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Why Isn’t the Video Resume More Popular?

I am currently in the process of hiring a new assistant. (Yes, Nicole has been here for more than a year, and I vow at the outset to hold no assistant captive for much longer than that.) I posted an ad on Craig’s List and received roughly 200 resumes. Many of them are impressive. From an anthropological standpoint, nearly every single one is interesting, just to see the kind of skills and traits that people use as employment signals. I had no idea, for instance, that Eagle Scout membership would show up on so many young men’s resumes.

But what’s most striking to me is the disparity between what a person looks like on paper and what they’re like in person. We touched on this notion briefly in Freakonomics — the fact that a resume is a pretty unreliable set of clues. But it goes beyond that. When you’re hiring someone, their personal manner, attitude, quickness, humor, curiosity, and a few dozen other traits are really important. And you get almost none of that on a paper resume.

So the question I have is this: Why, in a world of excellent, cheap, and fast technology, hasn’t the video resume become more popular? It’s certainly not unheard-of, and maybe one infamously over-the-top video resume scared some people off. But I am still surprised that we are relying on paper resumes. Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. The cost of making a video resume falls on the applicant, not the employer; but it’s the employer who reaps most of the reward in terms of not wasting time interviewing unlikely candidates. The applicant inherently has more time to waste than the employer.

2. Applicants may want the chance to impress an employer in person, and fear that they’ll be poorly represented in a video.

3. Maybe employers, in their embrace of status quo-ism, think that video resumes are just too weird, or modern, or revealing; or perhaps they’re worried about being charged with discrimination if they respond disproportionately in favor or against a certain type of applicant.

Any thoughts?