Most job recruiters say that the average paper résumé is sized up within the first 10 to 30 seconds of reading. Why not shake it up and try a video résumé instead?
See also: 5 great jobs you can do from home.
Not all jobs warrant video résumés. But if you're in a line of work where all eyes are on you — sales, public speaking, tourism or fund-raising, for instance — a video résumé is a chance to show off your personality and your skills. It will also show a future employer that you're not intimidated by social media and the online world.
You'll need a computer, Internet access and camera. Consider shelling out about $50 for an HD web camera. It will dramatically sharpen your video image. Or maybe you can get a friend to shoot you with a smartphone.
Websites such as Sparkhire.com are sprouting up with easy-to-follow tutorials on how to get rolling. At Purzue.com, you can watch sample videos to see how other job seekers are showcasing themselves and their work.
I can't help but think of the famous line from the 1950 film Sunset Boulevard, when the leading character Norma Desmond (played by Gloria Swanson) says, "Just us, the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark! ... All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up."
Ready to get started? Here's what you need to do.
Prepare your pitch and rehearse. Review sample videos and write a script. You don't have to memorize it, but outline your major talking points. Practice what you're going to say. This isn't a long segment. Think of it as a 60-second commercial, a sound bite with some snap to it. It can run longer, but certainly no longer than three minutes.
Report to wardrobe. Dress professionally as if you were going to an in-person interview. These videos are shot from the waist up, so slip into your full costume to set the mood. Style your hair. Ladies: Use a little extra lipstick and makeup as the camera can wash you out. Go easy on the jewelry. Men: Make sure ties are straightened and shirts are pressed. Watch for stray hairs drifting about on your collar.
Next page: What to say and how to say it. »
Check the set. You don't want any background noise, say, a barking dog. Be aware of what's behind you. Some healthy plants, or fresh flowers in a vase are good. There's also something nice about a handsome bookshelf, and it makes you look smart. Watch out for trashy novels. You may opt for a wall hanging that says something about you, say, a framed award you've won. A photo of you actually doing the kind of job you're seeking is another possibility.
Lights, camera, action. If you're using a laptop with built-in camera, set the computer so that the lens is at eye level. You'll want light on the front of your face. If your room has a window, face it, or put a small light on the desk in front of you. Gaze straight into the camera like you're looking into your interviewer's eyes. Talk directly to him or her — your choice of gender.
Your script. Begin by introducing yourself with your full name, say what you do, and briefly describe the type of position you're seeking. Speak clearly, confidently and conversationally: not too fast, but with a punch of energy.
Pay attention to your body language. No hair twirling around your finger, lip biting, squinting or excessive blinking. Don't slouch. Describe your top jobs and accomplishments as a list of concise bullet points. Use strong verbs like "managed," "created," "operated" and "designed." Reel off three of your best attributes. In other words, lay out what would make you a great employee.
It's a wrap. End it with something simple like, "Thank you for considering me for the job." Smile, and keep looking into the camera until you stop recording.
Take two … or three. Plan to run through a few practice taped sessions. Ask your friends or family to critique the video. Save the version you like to your desktop.
Distribute it — selectively. There's no need to splash it up on YouTube. Include a link to your video résumé in both your paper and online résumés. Put it up on your own website, if you have one. Send the link to your networking contacts. Upload it to your LinkedIn profile and any other job boards that can take videos.
Scene Two. Once you're comfortable in front of the camera, you might consider a live video interview. If a prospective employer isn't local, offer to do a Skype interview. Go to Skype.com on your browser to get started. Use the same rules for preparing your set as when you were creating your video résumé.
If you suffer from stage fright, or worry you don't have the technical skills to take this bold move, check out your local libraries, community colleges and other venues where training is offered.
Then powder your nose, and break a leg.
Kerry Hannon, AARP's jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … and Pays the Bills.