Career advice

How to create a video application for a job

So, you've been asked to submit a video application for a job. Now what? Don't freak out! You can do this. It's actually pretty easy and can even be fun.

Employers are increasingly using technology in the hiring process. It's a development that began long before the COVID-19 pandemic and has since been accelerated by those events. From Applicant Tracking Systems to social media monitoring to Zoom interviews, it's all pretty standard now. So, it's no surprise that demand for video applications is also on the rise.

Why employers ask for video applications

There are many reasons why a potential employer might want you to create a video application. For one thing, it gives the hiring manager a chance to see your personality in a way that simply isn't possible in a written application. It's also an excellent way to weed out lazy people and those who may not be as interested in the job or who can't – or won't – follow instructions.

Anyone can send a resume, which is why companies often get hundreds of applications for a job. You should be customizing your resume to every job for which you apply, but many people don't do this. They just toss resumes out into the world for any old job to see if they hear back, and that sort of applicant is less likely to take the time to create and submit a video application because it takes time and effort to do it right. Going as far as creating a video shows that the applicant has read the application instructions and is willing to put in the extra effort because they genuinely want the job. These are all good signs for the hiring manager.

One might also decide to create a video application without being asked to do so. This is pretty rare, so it will surely set a candidate apart from everyone else and make them stand out. It shows you're willing to go the extra mile and eager to prove yourself. This is likely to work better in some industries than others. Sectors and positions it could go over well include, but aren't limited to: marketing, sales, project management, teaching, social media, charities, and fundraising.

When and how to submit a video application

If the company is asking for a video, they will give you instructions on how to do it. They will probably ask for a specific format and length and tell you how to send it to them.

If they're not asking, and you're just doing it yourself, the best way to do this is to post it on YouTube and include the link, with your application, in your resume, cover letter, or both. You can set the video to "unlisted" on YouTube, meaning that it can be seen and shared by anyone with the link, but won't appear in the "videos" tab of your channel homepage or show up in YouTube's search results (unless someone adds your unlisted video to a public playlist).

How to create a video job application

You can record the video on your phone and use the editing software available on your device or computer. Companies don't expect you to shell out for fancy equipment. A simple clip of you talking for a couple of minutes (or whatever length of time the company asks for) is acceptable. If you have the chops to add graphic elements or do cutting, that's also great. Go for it (especially if you're applying for a job that requires those skills). But, in most cases, it's not necessary. Many people already have video-making skills from posting on TikTok or Instagram. Use those skills.

Be careful of sound quality and lighting.

What to include in a video job application

The goal of the video application is to demonstrate that you're the perfect person for the job. Introduce yourself, discuss your skills and qualifications, and include some (not too much) information about your lifestyle and hobbies. If you can visually demonstrate some of your work in a compelling way, this might be a good time to do that with graphics.

The format should go something like this:

Introduction: Who you are and what job you're applying for.

Your elevator pitch: Why you're the perfect person for the job in one minute or less.

Your skills and qualifications: Highlight the things that make you awesome and set you apart from the competition.

Your achievements: Talk about the times you tripled productivity, saved money, won an award, or truly blew it out of the water in some other way.

Who you are as a person and what you enjoy outside of work: Talk about yourself and your interests. Highlight the things that make you interesting. Don't talk about how you like to lie around and binge-watch Netflix. Talk about your volunteer work or your love of marathon running or cold water swimming.

Closing: Discuss your interest in the role and company and why you want to work for them. Thank them for their time and state your contact information. You might also include it on the screen. Sign off. 

That being said, if there are specific instructions for what to include, follow them to the letter.

Here are some more tips for making a great video application:

Dos and Don'ts:

Do: Be prepared

Plan and prepare. Don't just wing it. Write out what you want to talk about and create a script. Find a suitable space to record your video where you won't be interrupted and where the background is clean and suggests a level of professionalism. Think about your staging. Your location should be well-lit and have little to no background noise. Depending on the job and what is appropriate, you can probably stage your video indoors or outdoors. For a more serious and buttoned-up office environment, choose something adequately office-like.

If it's a marketing role in a more laid-back environment, you can get more creative. The same principle applies to what you wear.

Practice and memorize your script. Try it in front of a mirror and invite a friend to give you feedback. Then record yourself, watch the recording, and make any required tweaks.

Do: Be warm, friendly, and professional

Smile, relax, and be confident and enthusiastic. Practice your body language to convey these things. Sit or stand up straight, don't fidget. Keep your language professional and avoid filler words like "like" and "you know." Speak clearly, don't mumble, and don't ramble on.

Do: Highlight the best things about you

Talk about your strengths and skills. Highlight the absolute best things about you and list any extra qualifications. Look at the job description and be sure to include the skills and qualifications listed there, just like you would in your resume.

Do: Be your best authentic self

Let the real you shine through. Be creative and funny if that's who you are. But don't force it. If you're more of a serious person, be serious. There is no value in trying to be something you're not. If you get the job, you're going to be working with these people for eight hours a day, five days a week, so you might as well be your authentic self and let them decide if you're a fit or not.

Don't: Rehash your resume

If you are also submitting a written resume, which you probably are, finding ways to make your video application different from that document is crucial. Include additional information and showcase it in different ways.

Don't: Get cutesy

We hope this goes without saying, but don't use cutesy filters that give you huge lips or make you look like a cat or any of the other bizarre filters available these days. Keep it professional.

Don't: Rush through it

Take your time and pay attention to detail. You only get one shot here, so don't do a half-baked job and call it good enough. Take the time it takes and send a polished video application. You'll be glad you put in the effort.

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