The task of updating your CV has been a fairly standard procedure over the past couple of years: Open the file with your old resume, write in your new work experience or study programme, and then spend two hours fiddling with (and occasionally swearing at) the layout functions.

We are already aware that those days are somewhat over. The classic CV is already complemented with online profiles and things are moving further - quite literally so as the options to present yourself to potential employers via motion picture are evolving. Once a joking matter on US sitcoms like “How I Met Your Mother” (for anyone who is not familiar with Barney’s “possimpible”, have a look below), it is not uncommon for employers nowadays to ask for a video accompanying your application. Therefore, we have jotted down a couple of tips to consider for the making off.


Why video CVs are popular with recruiters

First of all, employers see this as a measure of preselection. Shooting a video CV requires a bit more effort than simply making some updates to a written document, so the assumption is that only the most ambitious candidates will actually go through with it.

Also, it saves time in the hiring process. Normally, recruiters have to screen written CVs and cover letters to get a sense of who the applicant is. Based on that impression (that they often get within mere 30 seconds), they make a decision whom to invite to an interview. The video application offers a glimpse at your skills and your personality at the same time.

Now you might be thinking: “But this is unfair, I signed up for a business degree, not to be the next Alfred Hitchcock”. You have a point, but look at it this way: Humans (and - surprise - hiring managers are human, too) have different styles when it comes to learning new information. While some prefer visual presentations, others absorb information better when hearing it. A video CV has the advantage that it caters to both learning styles, thus, giving you the option to get noticed by more potential employers.  

What to include in your video

Arguably, a video application makes more sense for some fields than for others. If a big part of the job revolves around representing a company to external parties like in sales or PR, a motion picture CV can help you showcase the skills that are needed on the job. Plus, it is a good test for yourself to see how you perform in a situation where you are put on the spot.

In creative roles like design or architecture, a video can be a good way to walk people through your portfolio. Instead of presenting your personality in the video, you could focus on a slideshow of your work and narrate the story behind it.

For other jobs, the benefits of a video application may be less obvious, but still give you a chance to stand out from the crowd. Just taping your 30-second elevator pitch may actually be enough. Optimally, the length of an online video shouldn’t exceed the 2:30-minute mark as viewer engagement tends to falter severely after two minutes.

Okay, so how do I do this?

As you mentioned before, you are not Alfred Hitchcock - so here are a couple of basics you need to know for producing your own video CV (alright, if you happen to be Peter Jackson or Christopher Nolan, you can probably skip this part, too). There are four areas you need to have covered for your video application:

1. Script

You may not submit a written application, but that doesn’t mean you can skip the writing bit completely. In the script, you should briefly outline what will happen in your video CV. At the very least you should write out the different ‘actions’ (= what the viewer will see, e.g. yourself or a slideshow of your work) and sound bits (= what the viewer will hear, such as music or a voiceover). A one-pager for a script is enough.   

2. Appearance

Most of the rules for a video CV are the same as for a Skype interview...the two are pretty similar, except that you lack the questions of the interviewer and, therefore, have to do all the talking. Make sure that the lighting angle does not hide your face in the shadow and wear plain clothes (patterns tend to make us look like an optical illusion on screen). The rules for confident body language and public speaking apply as well.

If you are unsure about how you some across on screen, start off by practicing your elevator pitch in front of the camera and proceed to make a video CV once you are comfortable with that.  

3. Technology

While most mobile phones can shoot videos in a decent quality, it may be worth getting your hands on a digital camera for your video application. The picture quality is still higher than on phones and they are easier to stabilise by using a tripod. Once you’ve shot the movie, you have a big choice of free video editing software as well as programmes that come with your laptop such as iMovie or MovieMaker.

4. Distribution

Once you’re happy with the result, you can upload it to platforms such as Youtube or Vimeo - once the video is uploaded you can use the link to embed them into your online profiles or share it directly with potential employers.


Matthew Epstein and his infamous Google application


The creative ransom  


You can find more examples and inspiration among these creative applications.

All set? Then…