Tips for making video resumes

If you're applying for an English-teaching job in Japan, your potential employer wants to know how personable you are, something that's difficult to glean from a written resume. Similarly, if you're applying for a non-teaching job in a Japanese company, your potential employer wants to know your level of spoken Japanese and possibly reassurance that gaijin are not scary-looking aliens.

Video resumes, whether in English, Japanese or both, can accomplish this. Although it doesn't replace your regular resume and cover letter, it could boost your job application and put you ahead of the other candidates. To create one, you could just turn on your webcam now and say whatever's on your mind for a minute or two. However for more professional, job-winning results, some preparation is necessary.

Good examples

To provide you with some inspiration, here are a couple of video resumes that would appeal to potential employers. Their styles are appropriate to their respective fields and show the character of the person well.

Angelica Pinili, English teacher:

Niala Ammori, Sales & account management:

Tips

Now for some practical advice to get you started...

  • Speak clearly. An obvious tip, but particularly important if the watcher is likely to be Japanese (or any non-native English speaker).
  • If you think it's appropriate you could use background music, as long as it's subtle and not too loud. A good source of royalty-free music you can use is incompetech.com
  • Relax and smile! No matter what you're skills, you need to appear to be friendly and easy to work with. It's not for a dating site so don't try to look cool — try to look employable.
  • Closely look at other video resumes with an employer's mindset and think about whether you'd hire them and why or why not.
  • Definitely do not just read your resume/CV — in fact, don't read anything. After preparing what you're going to say, you could have a few indexed cards with one or two words on as reminders, but no more than that. If you practise enough you won't have trouble remembering what to say.
  • Keep it short — up to one or two minutes should be plenty. Recruiters are busy people so a self-introduction is enough. You don't need to go into much detail because that's what your paper resume/CV and a possible interview is for.
  • What to say? Avoid reeling off facts about yourself and instead describe your character and what drives you. Recalling a particular achievement from your past would help to bring out your enthusiasm as well as demonstrating your ability to get results.
  • You could target the video resume at a specific company but if you do, put it on a unique, un-guessable URL and don't link to it or share it except with that particular company.
  • Use a high stand for your laptop or tripod for your camera with some good lighting. Try next to a window with indirect sunlight and avoid distracting backgrounds. Wistia has some great video-making tips for non-experts: http://wistia.com/learning/video-production
  • Camera shy? If you can't face showing your face you could record an audio resume, which is still an effective way of showing your character and language skills.
  • The American Association of Retired Persons also has some good advice about how to make a video resume (apart from their suggestion of using a mobile phone).

One more thing...

And finally, if all that job searching is getting you down, lift your spirits with some examples of how not to create a video resume.

Incredible Michael Spafferty:

Smooth Dave Pedersen:

Awesome Dave:

Anon (probably a good thing):