The future of video resumes

Although video is an integral part of applying for an MBA, video resumes haven’t taken off yet. Could that change? We spoke to career coach and MBA admissions expert Colleen Paulson to find out more about this emerging trend.

In short

What is a video resume?

Have you ever had a video interview? 

In these post-COVID, Zoom-fuelled times, it’s likely that you have. But, you may not have come across a video resume before.

To find out more about them and their possible impact on the MBA industry, we spoke to Colleen Paulson. Colleen is a career coach and resume writer who previously worked in MBA admissions at the Tepper School of Business. We started by asking her what exactly a video resume is.

“It’s interesting – video resume probably isn’t the right word for it,” she tells MBAGRADSCHOOLS. “I think that’s where some of the confusion around the term comes from. It’s not like you’re sitting in front of a camera and reading your resume to someone. Instead, you’re just giving a brief introduction about yourself on video.” (01:01)

For now, video resumes are more of an accompaniment to job applications than an integral part of them. We still send off our resume to the employer, but sometimes we might also include a video resume to help us stand out.

“Sometimes folks think if you have a resume it’s just a piece of paper, and you can’t really personalize it. So, folks use a video resume as a way to differentiate themselves and introduce themselves before they get that initial screening interview. That’s really what a video resume is,” Colleen explains. (01:21)

The benefits of video resumes

Whether it’s an MBA or a job, you could be competing against tens, even hundreds, of other people. So, you need a way of standing out and making employers sit up and take notice. It means a video resume could prove valuable – particularly in certain lines of work.

“If you feel comfortable on camera and not as comfortable writing, it’s a way to introduce yourself and show off your personality,” Colleen says. “Let’s say you’re looking for a sales role or a role where you interact with people – it’s a great way to show how you relate and talk to people. Maybe you can’t get that across on a regular resume.” (02:29)

More than anything, a video resume can help project your human side. Some people would argue it’s possible to do that via a paper resume, but for those who are more comfortable communicating via video than paper, it could be a good option.

“It can help employers see the human side of someone,” Colleen asserts. “Instead of just being a piece of paper, they can see how you present yourself and your professional presence.” (03:42)

The drawbacks of video resumes

Colleen also sounds some caution about the potential pitfalls of this approach. She says the threat of implicit bias when judging applications could become even more of a problem with video.

“It can introduce bias into the process,” she says. “That’s one of the things we talk about a lot – should we be making these decisions based on first impressions?” (04:01)

Up to this point, we’ve only looked at the topic from the point of view of an applicant. So, let’s turn the tables for a second. Do employers and universities actually want to see video resumes? As someone who has worked in MBA admissions before, Colleen isn’t so sure.

“If you don’t feel comfortable on camera or the employer [or] school didn’t ask for a video resume, I’m not sure they’re necessarily going to be excited to receive one. As someone who used to review MBA applications, if you send me a video resume that I didn’t ask for, then I wouldn’t be super excited to receive it,” she explains. (04:50)

“That’s where the video resume really runs into issues,” she adds. “Should we be judging applicants based on their personality?” (05:29)

Video as part of the MBA application process

Video is an increasingly important element of the MBA application process. Given the international nature of MBA programs, video interviews are now the rule rather than the exception. A growing number of schools – including INSEAD, Kellogg, and Yale – now include a video essay component in their application process.

A video essay normally comes in a few different formats. Some schools will ask you to log in to an online platform, where you will be presented with a series of questions. You’ll then have a short amount of time to think about your answer – usually 30 seconds to a minute – before recording your response. Others ask you to record a video offline and send it to them, on a topic such as, “Introduce yourself to your future classmates.” This format is similar to that of a video resume.

Thus, we can see that video is already an important part of the MBA application process. But, how else does Colleen think it could be used?

“I can see how a video resume would help with the process of screening candidates before the main interview,” she says. “You’re being upfront and sending a video resume instead of having that initial screening, so it’s another way of getting to know more about you during that pre-discussion period.” (06:20)

Despite the increasing popularity of video in the world of MBA applications, Colleen can’t see the video resume taking over just yet. She says the format just doesn’t suit an application for an MBA, and there is a lot of crossover with your interview. 

“As far as replacing regular resumes, I don’t see that happening,” she tells us. “I can’t see anybody wanting to sit there and read through a whole resume on camera – you kind of do that in the interview instead. But it’ll be interesting to see where it goes, especially with where video is at.” (06:33)

Watch this space!

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