The YouTube Job Hunt

Posted by: Jena McGregor on May 23, 2007

It had an inauspicious start—this Yale student was widely ridiculed—but the video resume trend is gaining steam. For just a sampling, check out Allen, Chrissy, and Greg.
My colleague Douglas McMillan wrote about the concept recently here. And CareerBuilder, the online job search site Microsoft recently invested in, even announced in mid-April that it plans to launch a new video resume service.

Perhaps it’s a way for job seekers to stand out from the crowd. But for managers, it’s a more complex issue. Recently, I chatted with Cheryl Behymer, a partner at national labor and employment law firm Fisher & Phillips about this trend. Her advice? Don’t hit play. “You’re seeing a physical representation of the candidate, you’re seeing what their race is, their national origin, their age, and whether they’re attractive or not,” says Behymer. “By seeing it that potential applicant might say the reason you didn’t hire me is because you can tell I’m a minority.”

Behymer advises first that companies don’t solicit video resumes. If a candidate sends one in anyways, it should be ignored and returned, with the request that a traditional resume be sent instead. Finally, she advises, managers should be trained so that there’s a buffer between the person who initially screens the resume and the person actually doing the hiring.

What do you think? Is this an overly cautious lawyer? Or are there real liabilities that come with the YouTube-ization of the job search?

Reader Comments

RC

May 24, 2007 1:35 PM

I don't understand Cheryl Behymer's logic. The prospective employer is eventually going to see the job candidate one way or another. What difference does it make whether it happens on YouTube or in-person? If the employer is racist, what makes Ms. Behymer think they wouldn't refuse to hire the minority candidate after the in-person interview anyway?

Douglas MacMillan

May 24, 2007 5:37 PM

Discrimination can happen at any stage of the hiring process, yes, but if video resumes ever became standard many more job candidates could be illegaly stereotyped in a much more streamlined fashion. You can scan through many hundreds of videos and quickly determine race in the amount of time you could conduct just a few interviews.

HR pros have expressed this concern. Vault’s survey on this topic found that out of hiring managers who think video resumes are not useful, 15% said they “make their legal departments nervous.”

You can see that survey here: http://www.vault.com/video-resume/

POC

May 24, 2007 6:06 PM

Read this piece on systemic employment discrimination: http://www.businessweek.com/careers/content/mar2007/ca20070327_236903.htm. Here is an excerpt that helps explain Behymer's logic, I think:

"As defined by the EEOC and the OFCCP, disparate adverse impact occurs when an employer uses an employment practice that has an unjustified adverse impact on members of a protected class (e.g., race, gender, or ethnicity)."

Michael Agee

August 15, 2007 5:50 PM

Cheryl Behymer is ridiculous. She is just trying to build justification for legal fees. Any first year law student can tell you that the burden is on the plaintiff to show that there was some sort of discrimination.

I looked at resumes that only had video resumes attached, so now I'm discriminating against minorities? Thats almost a joke... Case law clearly holds, and Ms. Behymer knows this, that employers may make employment choices about candidates based on apperence, dress, and the manner in which they communicate, ff those elements are essential to the performance of the job. If someone is a slob and has a hard time communicating, why should I waste my time talking to them, regardless of race.

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