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2 Minutes to Glory: Land a Job Using a Video Cover Letter

Miriam Salpeter

You may be surprised the next time you apply for a job to have the opportunity to include a video in your application, or to be invited to send in a video after you apply. Many employers, seeking an efficient and effective way to evaluate applicants, are investigating ways to incorporate video technology into their hiring practices. Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer at iCIMS, a provider of innovative Software-as-a-Service talent acquisition solutions, says that 65 percent of employers are adding video technology to learn about job seekers' personality and professionalism before scheduling on-site or phone interviews. "The adoption of video technology in the hiring process is growing as employers put more emphasis on understanding motivations and previous experience during the interview process,." she notes.

For job seekers, this can be a great opportunity to incorporate a video cover letter as a bonus to their application. If your target employer prompts you to include a video aspect to your application, consider the following tips from Vitale to create a job-winning video cover letter.

1. Do your research. As a job seeker, it's up to you to assess your audience and target all of your materials to appeal to the employer. "Job seekers must find out what the employer wants and how they think," Vitale says, adding that she believes the best way to do this is to research the company and identify what makes it tick. Items to consider: the company's value proposition (what it offers) and its mission statement. Don't forget to review the company's press kits if they're shared online; they can provide a lot of insightful information. Read everything you can about the organization and the people in the department where you'd like to work. Tap LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Google+ to access information other candidates may not bother to find.

2. Expand your channels. If you really want to be creative and targeted, include on-screen text and other types of visual imagery that add more depth and meaning to your video. "Using information uncovered via research, job seekers can tap into a particular need the employer may have and apply this knowledge to create the right style video for the job," Vitale says. "Understanding the company's tone in its communication materials will help job seekers speak in a similar voice when recording video cover letter."

3. Learn from others. You don't need to reinvent the wheel. Get ideas from what other people have done and make them your own. According to Vitale, YouTube can be a great reference tool. "The site has tons of video cover letters to source ideas, from the super high-tech to low-tech as well as from straight-laced professional to very casual and creative." Keep in mind there's no right or wrong way to create your video, but you do want to be sure to create it in the style and content most applicable to the organization where you are applying.

4. Practice makes perfect. Don't plan to create your video in one sitting. You want to be sure to appear confident, natural and relaxed, and that takes practice. "The goal of video technology is to allow the job seeker to clearly and concisely state their value proposition to the employer as it relates to the specific job for which they are applying," Vitale says. "While writing the script, reference the specific items in the job description and knowledge of the company."

5. Be concise. There is a reason why television advertisements are generally short: most people have limited attention spans and hiring executives who are in active need of new hires are extremely busy. "Obviously, job seekers should follow any time requirements indicated by the employer who requests a video, if applicable," Vitale says. "However, if the company doesn't provide any time guidelines, it is best to keep video cover letters under two minutes. This will provide a sufficient amount of time to tell a story in a concise manner without the risk of losing the audience's attention."

If your target employer requests you provide a video as part of your application, take these steps and use all the technology available to you (including your smartphone, desktop mounted webcam or tablet) to help you create a positive first impression. You'll stand out from the other applicants.

Miriam Salpeter is a job search and social media consultant, career coach, author, speaker, resume writer, and owner of Keppie Careers. She is author of Social Networking for Career Success and 100 Conversations for Career Success. Miriam teaches job seekers and entrepreneurs how to incorporate social media tools along with traditional strategies to reach their goals.

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