Video résumés have long tickled imaginations in Hollywood (can a blond legally apply to Harvard via VHS?) without making much of a dent in the real world. Enter Aleksey Vayner. The Yale student submitted his video résumé, titled Impossible Is Nothing, to investment bank UBS last fall. It became a YouTube classic, while its karate-chopping, tennis-acing, deep-thought-having star became the joke of Wall Street. But another funny thing happened: Vayner's vanity creation awakened recruiters and job seekers to the possibilities of marrying the video CV to the Internet--and that may just revolutionize the job-search process as we know it.
So who will be the YouTube of video résumés? Jobster, an online job board, is teaming up with social-networking site Facebook to launch a career site featuring video résumés in March. Vault.com another job board, concluded its first video-résumé contest last week, its prize a shot at (what else?) an investment-banking job. Smaller players 62ndview, HireVue and Resumevideo are all launching widely this spring. Workplace bloggers speculate that YouTube plans to start its own video-résumé channel, although the company is noncommittal. Says Jason Goldberg, CEO of Jobster: "I can see a day when video as part of the résumé is the norm."
Job seekers aren't waiting. On YouTube, there are already 1,590 entries listed under résumé. Not all are what you would call serious ("After losing his powers at the end of X-Men 3, Magneto is forced to apply for a job at the local Starbucks"). The best ones, though, are smart, colorful and effective. Benjamin Hampton, a recent graduate of Washington State University in Pullman, posted a 5 1/2-min. video on YouTube last fall, thinking it would be something different to send to employers. (To view Hampton's video résumé, go to TIME.com. With his brother at the camera, the résumé "took me 45 minutes to film and 30 minutes to edit," says Hampton, 23. But that was enough to impress Waggener Edstrom Worldwide. The public relations firm interviewed him--in person--a short time ago.
Not many employers are trolling YouTube for candidates, which is where the new online services come in. Resumevideo sends online "postcards" of job candidates to a network of mostly not-for-profit employers. 62ndview wants its site to be a portal for job seekers, who would view videos of potential workplaces, and for employers, who could check out potential hires. HireVue sends webcams to job candidates, who use them to answer real-time interview questions. Employers can view the clips immediately online, saving time and money by eliminating the first round of in-person interviews.
The thing is, not all people are cut out for their three minutes of online-video fame. A Vault.com post features a blue-shirted manager with a knee jiggle and a boring spiel. A job-seeking techie on YouTube admits charmingly that he has no experience editing videos--and then packs his with gimmicky cutaways. One software engineer scores his with gangsta rap. And did I just fast-forward through that video on HireVue because of the guy's bad teeth?
The paper résumé is egalitarian, more or less, and that's why human-resources people are wringing their collective hands over visually enhanced job applications. Many recruiters won't even accept CVs with photos attached for fear of lawsuits. Some companies even block out the candidate's name, citing studies that showed bias toward the white-sounding ones. They're worried that video résumés will invite lawsuits by candidates who could claim bias based on race, gender or age--indiscernible on paper but not on video.
No one has yet filed a major lawsuit for discrimination by video résumé. But George Lenard, a St. Louis, Mo., employment lawyer, can envision a case centered on "disparate impact." If an employer requires applications by video, then those without video cameras and broadband-equipped computers might argue they lacked access. Of course, he adds, the live interview process is hardly infallible. He cites a 2000 Princeton study that examined orchestras' penchant for hiring male musicians as an example of "disparate treatment." When screens were put up--now a common practice in auditions--the gender skewing disappeared.
Once the rest of the YouTube generation enters the workplace, "video résumés are going to be as ubiquitous as PDAs or iPods," says Mark Oldman, a co-president of Vault.com. Just leave out the gangsta rap. For your sake and ours.