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by Joe Turner | March 10, 2009


A video resume could get your foot in the door of that "just right" company. Don't end up with egg on your face, though. Before you make that video, check out these nine common mistakes and how you can avoid each one.

1. It runs too long: Don't bore the hiring managers. Your video should be a short, inspiring pitch. Think "less is more." Keep it under two minutes, preferably about one minute should get your message across.

2. You don't know who you are: Prepare your "elevator pitch" before you record. Commonly known as a USP, or "unique selling proposition," this is a one-sentence pitch that describes the single biggest benefit that you bring to a potential employer. For example:

"I'm a seasoned sales manager whose strength in creative sales and marketing techniques generated $500,000 in brand new revenue for my employer in 12 months."

3. Thinking a video resume is your resume on video: Contrary to its name, a video resume is NOT a resume. It's a 30 to 60 second ad spot to entice your viewers to look at your (digital) resume and find out more about you.

4. Rambling on camera: Put it on paper first. Think of what you want to say about yourself. Write it down in short sentences, then say it aloud. Replace any syntax problems or phrases that are hard to enunciate clearly. You speak differently than you write, so keep it in a conversational tone as if you were speaking to your real-life interviewer a few feet away.

5. Too many "ums and ahs": Don't wing it. Your finished product should be compelling. This is the most professional image you want to present, so prepare ahead of time and memorize your script. This won't be hard since it should only be about a half to three-quarters of a page in length and only cover a few simple points. Remember, you won't have notes in the interview room, either.

6. Severe case of "Serious Face": Have a bit of fun with it. You want to project enthusiasm. Think "upbeat" and smile when you look into the camera. Imagine that you are meeting with a flesh and blood hiring manager at a great company who already likes what she sees.

7. Giving far too much information: Remember the "KISS" formula (keep it simple, stupid). You want to whet their appetites to know more. Give them just enough info to tantalize them. End with an invitation to check out even more interesting info on your resume.

8. Uninviting appearance: Remember, a video resume is a type of interview, so dress the part. Give the appearance of someone in the role you're applying for. You will also have some background showing on the video. Make sure it's not your dirty laundry or the clutter of your bedroom. Try standing against a relatively bare wall. You want them looking at you and not what's behind you.

9. Too many "Clowns": No arms folded or hands on hips. While it's OK to use your hands to accentuate, watch out for those "clowns." These are what acting coaches call unnecessary repetitive arm movements that, on playback, tend to make you appear like a clown, i.e., humorous. You don't want unintentional laughs. Keep your arms and hands by your side as much as possible.

Your video resume can open new doors for you. Or, it can inadvertently slam them in your face. By adhering to these few rules, you have the opportunity to let potential employers see the real "you" as you intended.

As a recruiter, Joe Turner has spent the past 15 years finding and placing top candidates in some of the best jobs of their careers. Author of Job Search Secrets Unlocked, Joe has been interviewed on several radio talk shows. Discover more insider job search secrets by visiting


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