Careers advice

Tips for making a video CV

When done well, a video CV can be a great tool for making your job application stand out.

Making yourself stand out from the crowd is one of the most common job hunter concerns, especially in New Zealand’s competitive job market.

One option is creating a video CV to accompany your traditional application. Done right, this tactic can bring your skills and experience to life, and catch the eye of a hiring manager or recruiter.

However, video CVs are easy to get wrong – so it’s important to follow these best practices:

When should you use a video CV?

Sometimes companies will specifically ask for a video CV, but it’s a rare occurrence. This means it’s often up to you whether you stay traditional or opt to use video.

Our advice here is don’t just create a video CV for the sake of it. Think about the role and organisation you’re applying to. The real benefit of video CVs is that they allow the interviewer to check out your core soft skills like communication and presentation. If these attributes will play a major part in your day-to-day work – for example if you’re in sales, creative arts, marketing or media – a video CV might be a good idea.

However, this format is less useful for more traditional jobs like construction, accounting or law.

Also, take your video skills into account. If you know how to make and edit high quality videos, great. If you’ve never done this before, be careful – a poor quality submission can actually damage your chances of success.

How to create a great video CV

1. Don’t just read your CV out

Not only will this be very boring for the viewer, your CV should be in bullet point form, so it doesn't make for a good script. Also, if you were to do this, you may as well just send them your CV in the normal form – it'd be quicker for them to read.

2. Have a script

Despite what we’ve just said, you also don’t want to try and improvise your video CV. Trust us, by take seven, you’ll wish you’d started with a script.

But what do you say in a video CV? Well the aim, like any CV, is to land a job interview. So target your content at the key requirements and responsibilities listed in the job ad. Tell the watcher why you’re the person their company needs.

We recommend having a bullet point list of your key skills, accomplishments and future goals that you can refer back to as the basis for your script.

3. Make it engaging

Don’t be afraid to get creative – after all, the point of making a video CV is to help you stand out. For example, if you’re talking about a particular skill you have, show footage of yourself doing it.

Where appropriate, humour and fun production values will make your video more interesting to watch and can help your personality shine through. That said, be sure to stay professional and not deviate from the messages you’re trying to get across.

Don't simply read from your written CV.

4. Keep it brief

How long should a video application be? Our advice is to keep your submission between 1-2 minutes. This should be enough time to hit all your key points, without going on so long that your viewers lose interest.

Top tip: time yourself running through your script and make sure you can keep it under two minutes. If you’re running over, you’re trying to include too much. Go back to your script, and cut it down.

5. Think background, noise and lighting

You don’t want the background of your video stealing the show – so keep it simple, and avoid any unmade beds, that’s not a professional look.

It’s also important that you don’t have background noise cutting across what you’re saying. Have a word with any flatmates, children or pets to keep it down while you’re making your video. And if you live next to a construction site, it might be best to make this an evening job.

As for lighting, no one’s expecting a professional setup, but avoid putting lights behind you, or having shadows across your face.

6. Dress professionally

Dress as if you were going to a job interview. This means having a good knowledge of the company dress codes for the organisation you’re applying to. If in doubt, being too smart is better than too casual.

7. Get some feedback

Show your video to some friends or family before sending it in, to get their take. Much like getting someone else to proofread a traditional CV, a new pair of eyes might spot something glaring that you’ve missed.