Hands On: How to Produce Your Own Video Resume

In our first series of blog posts on this topic, we showed video resume examples from TechSmith interns and offered up some advice on how to get hired from two of our marketing managers.

In this entry, I wanted to talk about the production process when creating your own video resume. In addition, I wanted to share some tips and best practices for shooting, capturing audio, lighting and editing a video resume.

Part 1: Pre-Production

It’s always beneficial to pre-plan best you can before even setting up a light or pushing the record button. What type of industry is my primary audience (how casual or formal, for example)? What points do I want to highlight on my resume? What kind of outfit am I wearing? These are all questions to ask yourself to make the recording process more manageable.

First, try to trim down your script to about a minute or so. We found that the best video resumes are under two minutes, so hit your main points and move on. You will only have a few seconds to really get the viewers’ attention and engage them. Once you have an outline of your script down, practice in front of a mirror or have a friend listen to you. Getting feedback from another set of eyes and ears can only help, especially if you’re not used to speaking into a camera. And don’t think you have to shoot the entire video in one take. It’s perfectly fine to break your video resume into sections, which will also make it easier to shoot. Keep it short and sweet, and don’t forget to smile!

Part 2: Gear Needed

In order to create your own video resume, there are a few essential pieces of gear you will need. The most essential piece of equipment will be your camera. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on a camera, most cameras now can produce a very clean image with enough light.

Here at TechSmith, we use a variety of DSLR cameras that range in price from $600 to $2,500. Even most smartphones now shoot video in a quality high enough for the web, and it works great! If you don’t have access to one of these devices, ask your family or friends if they know of one you can borrow. There are also many camera stores out there where you can rent a camera for a small fee.

Once you have a camera picked out, the next piece of gear I highly recommend is lights. Natural room lighting can work in some cases, but for the best results we suggest finding a room with no windows so you can have complete control over the lighting setup.

For under $20 you can buy a couple 150-watt incandescent clamp lights that work really well. The most important part of your lighting set-up is to make sure the subject’s face is evenly lit. Viewers connect with your eyes! So make sure you take the time to light the subject to ensure there aren’t any distracting shadows.

Rode SmartLav lapel microphoneThe final piece of gear I recommend is a quality microphone or external audio recording device. For the most part, built-in audio recorders on cameras are very limited.

If you’re recording with a smartphone, try a lapel (clip on) mic like the Rode SmartLav. For camcorders or DSLR cameras with a microphone jack, you could use the TechSmith lapel mic. Another great option is to record your audio separately with an external device such as the Zoom H1. None of these options cost a fortune, and having clean audio will go a long way in your final production.

Part 3: Shooting the Video Resume

If you are relatively new to cameras, I suggest putting all of the settings on auto. When you do this, the camera will be adjusting based on the lighting set up you have. If you have windows in the shot or have them in the room, be aware of the sun or clouds changing positions. The camera will be trying to adjust to this, and it may have an effect on the subject you are lighting. It could also change the quality of your video if you have to make cuts or re-shoot parts later.

In regards to shot composition, position yourself on the camera in what is referred to as a medium close-up shot. This is when you are shooting from the waist up, and allow yourself a few inches of head room at the top of the frame. This is important, since this will help you later when editing.

example of medium close up

While shooting, try and use as few hand gestures as possible. Avoid swaying side to side or looking off screen. The last thing you want is to look nervous and uneasy in front of the camera. Take your time, do some deep breathing, and just relax!

Part 4: Editing

Alright, so you have shot your entire video, and now you need to edit it and get it online. Don’t worry, you have a ton of choices for video editors and all types of skill levels. In this short video tutorial, I will walk you through how to get started in Camtasia.

Can’t view the embedded video? Watch it on YouTube.

More about job hunting