If a video r�sum� comes across your computer, hit the delete button.
That’s the advice labor and employment attorneys are giving employers and human resources professionals about video r�sum�s, the latest job-searching trend that has employers nationwide both intrigued � and scratching their heads.
An avalanche of video r�sum�s are expected to hit employers this year as numerous online job listers, including Jobster, CareerBuilder, HireVue and Vault, are preparing to launch sites featuring video r�sum�s. CareerBuilder, the largest of the bunch, will launch its video r�sum� service shortly.
But lawyers are warning employers that video r�sum�s can open a slew of discrimination claims.
“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 r�sum�s at a seminar. “My advice to my clients who have asked me about video r�sum�s � and I have had a lot of clients ask lately � is do not accept, do not review video r�sum�s.”
Brown’s main concern with video r�sum�s is that they reveal information about a person’s race, sex, disability, age � all details that could wind up in a discrimination lawsuit. He believes that employers should stick to the old-fashioned paper r�sum�s and avoid the potential legal hassles of video r�sum�s, which he called “an outgrowth of the reality television craze.”
“The fact is that employers are not casting for a game show, employers are looking for the most qualified applicant,” said Brown. “This is one of those instances where a little bit of unnecessary knowledge is dangerous.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission also has expressed similar concerns, noting that video r�sum�s 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.
“The EEOC is not opposed to employers or applicants using video r�sum�s nor is such use against the law,” said EEOC attorney Paula Bruner. But, she added, “The EEOC is concerned about how video r�sum�s could contribute to hiring discrimination.”
Recent studies show that many employers are open to the concept of video r�sum�s. According to the 2007 Video Resume Survey by career publisher Vault Inc., 89% of employers revealed that they would watch a video r�sum� if it were submitted to them. The survey also found that only 17% have actually viewed a video r�sum�.
In a 2006 CareerBuilder survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, 60% of more than 2,200 hiring managers and human resources professionals expressed some interest in viewing video r�sum�s of potential candidates.
Labor and employment attorney Darlene Smith can’t fathom why employers � knowing the risks of video r�sum�s � 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?”
If employers do, however, choose to use video r�sum�s, Smith said some steps can be taken to minimize exposure, including advice that employers don’t rely entirely on the video r�sum� and use it only as backup to the paper r�sum�.
Cheryl Behymer, a partner at Atlanta’s Fisher & Phillips, is advising employers to return video r�sum�s with a request for a traditional r�sum�. “Just let them know, ‘We don’t use video,’ ” said Behymer, who strongly advises against opening up video r�sum�s. “ 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.’ “
But not everyone is down on video r�sum�s. “Video r�sum�s allow students to make a more personal and professional approach to employers,” said Renee Beaupre White, director of career services at Green Mountain College in Poultney, Vt. “And they leave employers with a better sense of if, or how, they might fit in with the company.”
Jennifer Sullivan, a spokeswoman for CareerBuilder, also defended video r�sum�s, saying they allow job applicants to “literally bring their skills and experience to life.”
“Not only can they convey their qualifications to employers, they can also showcase their personality and why they would be a good cultural fit for the organization,” Sullivan said.
With regard to concerns that video r�sum�s can trigger lawsuits, Sullivan said: “Video r�sum�s do not violate EEOC compliance. It is the responsibility of the hiring party to not discriminate at any point during the hiring process.”