Sure, you’ve considered many of the most common ways in which videography
can enhance your income: weddings, bar mitzvahs, youth sporting events,
and other assorted rites of passage. But have you considered producing videos
to help people advance their careers?

What we’re talking about here is a videotaped resume — a simple way to
make a client’s application for employment stand apart from the crowd. In
essence, every applicant stands to benefit from a video component. Even
managers of the local supermarket and auto garage will care about their
applicants’ personal appearance and communication skills. A large number
of today’s professionals are in the business of communication. Think public
relations, community service, sales, management, etc. and you’ll begin to
see an entire sector of the business world that succeeds or fails based
upon a person’s ability to communicate effectively. Whatever the career,
a short video introduction might be just the ticket to show potential employers
that an applicant has the communication skills that a job requires.

What follows is a brief step-by-step approach to making a marketable video
resume. We’ll cover some basic tips and tricks of the video craft along
the way, as well as some specific skills you’ll need to make a successful
short video that’s geared toward one purpose: getting an applicant hired.
By the end of the article, if you’ve followed our step-by-step approach,
you’ll have the tools necessary to create a short, persuasive, stylish video
resume that just might land someone a better career.

Step One: Write a Script

The scriptwriting phase is perhaps the most important part of the resume-videomaking
process. In this phase, you will determine the rough form that the video
will take, as well as the specific verbal message you wish to convey. In
other types of videos, a script may not be all that crucial, but in a resume
video, it’s a necessity.

As with all video projects, it is very important that you keep the targeted
audience in mind at all times when writing a script for your video resume.
In this case, your audience is probably a very busy person with a stack
of resumes to read, so your best bet is to keep it short and sweet, two
to four minutes in length. As you will not have much time to get your message
across, make sure you pay attention to the most important details about
your client’s work and educational experience. Keep the content direct and
to the point, and you won’t risk wasting the time of your client’s potential

Also, try not to be too clever with the overall design of your resume video.
A simple, talking head approach in which a client succinctly describes his
or her talents is a good starting place. Add a few cutaways — perhaps a
shot of a former place of employment, or of an alma mater — to make
it a little more visually interesting.

Step Two: Shoot the Video

When shooting a resume tape, pay special attention to the finer details
of lighting, audio and composition. You wouldn’t want to blow someone’s
chances at a job because of a simple, easily curable white balance problem,
would you?

If you lack the equipment necessary to set up a standard three-point lighting
scenario, consider shooting outdoors. Brightly lit days are not usually
the best choice, as they often result in video that has too much contrast.
An overcast day provides the most even lighting. If possible, choose a location
that says something about your client personally, such as a favorite park
or nature spot. The idea here is to create a commercial about your client,
one that sells both him and his skills to the viewer. As you shoot, keep
your eye out for useful cutaway material. For example, if you’ve decided
to mention that your client was raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia, include
a shot or two of the city.

While shooting, be sure to vary the camera angle as well as the focal length
of the lens. Begin with a wide shot, then move in for some closeups. Once
edited, this sequence will help to fight the boredom inherent in a resume

Using an external microphone is essential. You don’t want a potential employer
to have to strain to hear what your client is saying. Aim for an easy, conversational
tone that’s accessible but not too familiar. Have your subject imagine himself
sitting in a chair across the desk from a person who’s conducting a job
interview. Consider taping the entire narration in a single shot, for use
in editing.

Step Three: The Edit

In the video resume, as in most types of video productions, timing is
crucial. Try to make the final production play smoothly from start to finish,
with no apparent breaks in the natural flow of your subject’s speech.

Titles play a special role in the making of a video resume. A well-placed
title can call attention to qualifications that your client would like to
emphasize. For example, if your client mentions the fact that she has a
Ph.D. in Astrophysics, have the words "Ph.D., Astrophysics" appear
on screen as she speaks. End the video with a full screen graphic highlighting
her full name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, etc. on screen,
and let it run for a good twenty seconds or so. Give plenty of time for
the viewer to find a pen and take in the information.

Title graphics can also play an important part in the opening segment of
a video resume. If you have the means to place still graphics in a video,
consider creating a personalized graphic that skillfully introduces your
client’s personality to the viewer. A simple picture of your client dressed
in professional attire is a good starting point. Used together with an appropriately
impressive font displaying her name will quickly give the viewer an idea
of exactly whom they’re dealing with.

Because the subject matter of a video resume is often less than exciting,
it’s important to use a musical background to raise the audience’s interest
level a few notches. In most cases, you should choose a musical track that’s
not too individualistic or off-the-wall. Go for something smart, but laid
back, like a good piece of Mozart or Bach. Plenty of classical music is
available in the public domain, or in several fine collections of royalty-free

Step Four: Deliver the Product

Whatever video format you shoot on, you really have only one choice
for final distribution: VHS. Though other video formats are certainly popular
among video enthusiasts, none have the installed base of playback VCRs that
VHS has. The last thing you want is a tape no one can easily view.

Be sure to create a professional-looking set of labels for your tapes. If
you have the means to create labels on your home computer, these work very
well. Also, put the tape in a good plastic case before sending it off. This
will both insure that the tape arrives intact, and give an impression of
seriousness and professionalism once it arrives. Cue each tape to a point
around five seconds before the start of the program in order to minimize
the effort required by the viewer (who, as you recall, will have plenty
of other resumes to look at along with yours).

Finally, remember that the video resume is best used as a supplement to
an ordinary, paper-based resume. The same set of rules apply to both: be
succinct, direct, and to the point, and your client’s chances of success
will be much greater.

The Videomaker Editors are dedicated to bringing you the information you need to produce and share better video.