It is hard to get your passion and personality across on one A4 page when applying for a job. After all, there are hundreds of other applicants who, just like you, are looking to impress the recruiter and get hired for the same role.
To stand out from the crowd, some journalists use video CVs where they can fullly express themselves, catch the recruiters eye and show off their skills. Bear in mind that video CVs are still quite rare so there is a good chance your face will be the one they will remember. Plus, the demand for multimedia content is rising, so this is an ideal opportunity to show your prospective employer your potential. But before you decide to give it a go, check out these tips to make sure you do not stand out for the wrong reasons.
What is a video CV
When applying for a job, you can send a short recording of yourself in addition to your written CV and a cover letter. The purpose is to grab your recruiter's attention - just like you would do with your audience - and show your personality, creativity, and presenting and editing skills.
You can upload the clip to a video hosting site like YouTube or Vimeo, or send it as a video file. However, remember that larger files take longer to download, which may test your recruiter's patience. When uploading on Vimeo, you can also make your video private. That way, only people with the link and a password can watch it.
What you need to think about
Aim between one-to-three minutes long. Any longer and it can get boring. Make sure you check your background for anything embarrassing (two years of pandemic and Zoom calls should have prepared you for that) and that the lighting is good.
Unless you are a phenomenal presenter, write a script. This will help you stay focused and remember to say everything you intend to share. Look directly into the camera lens and stay relaxed but professional. The whole point is to be genuine and let your personality shine through, so do not be tempted to copy another video application you found online.
You do not need any expensive equipment - your smartphone and a pair of headphones will do. Bonus points for using a lapel mic.
Remember that, like any good story, your video needs to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Start by introducing yourself and say why you are the right person for the role. You can then address some of the key requirements in the job application, or talk about your motivation for the role and your top skills. In the end, thank the viewer for watching your video and include your contact details.
You can also use features like slideshows, images and clips of your work, or graphics and infoboxes to add information. Play with the format - from a presenter-led video to a mock Q&A or a narrated timeline, you can do what you are the best at or match your video to the publisher's style.
Video CVs are particularly well suited for roles in media advertising and sales as recruiters want to see a candidate's personality. But even if you are a writer, being able to present your story on camera can be a huge asset in the age of social video.
Daniell Morrisey is the editorial portfolio manager at BBC where he oversees apprenticeships and trainee schemes that include a mix of written and video questions in the application process.
"We think it’s good for accessibility to give people the opportunity to express themselves both verbally and in writing," he says.
"We advise applicants to just be themselves. We're looking for journalism potential – natural curiosity and storytelling – not polished presenting ability."
When it is not a good idea
While some people love being in front of a camera, a video CV is not for everyone. If you are nervous or camera-shy, you may want to reconsider. The whole point is to highlight your strengths, not to expose your shortcomings. Also, do not underestimate the time needed to prepare for, film and edit the video - you may need several hours or even a day, so stick to a written CV if you are on a tight deadline.
If you still want to give it a go but lack the skills or confidence to produce a video, there are plenty of agencies that can do it for you. Just remember that, ultimately, your job application is about you so only do what you feel comfortable with.
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