Mastering the Art of the Video Resume
By Brad Holbrook
Emmy Award-winning TV Journalist and Founder of ActorIntro.com and AuthorIntro.com
In my 20 years as a TV news journalist, I learned that video is the single most powerful way to communicate who you are and what you bring to the table. A well-shot, well-edited video can even surpass an in-person meeting since you have complete control of your image and no chance of letting nervousness or factors outside your control ruin your first impression.
These days, video is everywhere. Thanks to online tools like YouTube and Vimeo, videos can be uploaded, linked, and sent almost instantly, and they serve every purpose from entertainment to education. And as we all know from viral phenomena like ObamaGirl and The Evolution of Dance, sometimes all it takes is a flipcam and an idea to get seen far and wide.
But when it comes to using video to sell yourself professionally, a few rules apply. Video interviews have already become a must for aspiring actors and other on-camera talent, and now professionals in all industries are using video to get an edge in today’s competitive job market.
Follow these rules for video self-promotion so that – just like a great resume – your video enhances who you are, your experience, and talent:
1. Quality is Key
This is the #1 rule – everything else is secondary. In the age of HDTV, Hulu, and digital photography, a flipcam or webcam video screams “amateur!” Especially in industries like performing arts, entertainment, advertising, and media, your video has to be the best quality available on the market: High-Definition with clear audio.
2. Be True to Your Personality & Product
Unless you’re taping a film audition, this is not a time to play a character or try to be who you think they want. Show your authentic self, and make sure your video shoot environment is comfortable so you can be fully present.
3. Engage your audience
Tell a story, laugh, smile, give thoughtful answers. It’s painful to watch someone who is self-conscious or over-thinks their answers. Which brings us to…
Feel free to giggle or mess up or answer questions twice during your shoot… as long as you have a professional editor doing post-production. The final product should only show the best clips, especially in the first 10 seconds.
5. Get Professional Help
“Why can’t I do it myself?” This is the question I hear most often. The answer is twofold: quality and perception. We’ve already covered how important quality is for putting your best foot forward. But remember – the way you see yourself isn’t objective, you need a third party to help capture what’s most marketable about you.
6. Own Your Video
When hiring someone to shoot your professional video, make sure you will be able to get the video itself and/or a link to where it’s hosted online, and that the rights allow you to use it as you see fit. Note that to keep you video on your YouTube or Facebook page, you need the whole file, not just an embed code.
7. Don’t Over-disclose
Nothing makes a viewer cringe like a “TMI” moment. Just like your Facebook status, you never know who might see your video, even years down the road, so keep your secrets to yourself.
8. Keep it Brief
No matter how much work you put into your video, over half the viewers will stop watching after the first 15 seconds. A video resume should never be more than 3 minutes; best to keep it around 60 seconds. Keep ‘em wanting more.
9. Know the Top Places to Post
This varies depending on your goals, but many sites that show job listings now give you an opportunity to add video. This is sure to give you an edge over the (yawn) same old resume and picture approach.
10. Update Often
If you work on a new project every few months, consider re-shooting your video once a year. This shows you take your career seriously and that you’re in demand.
Brad Holbrook founded ActorIntro.com after 20 years in TV journalism and 5 years as a professional working actor in New York City. You can see examples of video interviews at www.actorintro.com/actors and www.authorintro.com/samples.