Is Video The New Cover Letter?
The national jobless rate is continuing to hang around 8 percent, essentially unchanged from last month. With nearly 13 million Americans out of work, HR departments are being flooded with cover letters, most of which are positively ignored.
Many professionals debate the essentialness of the cover letter. Some companies, JPMorgan for example, even mock poorly written or over-the-top cover letters by publishing them on the web. I, however, don’t believe the debate is to send a cover letter or to refrain. (Even Leonardo da Vinci sent a cover letter!) I believe the real question is, “Should I send a written cover letter…or a video?”
In 2012, video reigns supreme. YouTube exceeds two billion views per day, and users upload 24 hours of video every minute. And newspapers dismissed some 15,000 print journalists since 2008 while increasing the amount of multimedia aspects on their websites.
Noticing the trending shift from print to video, some job seekers dug the old video camera from the closet and hit record.
The Benefits Of Video Over Print
There are a few obvious benefits to submitting a video in lieu of a traditional cover letter. Video skips the stack of other cover letters entirely, is more difficult to misplace, and is more interesting for HR to watch.
There are other less obvious benefits to a video cover letter, too:
- It skips a step in the hiring process. Most companies will not hire a candidate without first interviewing him or her. A video cover letter is much like the first few minutes of a face-to-face interview. It allows HR to see if the candidate is professional, articulate, and passionate.
- It allows you to provide more information. The average speaker engaged in a friendly conversation speaks at a rate of approximately 100-150 words per minute. More importantly, a video usually keeps a person’s attention longer than a written document. (Think how often movie box office sales trump book sales.) A two-minute video may allow you to include more information and keep attention of HR longer than a one-page written cover letter.
- It may answer a company’s challenge. In one of my favorite video cover letters, a creative professional answered a company’s challenge to nix the boring cover letter and do something interesting to show of his personality. The result was a stop-motion video.
- It showcases additional skills. Oftentimes companies will ask potential employees to explain what sets them apart from other candidates. A video cover letter shows them you have multimedia skills that may benefit the company in the future.
Will Video Replace Print Cover Letters?
While I advocate video cover letters, I must admit that I don’t believe they’ll replace written cover letters entirely. (At least not in the immediate future.)
Video cover letters aren’t ideal for some professions. Jobs that don’t require a high level of verbal skills, for example, are better off with a written cover letter. Recruiters in those fields are likely more interested in ability than prose.
However, professionals in communications or creative fields can highly benefit from video cover letters. A video cover letter may be that one thing that sets you apart from the millions of other Americans searching for jobs.
Have you ever used a video cover letter? How did the company respond? Or, if you are an employer, what would you think about a candidate using a video cover letter when applying to your open position?