You have seven seconds to impress a hiring manager: about as long as it takes to read this sentence.

In fact, you probably have less than that. South Africa is bleeding jobs as the Covid-19 lockdown continues to strangle the economy. The country is expected to shed up to four million jobs this year. Unemployment is expected to creep closer to 40%, and experts only expect a recovery in three years.

With more people competing for fewer jobs, you have to stand out. Recruiters will be overwhelmed with applications and will be skimming through them even faster. Some might use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to streamline the hiring process and ensure that only the best candidates rise to the top of the pile.

One way to do that is to make yourself more marketable, by supplementing your traditional CV with a video CV. Candidates who have a video attached, when being represented by a Recruitment Agency, are 78% more likely to land an interview with a prospective employer.

Why video?

Because it’s different, unexpected, and will get recruiters’ attention. Unless you’re applying for a position in the film industry, it’s unlikely that recruiters will ask for a video CV. So, it will be especially effective when applying for a creative role or one that requires you to engage with clients, serve customers, or speak publicly. Videos also communicate what traditional CVs can’t: your personality, speaking style, passion, and communication skills. So, if you want to try your hand at a video CV, here are some tips:

  • Know your audience. Tailor your content to the position you’re applying for and the company. A video targeted at a recruiter in the financial industry will be vastly different to one targeted at a tech start-up.Keep it short. Ninety seconds – max.
  • Dress for the job. Dress for an interview but add personal style touches, like a funky tie.
  • Know what you want to say. Highlight your skills and experience, and why you’re a good fit for X role at Y company. Talk about your goals and achievements, and briefly touch on hobbies and interests.
  • Practice. Prepare a script but don’t read from one. Practice until it comes naturally, then hit record. You’ll come across relaxed and confident.
  • Eliminate distractions. Clutter, a patterned background, a cat walking in front of the camera. Small distractions can draw your viewer’s attention away from the subject: you. Use a solid background colour and natural lighting. And don’t record it from your bed!
  • Add B-roll footage. Keep your viewer engaged through images and footage. These could include examples of your work or footage of you pitching for new business, training teams, or presenting year-end financials. It’s a dynamic way to highlight your skills.
  • Connect your CVs. Embed or link to your video in your traditional CV. In your video, encourage viewers to read your traditional CV for details on your experience, skills, and qualifications.
  • Aim for quality. In sound, video, lighting, background – everything. But don’t sacrifice file size for quality. Either compress your video significantly before sending, or host a high-quality one online and link to it.
  • Edit. Awkward pauses, ums and ahs, and hadedas shouldn’t make an appearance.
  • End strongly. Leave the ball in the recruiter’s court with a call to action to invite you for an interview, read your traditional CV, or contact you for more information.
  • Relax. Smile, look directly at the camera, sit up straight, and speak at a comfortable, natural pace.
  • Be yourself. The video isn’t going to land you the job. Only you can do that. So be authentic and genuine.

Videos are not meant to replace your traditional CV, but to enhance your application and market yourself in a different, engaging way. You still need to communicate your value through a traditional CV.

Your digital footprint is key

Consider creating a profile webpage to ensure you have a great and consistent story to tell which you are proud of. From your cover letter and traditional CV to your LinkedIn profile. People trust people who are consistent. It’s also a great way to build your network. Connect with recruitment agencies that can match you with employers and roles perfect for your skills, interests, and values.

Use your time in-between job applications and interviews to reskill or upskill yourself. Employer expectations are changing as younger people enter the workforce. They bring a willingness and expectation to use technology to do their jobs better and faster, and employers and recruitment agencies are starting to list these in job adverts.

Find a reputable company in your field of interest and browse its job opportunities and role requirements. Identify your own skills gaps and use this time to take free online courses with reputable institutions to fill them.

Technology offers new ways for businesses to deliver learning and development opportunities to their people. COVID-19 has proven that e-learning and virtual classrooms offer flexible, informal, and convenient ways for people to learn at their own pace. And I believe it’s the beginning of a revolution in corporate training as well.

By Matthew Kibby at Sage Africa & Middle East

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