A cheetah bounds across a grassy savannah, its tail parallel with the ground.
Shortly after, a semi truck drops from the sky and explodes once it hits the earth. Painted on the side of the truck is just one word: “detail-oriented.”
These are some of the images captured in the video résumé of Barney Stinson, the silver-tongued womanizer portrayed by actor Neil Patrick Harris in CBS’s primetime sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”
No longer reserved for television’s fictional philanderers, video résumés have become a recent trend among today’s job seekers, says Kansas University Career Center Director David Gaston.
“It’s fun stuff if you have the skills to shoot and edit it, not to mention deliver it in an entertaining and professional way,” he says. “Making any kind of video is not easy.”
Those who are in any of the creative services industries such as journalism, communications, social media and any type of design should consider creating a video résumé, as long as it is relevant to the position they’re applying for, Gaston says.
No matter the medium of the résumé, job seekers should strive to demonstrate what value they could offer their potential employer, Gaston says.
Patty Noland, career development coordinator for KU’s journalism school, agrees.
“The people who are successful at finding jobs and internships are the ones who take the time to research the employer and their needs, and then articulate how they can fill those needs,” Noland says. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.”
Both Noland and Gaston say that knowing one’s audience is crucial to creating a successful video résumé.
“Give them what they want,” Gaston says, “although I would view a video résumé as more like a portfolio or another part of the package. You don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket by just doing a video résumé.”
Exploding trucks and lightning-quick beasts aside, video résumés can be as straightforward as someone discussing their qualifications in front of the camera or as intricate as a music video with links to one’s blog and website, as seen on the social and digital media news website Mashable.com.
Applicants should create their own video résumés rather than pay someone to create it for them, Gaston says.
“If you don’t do it yourself, it could be perceived that you’re saying you have skills that you actually don’t have, which starts the relationship in a negative way if the employer finds out,” he says. “You have to find your unique way of telling your story and decide how you want to portray it.”
Sending a video résumé to employers may open the door for discrimination, Gaston says.
This isn’t an entirely uncommon occurrence among broadcast journalism students who send footage of themselves anchoring to television stations, says Terry Bryant, who worked as a television reporter, meteorologist and sportscaster before becoming manager of the KU journalism school media lab in 1997.
“Sometimes these employers are looking for a certain look — it could be a white female or a male of color,” Bryant says. “If they pop that tape in and they already have six white males, they’re not going to hire another one. They’re not allowed to say that’s the reason, but it happens.”
People shouldn’t divulge too much information about themselves in their video résumés, Gaston says.
“You don’t want to give so much upfront that you don’t get the opportunity to interview in person,” he says. “The thing about an interview is that you can be there to pick up on social cues and then adjust your language accordingly. In a video, you’re kind of hitting in the dark because you’re not there to see that person who’s hearing what you’re saying.”
Gaston says he doesn’t think video résumés will replace paper résumés.
“Even if video résumés come to fruition, I don’t think they’ll be what we expect them to be,” he says. “Knowledge is being created so quickly now that there are going to be jobs and ways of finding them that we don’t even know of yet.”