Lights, Camera, Hire Me!

I grew up playing "Space Invaders" and watching MTV, rather than airing my dirty laundry on LiveJournal and making YouTube videos about my undying devotion to Justin Timberlake. As far as I was concerned, Web videos were for Hollywood hopefuls and people born after 1980, not privacy-happy old farts like me. So, when a friend in her 30s told me she was thinking of slapping a video resume of herself on the Web to land a new job, my first question was, "When did I miss the part where you decided to become a TV spokesmodel?"

But my friend wasn't looking to become the next Lara Spencer or Brooke Burke. She simply wanted a job in sales.

As the 2007 predictions of media outlets like Time, Newsweek and the New York Times would have us believe, my video-savvy pal is riding the next big job-hunting wave.

Looking for career advice? Click here to send Michelle your questions and they might end up as a topic for her next column.

After all, job search sites like CareerBuilder.com and Vault.com now accept video resumes and provide helpful tips for creating one ("Don't ramble!" "Don't just recite your written resume!" "Don't forget to comb your hair!"). And since 2006, niche sites for video resume posters -- from HireMeNow.com, which caters to temps and contract workers, to ChosenList.com, which prides itself on good, clean, Christian-leaning classifieds -- have sprung up like weeds.

Only thing is, job seekers aren't rushing out in droves to shoot their video resumes or letters of introduction -- mainly because most employers have yet to warm up to the idea.

But You Looked So Good on Paper

Just last week, a new survey from staffing agency Robert Half International revealed that only 24 percent of the nation's 1,000 largest companies said they accept video resumes from job seekers.

Aside from not having the time to sit through a two-minute video (not when you can scan a traditional resume in five seconds flat, or better yet, run a keyword search), employers worry that accepting video resumes could open them up to discrimination lawsuits.

"The legal risks are considerable," said attorney Jonathan Segal, co-chair of the employment group at law firm WolfBlock in Philadelphia. "If you know someone is older from the video and you don't hire them, they could say, 'It's because you know I'm older.'"

Ditto if an applicant thinks their sex, race, nationality, religion or disability status cost them the job.

But that's not the only problem, says staffing consultant Kristen Fife, who recruits technical workers in the greater Seattle area.

"There have been a lot of studies in the last few years about how attractive people get more jobs and make more money," Fife said. (Really. Here's a "20/20" story on the topic.)

"Unless a candidate is in an industry where looks really matter -- modeling, acting, et cetera," Fife continued, "any sort of physical representation at the beginning of the process is a bad idea."

Segal, who recognizes that employers are looking to hire "a personality" rather than "a brain in a jar," suggests applicants accompany any video they send of themselves with a traditional resume and cover letter.

For employers, Segal recommends not pressing Play right away; instead, screening candidates on paper first. Then, once the first round of cuts have been made, it's fine to grab the popcorn and fire up those applicant videos.

The "True Colors" Quotient

That's what BJ Cook is doing.

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