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Video résumés: Set a policy and plan for the legal risks

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in Hiring,HR Management,Human Resources

It’s not every day that you’ll receive a video résumé—especially one like Yale student Aleksey Vayner famously sent to big New York financial services firms showing him pumping iron, ballroom dancing and boasting about his smarts.

But you’ll likely start receiving video résumés soon enough. Applicants can create videos and post them on a server for less than $100. They’ll then send you the link, along with their paper résumé.

Michael Patrino, president of SwapJobs.com, predicts the process is so simple that video résumés will be common in five years.

Advice: Don’t wait to set some guidelines. It’s best to prepare a policy now and plan ahead for the potential legal risks created by this trend. Specifically:

  • Set a policy. Establish some rules on whether you’ll accept video résumés. Young, tech-savvy applicants may feel that a short film can showcase their talents better than a written rundown, especially if they have little job experience.
  • Announce that policy. Use your Web site to let potential applicants know whether you accept video résumés.

If you do, post some guidelines about length and content. State what you want to see in the video. Post a few questions that you would like candidates to answer, and state whether a paper résumé is required with it. (One organization created a sample video résumé using staff members, and posted it as an example.)

  • Head off the legal pitfalls. Video résumés can showcase a candidate’s verbal skills, poise, confidence, personality and professionalism. But they also reveal gender, race and disabilities, which should never factor into your decision to hire.

While it’s not illegal for a hiring manager to know an applicant’s race or gender, the EEOC wrote in a 2004 advisory letter that such knowledge does increase the employer’s risk of discrimination or the appearance of discrimination.

The agency’s advice: Train hiring officials and HR staff about how to respond appropriately when gender, race or ethnicity are disclosed during recruitment. In all cases, focus on the person’s qualifications for the job, not on the applicant’s appearance.  

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