STEVE INSKEEP, host:
It is a Wednesday morning, even though it feels like Friday. And on Wednesdays, we focus on the workplace.
Today, we take a look at a new trend among job seekers: video resumes. Forget the old-fashioned paper way. Wannabe managers are now making mini films to display their talents to perspective employers, maybe hoping eventually for the multi-million dollar bonus.
But as NPR's Frank Langfitt reports, companies should be careful how they respond to these computerized close-ups.
FRANK LANGFITT: Just punch the words video resume into YouTube, and here's some of the people you're likely to meet.
Mr. ALAN GOLDBRICK(ph): Hi. My name is Alan Goldbrick. I am a job applicant.
Mr. CHIANG YEO(ph): Hi. My name is Chiang Yeo. And in less than two minutes, I would like to tell you about my work history and other…
Mr. MANOLO CELLI(ph): Hello. My name is Manolo Celli. I'm 28 years old. I'm in Miami, Florida, and my current occupation is well, looking for occupation.
LANGFITT: Video resumes are not new. They've been around for years. But as broadband connections have grown and making videos becomes so easy, more people are posting them on the Net. Some are just producing conventional, personal introductions. Others take a more creative approach.
Trent Willis is a young political consultant in Alabama. He wants to work on K Street - Washington's lobbyist row, so he turned his resume into a parody of a campaign attack ad.
(Soundbite of video resume)
(Soundbite of explosions, gunfire)
Mr. TRENT WILLIS (Political Consultant): Do you really know Trent Willis? Trent Willis attended the University of Alabama, where he studied public relations and where you legally drink.
LANGFITT: Willis says he had to do something different to get noticed.
Mr. WILLIS: I'm not an Ivy League student. My resume would have looked like any other sheet of paper. And that was exactly the problem that I had to counteract.
LANGFITT: Willis e-mailed his materials to various firms and includes a link to his video resume on YouTube. He says the response has been good.
Mr. WILLIS: And I've got interviews set up all throughout the month of January.
LANGFITT: One thing that caught the eye of potential employers was Willis' sense of humor.
(Soundbite of video resume)
Mr. WILLIS: He says he's willing to relocate, and that his salary would always be negotiable. And now, Trent Willis wants your money. Trent Willis, wrong for unemployment.
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. COLBURN AKER (Director, Public Relations Firm, Washington, D.C.): And that made me laugh.
LANGFITT: That's Colburn Aker. He runs a public relations firm on K Street.
Mr. AKER: I get about, oh, I guess, at least one or two e-mails a day from people looking for a job. When his came in, what amazed me was not just that he did it, but he did it in such a way that his creative ability came through. And I thought that was most extraordinary, because mostly you get pretty serious people submitting their resume, and they don't really do a very good job of it.
LANGFITT: Aker says his company doesn't have any openings now.
Mr. AKER: But if he were here, he would be a serious contender for any position I'd have.
LANGFITT: Of course, pitching yourself on video can backfire. Ask Alexi Vaner(ph). The Yale student sent a video resume to an investment banking firm, showing off his athletic prowess and spouting self-improvement slogans. He called the video “Impossible is Nothing.” Vaner didn't come off very well.
Mr. ALEXI VANER (Student, Yale): When people tell you that you won't be able to achieve something, cross them out of your life. Ignore the losers.
LANGFITT: Someone posted it online, and Vaner became a target of mass ridicule. Some job hunters know they risk mockery, but say it's worth it. Take Gerald Shields. He's a Tech Support Engineer in Norfolk, and he's dying to move.
Mr. GERALD SHIELDS (Tech Support Engineer): It's simple. I had to stay in Virginia. I wish to escape from this place, then spend the rest of my days praying that I'll never come back here. But, in a way, get my resume.
LANGFITT: Some entrepreneurs think video resumes have potential. One startup, Recruit TV, is trying to build an online space where candidates and firms can share videos. But Peggy Mastroianni says companies should cautious. She works as Associate Legal Council at the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.
Video can reveal information - race, religion, disabilities - that shouldn't figure in who gets an interview and who doesn't. Mastroianni says firms will have to train screeners to ignore appearances and focus strictly on qualifications.
Ms. PEGGY MASTROIANNI (Associate Legal Council, Equal Opportunity Employment Commission): Employers have got to be more careful. The fact that they have seen a video resume requires that they think harder about the decisions they're making than they would if they had a paper resume.
LANGFITT: It's too early to say whether video resumes will take off.
LANGFITT: So far, there don't seem to be many of them out there. Together, YouTube and Recruit TV, the new video-sharing startup, have fewer than 200. But Recruit TV hopes to change that soon. Early next year, it will head to college campuses and try to convince students that video resumes are the next big thing.
Frank Langfitt, NPR News.
INSKEEP: Links to selected video resumes are at npr.org.
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