The Video CV: Will It Ever Work in Academia?

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Jobseekers and employers are always looking for ways to use new technology to their advantage in order to find the best jobs and the best candidates. One of the latest innovations is the video CV. This is a method of using technology that academia, at least in the UK, hasn't fully embraced yet. What is it, and could it work for you?

What is it?

A video CV is, as you would imagine from the name, a short video clip in which you present yourself, usually made using an personal digital camera rather than professional equipment. Primitive video CVs were made as early as the 1980s but because of the expensive and time-consuming method of recording they didn't catch on for most jobseekers. Most people today can easily record a video CV on digital equipment at home.

An obvious option is to have your CV hosted somewhere online so you can simply provide prospective employers with a link to a streamed video.

What message does it send?

You can use a video CV in slightly different ways depending on the sort of job you are going for. Those interested in journalism or media positions might use a video CV to showcase their on-camera skills. However, for most people the video CV simply provides a medium in which to explain your suitability for the job, while allowing employers to have a one-to-one personal view of you, thereby putting a face to a name.

Most people say who they are and talk about the their career (i.e. their job history up to that point). They also give some detail about their educational background and particular skills they have picked up along the way. Importantly, just as in a paper CV, they then say why they are seeking work in that particular field or institution.

The main focus is on personality and presentation. You want to give employers certain messages about your appearance, your professional attitude, your confidence and your approachability. Therefore, preparing to make a video CV is similar to preparing for an interview.

What it is NOT!

Video CVs should not be used simply because the technology is available. Do not sit in front of the camera and read out your paper CV as you will come across as very monotonous and uncharismatic. Also, do not try to give a lot of detailed information on a video CV about previous publications or such things as your audience won't be able to follow.

Arguments for and against

Those in favour of video CVs argue that by candidates make a greater impact in visual format than if they present themselves on a piece of paper. And for jobs where communication is essential and where you might be judged visually, video CVs could really benefit the jobseeker.

However, some employers are opposed to this technology, so make sure you don't send a video CV to an employer who is very traditional and conservative. Also it is often difficult for the candidate to produce a natural, relaxed looking video CV; you may come across as more ‘wooden' and nervous than you realise. Many people in academia are also wary of a technology where the emphasis is placed on personal appearance rather than qualifications

Will it work in academia?

Academic CVs are very different from CVs in the private sector (they are often much longer, for example). It would be difficult to convey a quantity of information about such things as courses taught or research funding won in video format.

Although academics have to present a public face when they give lectures and sometimes in other parts of their job, their presentation skills and communications skills are not judged in the same way as a journalist's might be.

Another problem is that some academic employers can be resistant to change and would rather have a pile of 100 paper CVs to go through than try to get to grips with a new and unknown technology.

Having said that, as a jobseeker it's important to be aware of new ways of presenting oneself. Also, academic recruitment may use this sort of technology in the future so there is no harm with keeping yourself abreast of innovations.


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