June 01, 2020 6 min read

To video resume or not, that is indeed the question during an already stressful job search. CMA NXT challenges its users to push their creative boundaries and try it out for themselves. For inspiration, look at Sheldon Rodrigues, VP Marketing & Strategic Initiatives, CMA, video resume, and how it landed him a job as a newcomer to Canada. What is it about his video resume? Was it the years of marketing experience he made sure to mention? Was it his technical skill with a camera? Steve Joordens, a Psychology Professor at the University of Toronto, who some of you might recognize in the CMA NXT Marketing Yourself videos, sits down with Sheldon to discuss the art of producing a video resume.

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Before You Hit Record

Hand holding a SmartphoneWith candid curiosity, Steve dives into the conversation by asking Sheldon to start at the pre-production stage or what he calls the “before you hit record” part. It may seem obvious that equipment and lighting would be at top of mind for Sheldon’s video resume, but it was simpler than that. He drew on his background in marketing and advertising to strategize what he was going to say, and how he was going to say it.

He points out that much of the video content we consume today, whether on giant platforms like YouTube or something new and emerging like TikTok, follows a certain style. It keeps our attention. It’s not the special effects, although that makes it fun. It’s the way those content creators speak to us, like we’re there in the room with them. They hope we connect with what they’re saying, and when we do, we continue watching. For a video resume, that key messaging needs to be layered in with meticulous care for the maximum connection between viewer and creator.

If you're doing a video resume, it's about portraying: Who are you? What are your core values? What do you believe in? And what do you stand for? — Sheldon Rodrigues

Steve asks the question we’re all wondering to Sheldon on how exactly to accomplish storytelling in a video resume. Why it’s a method that many filmmakers and creators use. Star Wars. Lord of the Rings. (Sheldon’s favourites. Ours too.) They had a lot of material to get through and had to be picky. So should you. The storyboard is an essential tool to help you decide what key information to include about yourself, and how to present it to the viewer. Here’s a quick framework to help you get started:

  1. Setup: Where Are We, and Who Are You? Have your opening scene layout all the answers to the obvious questions.
  2. Identify the Problem: Why Should They Care? Introduce your problem to your viewer in a way that makes them empathize to your struggle, and hustle.
  3. The Resolution: Your Sweet Victory Reveal your triumphant moment (or moments) of when you conquered that obstacle.
  4. And Now What: AKA, Your CTA Sheldon makes sure to point out to Steve that a CTA is vital at the end of the video resume. You’ve just taken your viewer on an emotional rollercoaster, and it’s time to ask them to act on those feelings. How do you want them to proceed from here?

So remember, your professional journey has all the best parts of a story: a beginning, a conflict, a resolution. Plus get that CTA message loud and clear. You are marketing yourself after all.

Pay Attention and No Spoilers, Please

As a Psychology Professor Steve knows everything there is to know about short attention spans. He notes to Sheldon that “It can be a challenge to keep people engaged in your video. And the last thing you want is some HR manager to press stop.” So, the question remains, how do you keep your viewer engaged in your video resume? Especially if it’s a bit longer than the average attention span?

Your first instinct for a video resume will be to keep it tailored to a specific timeframe. However, in Sheldon’s case, his video resume runs four minutes long. He’s no stranger to being asked on his video’s length. He explains to Steve that video length doesn’t matter, but rather the context behind the content that keeps the viewer watching. He observes that Star Wars fans would watch a four-hour movie straight because they are invested in the story. The same applies to your video resume which starts with a story, Steve expresses, that’s conscientiously reflected in the video’s details to draw in the viewer. Take your viewer on a journey worthy of the stars, the George Lucas version of you.

Sheldon's Video Resume Screenshot

Whether it’s a book, film, tv series, or in your case, a video resume, no one wants to know the ending off the bat. Having a few tactics helps offset predictability, and one Sheldon employs in his video resume is what he calls ‘pattern interrupts’. They are moments of interruption meant to break up the monotony of the video to take the viewer by surprise. “For example,” Steve recalls to him with excitement, “you leave the room and go out to a big wall.” In this scene, instead of Sheldon continuing speaking on his couch, he physically moves location to deliver a great quote. Did you expect that? Well neither did we! Using his creativity, Sheldon uses pattern interrupts again and again in his video resume to keep all of us on our toes. We won’t mention them all here, because, well, no spoilers, please.

The Power of Pull Marketing, Biochemistry & Answering the Why

Steve observes though that these pattern interrupts have a dual purpose too. “[Your pattern interrupts] are saying things about you as well.”What he means by that is that they point out Sheldon’s characteristics, skillset, or personality without ever directly speaking about them. Flashback to the wall Sheldon walks out to just to emphasize a point. It moves the story forward unexpectedly keeping the viewer’s attention, highlights his video editing skills and his quirky sense of humour.

Be warned that a pattern interrupt shouldn’t just be used for the sake of surprising your viewer. It requires a purpose behind it to entice the viewer to continue watching. This tactic is what Sheldon calls pull marketing where he’s inviting the viewer to see what he has to offer and building intrigue. He’s not pushing the viewer away with a lengthy skillset list that sounds like computer specs. He’s positively playing on their emotions. Like that notification on your phone, you’ve been interrupted in your daily programming and it’s exciting to check, to discover what’s going on. Did we mention that Sheldon also has a psychology background? He geeks out with Steve about how the dopamine response in our biochemistry works, and that effective marketing triggers that emotional response.

This brings Steve’s attention to the fact that you walk away from Sheldon’s video resume with a sense of who he is as a person, or as he cheerfully describes “what it’s like to have an office across [from] you”. Sheldon knows from his own experience as a hiring manager that technical skills usually become outdated quickly in today’s fast-paced technological world. It was important to him to express his soft skills, so managers might have an emotional connection with him, and imagine him as someone who could fit on their team. He’s answering the ‘why’ behind the things he does, rather than how he does them or what he does.

It’s an Inspiration Train, Take A Ride

It's not about just the length of the video resume, it's about the context as well. And if you can add context, then people will watch it all the way through. —Sheldon Rodrigues
When you’re creative, inspiration is everywhere even in the most unexpected places. Sheldon confides to Steve that a scene in his video resume was partially influenced by another YouTube creator he had watched. This process is something Steve relates to as a fellow musician, as he puts it, “every song is just stealing from previous songs. That’s what creatives do.” Let’s be clear. They are not recommending you take other people’s ideas. What they are encouraging is to look for inspiration in one form or another and learn how to adapt it to your unique style. That’s the trademark of any true artist.

So take a peek at Sheldon’s video resume and get your mind rolling with ideas that are uniquely your own. Don’t dread making your video resume. Don’t let it intimidate you. Rather, hop on the inspiration train and let your creativity take a ride. You might surprise yourself and discover all the greatness you have to offer was right there in the first place. Or as Steve says, “You’re trying to wrap that all up in a relatively fun package that will make people want to know more.”


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How to get creative with your video resume to help you stand out and get hired
How to get creative with your video resume to help you stand out and get hired
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