Video resumes? No thanks

by Walter Olson on July 16, 2007

Video resumes have been achieving a certain popularity lately among some job seekers, even beyond fields such as graphics and Web work where skill in video editing and presentation itself counts as a job qualification. Novices are finding it easier to get into the act as online job bazaars such as Jobster, CareerBuilder and Vault begin to offer ways of creating and disseminating video resumes.

Many labor and employment attorneys, however, are warning employers that video resumes open up too many liability issues to be comfortably accepted:

“Just don’t even deal with them,” said Dennis Brown, an attorney in the San Jose, Calif., office of Littler Mendelson whose firm recently advised employers about the dangers of video resumés in a seminar. “My advice to my clients who have asked me about video resumes — and I have had a lot of clients ask lately — is do not accept, do not review video resumes.”

Brown’s main concern with video resumes is that they reveal information about a person’s race, sex, disability, age — all details that could wind up in a discrimination lawsuit…. “This is one of those instances where a little bit of unnecessary knowledge is dangerous.” …

Labor and employment attorney Darlene Smith can’t fathom why employers — knowing the risks of video resumes — would willingly open themselves up to lawsuits. “Actually, I’m dead set against it, to be honest,” said Smith of the Washington office of Boston’s Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. “You definitely, definitely increase your exposure…so why even put yourself in a position to be sued?”

And similarly from Cheryl Behymer of Fisher & Phillips in Atlanta: “You’re opening yourself up to a potential that someone could claim, ‘Well, the reason I didn’t get hired is because you could see my gray hair and you could see that I’m over 40.’”

As for the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it may come as a relief to learn from an EEOC staff attorney that the agency does not consider video resumes a legal violation in themselves. However, it’s “concerned” that they “could contribute to hiring discrimination”, says the attorney. Other EEOC “concerns”, per the NLJ’s Tresa Baldas: “video resumes could also lead to the exclusion of people who are not tech-savvy, or minority applicants who may not have access to broadband-equipped computers or video cameras.” (“Employers told to stay away from video resumes”, National Law Journal, Jun. 4, not online).

{ 6 comments }

1 John Rohan 07.16.07 at 3:40 am

This flat-out doesn’t make any sense. Unless the job is overseas or in some very remote location, 99.9% of the time the resume doesn’t get you the job. It only gets you the interview. You still have to show up for your interview, and then all the same information (race, sex, etc) is known.

But I wouldn’t recommend video resumes for another reason; You could be unnecessarily antagonizing your prospective employer. Who wants to sit and watch these things when they can scan a resume and size up a person in less than a minute?

2 Adub 07.16.07 at 9:20 am

It makes perfect sense. As it currently stands, you are only open to discrimination claims from those you interview and do not hire. If a company accepts video resumes, it will be open to such claims from everyone they receive a resume from.

3 Thufir 07.16.07 at 9:51 am

“Brown’s main concern with video resumes is that they reveal information about a person’s race, sex, disability, age . . . .”

Except for disability, how is this information not already on the table with a traditional resume?

I can’t imagine viewing a video resume exept to ridicule it, and would never produce one for that same reason (The applicants are asking for what they get in that regard). But as an additional liailibty threat? If you’re going to get sued, you’re going to get sued. Video resumes don’t make a suit (or recovery) more likely.

4 Tomato 07.16.07 at 10:49 am

Does this not sound absurd: “video resumes could also lead to the exclusion of people who are not tech-savvy, or minority applicants who may not have access to broadband-equipped computers or video cameras.”?

So it’s OK not to hire someone unfamiliar with computers but not OK to deduce from the lack of a video resume that they are unfamiliar with computers?

Huh??

5 Anonymous Attorney 07.16.07 at 11:30 am

I have the solution. Require all video applicants to wear a burkha.

6 McNair 07.17.07 at 8:17 am

What if the video resume was simply an attachment to the resume itself and not a replacement for it.

I agree with Adub. If you’re going to get sued, then you’re going to get sued.

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