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Standard CVs might provide employers with a snapshot of your academic achievements, but they can’t convey your personality and passion.
This is where video CVs come in. Done properly, they can enhance your paper CV and give employers a glimpse of your true potential. Done badly, they can cause instant rejection.
We take a look at five of the most common video CV mistakes and how you can avoid making them.
Not bothering to prepare before you press the record button could result in a sloppy, unstructured video that will leave potential employers unimpressed. To avoid this, we recommend writing a script. This should begin by introducing yourself and saying why you’re applying for the job in question.
After this, you’ll need to draw attention to your experience and skills, linking them to key phrases from the job description and person specification. Give examples of how you’ve used your skills to solve problems but avoid rambling, as the video shouldn’t last longer than 2-3 minutes. Round off by stating your career goals and thanking the viewer for their time. It’s also a good idea to say that you look forward to hearing from them.
Once you’ve perfected your script, we recommend learning it, so that you’re able to maintain eye contact with the camera. Practise your lines in front of a mirror to check that you come across as confident and friendly, and then ask a few friends or family members to give you some constructive feedback.
If your mobile phone features a decent camera with a strong resolution and HD capabilities, by all means use it to film your video. If it doesn’t, you risk ending up with a film that’s grainy and badly lit. So if your phone isn’t up to the job, consider borrowing a good quality digital camera or a camcorder.
If you do opt to use your mobile camera, make sure you film in landscape orientation, so that the video can be viewed properly on computers and TVs. It’s also worth switching your phone onto airplane mode to avoid receiving any annoying phone calls!
Whether you record with a phone or a camera, don’t forget to charge it up before your first take. We also recommend mounting it on a tripod for extra stability.
You’ll probably need to film a few takes to come up with a video you’re totally happy with, which means using editing software. If you haven’t done this before, we suggest getting to grips with Windows Movie Maker. It’s simple to use and will enable you to keep your video engaging by adding a few interesting transitions and cuts. iPhone users can cut and splice their clips together using the iMovie app.
A cluttered background will distract viewers and prevent them from hearing everything you have to say. Aesthetically, it’s just not a good look. So if your student flat is riddled with rubbish and you can’t find anywhere to film in peace and quiet, find somewhere else to film your video.
Try asking friends or family if they have access to a room with plenty of natural light and a plain block coloured wall, as this makes an ideal backdrop. Avoid busy patterns or walls covered in posters and make sure that there’s no visible clutter or rubbish in the background.
You wouldn’t turn up to an interview wearing scruffy jeans, so don’t dress sloppily for your video CV. Making sure you’re smartly dressed and well-groomed will impress your potential employer and give you confidence, although this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to wear a formal suit and tie. If you’re applying for a role at a creative company, you should be safe wearing something with more of a smart casual vibe.
The person watching your video will notice your body language and make judgements before you even utter a word, so make sure you exude confidence from the word go. Standing up straight will help, as will keeping your hands by your side and trying not to fidget nervously.
When it’s time to start talking, keep your eyes on the camera, introduce yourself brightly and speak at a moderate pace, without gabbling or mumbling.
If you stuff your video with bland phrases and generic qualities you won’t stand out to potential employers. Instead, focus on your unique qualities, relevant accomplishments and why you think you’re right for the job. Include interesting experiences and your transferable skills, with examples of when you’ve used them.
Employers will be looking for compelling, engaging presentations, particularly if you’re applying for customer facing roles or jobs in PR, advertising or marketing. Use your film to communicate your passion and personality and you have every chance of success.
Promoting your video is the final step in the process. Rather than sending a large file to your potential employer, we suggest uploading your video to YouTube, setting your privacy to ‘unlisted’ (so that it’s live but not publicly viewable) and popping the link in an email, as well as on your paper CV.
Follow our top tips and you’ll produce a high quality video that should see you safely through to the shortlist. Good luck!