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Career Coach

Is a video CV or resume right for you?

About the author

Elizabeth is a freelance writer in California and a former Career Q&A columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

US Singer Shawna Thompson (Rick Diamond/Getty Images  for Thompson Square)

Singer Shawna Thompson knows the importance of video (Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

William Sjögren, an avid salsa dancer who lives in Stockholm, used an unconventional approach when he applied for a communications job last year: he created an online video of himself and a partner dancing.

He taped pieces of paper with key phrases and his contact information to his and his partner’s backs. Sjögren knew that not every hiring manager would be ready for — or even willing to consider — someone using such a novel method, so along with the video, which was originally posted on video-sharing site Vimeo, he included a link to a downloadable PDF of his resume.

While Sjögren’s approach is far from typical, it is part of a growing trend toward integrating multimedia applications, CVs and resumes into the job hunt.

“People are getting more creative and coming up with their own video ideas,” Stockholm-based author and executive career coach Charlotte Hågård wrote in an email.

There is no question that resumes and CVs have evolved. But how far they should go is still up for debate.

In small doses

Not all career experts are enamoured with the move toward multimedia.

Recruiters need to know right away if they are working with someone who is a good fit for a particular position, said Switzerland-based Grégoire Depeursinge, a managing partner and vice president with Vienna-headquartered executive search firm AIMS International, in an email. “For this, (the recruiter) needs a document he can scan fast in order to gain an impression in under one minute.”

Moving away from the traditional format or sending a video resume or CV can make that difficult. “They [multimedia formats] can at best be a complement to the classical documents, except for very specific professions” such as design and art-related roles, Depeursinge wrote.

At least LinkedIn or XING

Having a social media presence is essential. “Everyone, regardless of their profession, should have a keyword-optimised, rich content LinkedIn profile or XING profile and have a URL link that can bring a hiring manager to the profile,” said Lisa Rangel, managing director of New York-based Chameleon Resumes LLC and a former finance and accounting recruiter.

Tailor your presentation and content to what your industry or profession “dictates and can digest,” said Rangel. For example, executives in management, finance and operations could showcase their expertise by linking their professional blogs to their social media profiles. Marketing, communications and public relations professionals can demonstrate “promotional prowess” in multimedia by promoting their achievements on XING, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or other channels relevant to their product or service niche, according to Rangel, who agreed that multimedia resumes and CVs should not replace, but rather serve as complements to more traditional ones.

“The key is to include all of your social media links on your resume or CV and make your one-dimensional document interactive,” she said.

Ellis Chase, a Manhattan-based career management consultant and executive coach, though, isn’t convinced that adding multimedia aspects to traditional CVs matters all that much. “I’m far more interested in scalability than I am in content,” he said. “Can it be read quickly?  Does it look good and professional?  Will the summary give me what I need right away?  Can I find the key skills easily without slogging through dense bullets and paragraphs?”

Rise of video

But, regardless of individual recruiter preferences, video appears to be poised to be ready to go mainstream — or at least become a more mainstream option for professionals and jobseekers. LinkedIn now has a video option on users’ profiles, and Stockholm author Hågård said that she expects this to help increase the use of video in job hunting. That presents a different kind of predicament for professionals. Most people don’t know how to present themselves in front of a camera, Hagard cautioned. The majority of job-hunters should consider video-coaching services before posting videos to their profiles, she said.

To find the right person, do a Web search for an interview coach, presentation skills coach, public speaking coach or a corporate communications skills coach and choose a local expert who has access to video capabilities, suggested Chameleon Resumes’ Rangel. The cost can range anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars depending on the extent of the project, she said.

Even if you don’t plan to use video in your applications or resume, it might be worthwhile to get some coaching because the use of video isn’t limited to job candidates. An August 2013 study by OfficeTeam, a Menlo Park, California-based staffing services firm, found that 63% of human-resource managers in the US often conduct employment interviews by video. That’s up from only 14% a year earlier and the percent who use video interviews is only expected to grow.

Career Coach is a twice-monthly column on BBC Capital in which we consider the career turning points and questions many professionals face. We welcome questions from readers at careercoach@bbc.com.

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