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The Dos and Don’ts of Video CVs

The Dos and Don’ts of Video CVs main image

Video CVs are finding increasing traction among recruiters and offering a way for candidates to stand out from the crowd. Alongside your regular written CV, a video provides the opportunity communicate your personality to a potential employer – especially valuable in media, client-facing or marketing roles.

A video CV can be an excellent way to sell yourself – certainly more dynamic than the standard cover letter – but only if you do it right. Here are some fail-safe tips for nailing that perfect shoot.

DO: Smile!

Aside from making us happier, studies show that we look more approachable and professional when we smile. Research from Duke University suggests that we like and remember those who smile at us more than others. So if you want to stick in that recruiter’s mind, get those teeth out.

DON’T: Move too much

The camera lens is magical; it plays down certain things, and vastly magnifies others. What might seem like a normal gesture in real life will look fidgety, uncomfortable and even bizarre on-screen.

Keep hand movements existent but minimal, and your shoulders still. Face the camera, relax and speak with your feet planted on the ground. Be conscious of the ticks you acquire under pressure and control yourself where possible. While it might be good for you, fidgeting only looks nervous and unprofessional to an interviewer.

DO: Prepare well

The video CV is all about communicating your personality, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking you don’t need to prepare. Unless you want to look slow, disorganized and foolish, staring blankly at a camera screen won’t help you.

Write out your speech and practice it beforehand – then have it held behind the camera for you to read from. If you’re going to add character and verve to the passage, you need to know it like the back of your hand. And if you can’t read it live? Memorize it, using some tried and tested techniques.

DON’T: Sound like you’re reciting a script

When you watch the news, it’s easy to forget that those easy, breezy anchors are reading their dialogue off an auto-cue. That’s how you want to be: relaxed, confident and carrying off your entirely scripted speech in a charming, off-the-cuff fashion.

This is a key skill that many recruiters will be looking for. After all, if you can’t deliver a monologue effectively, how poor will your presentation skills be?

DO: Show off your personality

The point of a video CV is to communicate what a regular CV can’t – that is, you. Recruiters want to see your personality, your interests and your style. Wear something that is professional but reflects your personality – a bright shirt or a fun hair clip is within the limits. Talk about your hobbies and interests, not just your work experience.

Give the camera the best of yourself, but make sure it really is you. Don’t fake and don’t pretend. If you can’t present yourself honestly on camera, you probably shouldn’t bother with the video at all.

DON’T: Worry about covering everything

This isn’t the place to list your A levels, work experience and hard skills. Your written CV should be doing that already, and nobody likes a broken record.

DO: End the video sounding confident

A video CV is effectively a speech, and every speech needs a strong ending. This could be the moment the recruiter will remember most vividly, so make it count. Be confident but firm – no shrugs or murmurs of “I think that’s all.”

For inspiration, check out this tutorial series on how to end a speech.

DON’T: Stress it!

Video CVs are not the norm in recruiting and probably never will be. It’s an extra – a bit of fluff to bolster your core application – and should not be taken too seriously. If you honestly feel that you can’t come across well on-screen, don’t force yourself. Better to have no video than a bad one.

But if you’re going into sales or a similar role, and want to stand out from the crowd, grab a camera and get going. These days, there’s no excuse, with plenty of online video CV platforms to help you get your video noticed. And remember: no matter how awkward you think you look, there is always someone worse.

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