internet skills on social networking sites while growing up.
Few employers are routinely asking for video resumes and, some job placement consultants argue that recruiters will never have enough time to sift through many of them. Others worry the new tool could open the door to more claims of job discrimination.
But some workplace consultants and businesses are betting that the trend will take off in coming years as knowledgeable applicants look for one more way to make sure their resumes stand out in the virtual world of job searching.
Tim Kassouf, a recent graduate of Towson University's College of Business and Economics, created a video resume for a job competition in the spring and then decided to keep using it to augment his job search. Kassouf posted his video resume along with a traditional one on his Web site, where recruiters could check out both.
On his nearly four-minute clip, Kassouf, wearing a suit and tie, highlights his academic and extracurricular activities. Achievements include his tenure as president of the college's e-business student association and increasing its membership from 2 to 31.
The video resume "gives an employer a chance to hear me and see me," said Kassouf, who snagged a six-month contract job with a Baltimore-based education company but is looking for a full-time position. "I believe my strength is my personality."
Some workplace consultants see opportunities for job applicants, employers and businesses that produce video resumes.
"It's really the first inning right now for video resumes," said Mark Oldman, co-president and co-founder of Vault Inc., a career-focused media company that operates Vault.com, which has been running a series of video resume contests. "At the very least, it can satisfy the 'glint in the eye' test. It could convey passion, enthusiasm and emotional intelligence. That you may not get from a paper resume or paper cover letter."
Not everyone is convinced, though. Some consultants wonder whether recruiters have the time or the patience to watch video resumes. And there are concerns about potential discriminatory practices as videos more readily reveal personal characteristics - one reason why companies stopped accepting photos with resumes years ago.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission cautions that new technology job tools could lead to unintentional race or color discrimination or leave a disproportionate number of applicants who may not have access to such technology out of the process.
"It's a flash in the pan," said Ryan C. Money, founder and chief executive officer of HireVue.com, a provider of video interviewing services.
Recruiters are time-sensitive and it's unrealistic to "think that they have the time to watch a five-minute video resume when they traditionally take 10 seconds to look at a paper resume," Money said.
HireVue.com considered adding video resume services but decided against the idea, Money said. Unlike paper resumes, there are no guidelines or standardization for video resumes, he said. Examples of video clips range in length, style and substance.
Bill Wiseley, director of client relations for Xsell Resources, an information technology staffing firm in Willow Grove, Pa., said clients are not asking for video resumes, nor are job candidates submitting them.
"We're going to wait it out to see if video resumes become a game-changing trend in all industries," Wiseley said. "It's still 99.9 percent paper resumes."
Yet, that is not stopping job candidates, particularly young ones, from posting their video resumes on YouTube (a recent search of "resume" found more than 5,000 results) and social networking sites like MySpace. A number of job-posting sites like Jobster.com, CollegeGrad.com and Workblast.com have added video resume service for candidates in recent months.
And CareerBuilder.com, one of the biggest employment sites, recently announced that it would add a video resume service by later this month. (Tribune Co., parent of The Sun, partly owns CareerBuilder.com.) Monster.com said in a statement that it's exploring a similar tool.
Some career counselors at graduate business schools are cautioning MBA students about the pitfalls of video resumes. Although traditional resumes have been accessible on the Web for years, most of them are typical in style and format. But personal curiosity among applicants and recruiters alike is drawing eyeballs to video resumes on the Web.
Steve Tiufekchiev, associate director of employer development in the Office of Career Management at University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business, pointed to the well-publicized and much ridiculed case of Aleksey Vayner, a Yale University student whose video resume submitted to bank UBS appeared on the Internet and quickly spread.
The clip titled Impossible is Nothing featured Vayner lifting weights and ballroom dancing.
"It really highlighted the downsides," Tiufekchiev said. "The issue here is when you put it out on cyberspace, you can't get it back. That's something that undergraduate [students] will not be as concerned about. As you go into the professional work space, these individuals are thinking about their actions more so."
While recruiters may be personally curious about video resumes, they remain "professionally skittish," said Steve Rothberg, founder and president of collegerecruiter.com.
But, Rothberg expects video clips to become a more valuable recruiting tool for some industries, such as sales, public relations and creative fields, than others.
Gewei Ye, an assistant professor of marketing and e-commerce at Towson's College of Business and Economics, sees potential in the technology. He assigned students in his principles of e-commerce course to create video resumes during the spring semester.
"Recruiters see hundreds of resumes a day," Ye said. "How could we make my students' resumes stand out? They're trained in e-commerce and this technology. Why not use the technology, and if you have a video resume, it stands out. Of course, it should be a quality one."
One student, Rachel Euler, 23, of Rodgers Forge, a marketing major who recently finished her junior year, used the experiment to create two short video clips.
Under 30 seconds
The first one shows Euler's creative side. The clip plays off a popular Geico commercial featuring the omnipresent voice of the movie trailer announcer. The second and more traditional one, which is less than 30 seconds, features Euler introducing herself and her desire to break into the pharmaceutical sales industry.
Euler, who's currently looking for a summer job, said she's open to submitting her video clips as part of her application as long as employers are willing.
A recent survey by Vault found that 89 percent of 309 employers said they would watch a video resume if they received them. Still, only 17 percent said they have actually seen one.
Toll Brothers Inc. began encouraging entry-level applicants, mostly college students, to submit video resumes about a year ago, said Jay Lehman, director of national recruiting for the Horsham, Pa.-based builder of luxury homes.
Lehman said Toll Brothers uses a video firm that allows applicants at no charge to tape answers to several questions that ask them to expand on their paper resumes. Though the request isn't mandatory, Lehman said a video component provides something extra for recruiters to screen entry-level applicants who mostly have similar education and work experience.
Sign of seriousness
"With technology today, on any of the career boards, it's very easy for the student to click the mouse and send out 15 resumes automatically and not be really aware of who they sent it out to," Lehman said. By creating a video resume, "it tells me that they're a little more serious about the opportunity."
Mel Aclaro, 44, of Anaheim Hills, Calif., posted his video resume on Jobster.com and his Web site late last year even though he was employed. Aclaro said he wanted to create an online presence for himself and solicit freelance work as well as recruit potential workers for his employer at the time.
Using a camcorder and editing software, Aclaro created a polished, nearly four-minute video clip. The video resume features Aclaro talking about his military experience and professional accomplishments while the screen cuts to icons and pictures.
His video resume helped him land a new gig at RealtyU Group Inc., an Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based career development company for the real estate industry.
Bill Shue, president and chief operating officer of RealtyU, said Aclaro's video resume was the first he'd seen. But the clip was relevant for the position of online training instructional designer. And Shue was impressed with Aclaro's initiative.
Aclaro started his new job last month.
"It's like any cover letter," Aclaro said of a video resume. "It should be enough to entice someone to pick up the phone."
The Technical Approach
Do you want to be a video resume star? Here are a few tips to stand out:
Keep it short and sweet. Don?t ramble.
Be yourself. That is, unless you?re really an actor and showcasing your theatrical skills.
Be professional. Wear an outfit that you would wear to an interview. And there is no reason why recruiters would want to see you dance or juggle.
Make sure your video is relevant to the position you?re seeking. Ask yourself whether a video resume is appropriate for the job.
Don?t regurgitate what?s on your paper resume. Show off skills or personality that don?t come through on a traditional resume.
Source: Collegegrad.com, interviews with ex? perts