Recently I saw a job advertisement for a role that asked for a different kind of application. Instead of the usual covering letter, download application form, or an automated online process – what was asked for, was a video application that answered two questions: What would you like to bring to this role? And, where do you see our organisation in three years time?
A video application is what you might get asked for entering in a competition or challenge event. But video job applications, in my sector anyway, are not common. And this is what caught my eye.
However, putting a video application together isn’t as straightforward as you might think. The more I thought through the process, imaging what the organisation might really be looking for, and how to strike the balance of getting the right message across with enough lead to strike an interview, the trickier it seemed.
Unless you’ve produced videos for YouTube or another platform, it’s not until you start thinking through all the components that make an effective video, that you can appreciate the work that’s involved.
For starters, writing and getting the script right. This was going to be a short and memorable video so there was no need for big extensive paragraphs. Sounds easy right? But what do you actually say and what is needed that is not being asked in the job description? What is the right tone? What difference do I need to bring in order to get the interview?
Like a rough sketch, a picture of what I thought would work was starting to develop and so with this, I got started.
Beginning with the script the first challenge was to get my head into writing like a storyteller and not sounding like a clinical CV. This was no replication on previous applications. This is where spark and drive aren’t spoken, but rather something you perform and show.
Once I had the script down, I knew I needed to know it inside out and back to front. Going through it over and over I began to hear what was clear and what needed refining. I thought of the possible transitions and what should be cut. Finding what was missing, confusing or repetitive.
After recording myself talking in front of my phone, I decided it was time to get things going. Setting up the scene in a quiet room with the best natural light, I set my phone up and began recording.
This processes of recording and re-recording the script in sections took time. A lot of time. Longer than I thought it would. It took time because I wanted it to be seamless and natural, but also clear. The only mic I had was on my LG phone, this wasn’t great quality making it even harder. I also needed music to work well with the lack of audio volume and depth I was getting. However, this is where resilience pushes in.
I say this because, after I had completed the whole process and then exporting the video to the desktop, after playing it through again, I hated it. Even though I’d edited, played and checked it through in production, after I had exported the finished piece it just didn’t work.
Poor sound, wrong music, confusing introduction, disjointed narrative, distracting presentation techniques and transitions that just didn’t work.
So after three days of work, I had nothing to show. Feeling frustrated was a complete understatement.
The next week rolled round, and I thought, screw it. I’m going to try this thing again.
Deciding on a timeframe of one full day, I pushed myself to get the recordings, new music sorted and production as closely finished as possible.
With more confidence and self-critique from the previous week’s work, I found a different feel for the introduction and began rewriting the whole script. This helped me refine what it was I wanted to convey in the most interesting way, to a three-minute video.
I then started the whole record-stop-playback-delete-record-stop-play-etc processes again. Breaking it down into sections, I managed to memorise the script in blocks. This helped in coming across clearer and natural.
Even though I’ve made videos for fundraising campaigns in the past, I wanted to improve my skills and what I understood about the process. And in this case, get an interview.
This may be a small project to some, but for me it took quite a bit to get right.
Learning new skills and widening your experience is not the arrival point, rather it’s an appetite to keep pushing yourself to grow and stretch.
It’s more than pressing record on your phone.