In an online world where YouTube is king of the video realm there are still many pretenders to the crown. There are in fact so many video hosting sites and aggregators of the web video that it was only a matter of time before the recruiting departments of the world’s corporations jumped both feet first on to the bandwagon to give us an insight into why they are the right choice for candidates. Like websites in the early 90’s there is a odd emotion of curiosity mixed with panic around the phenomenon. Online recruitment video is the new must have and when used well can only enhance the online brand of the company they represent. Of course there is a flip side to this and some companies seem dead set on trying to destroy their credibility at 24 frames a second and all in glorious technicolour.

So here are some examples, followed by my own lop-sided bias as to what I think works or doesn’t work about them.

If you have to say something is “cool” it isn’t. If you have to say something is “fun” it isn’t. This is akin to finding your parents are using Facebook or watching an Uncle dance at a wedding.

OK so “Cool” shouldn’t be stated explicitly. What about “Happy”? What do people do when they’re happy?

Sometimes when I watch old episodes of “Friends” I think they look a bit dated. The 90’s were a long time ago and this video from 2001 (BC?) looks a little less than fresh… It might also be a symptom of my British cynicism that means I balk at the almost religious fervour displayed by the “choir”.

It’s easy to get this very very wrong. However, it’s just as easy to not fail completely but perhaps to dilute your message and to attempt to cover all bases thus alienating a good number of your target audience.

Modern net savvy consumers are aware of the mediated reality in which they operate. The self-referential irreverent style of post-modernity has become the norm for those companies trying to illicit a response from Generation Y. Flying in the face of this is “Corporate Branding 101” or iStockphoto-ism. This is where a large corporate either buys photos to use in it’s branding OR worse still commissions photos that end up looking like they’ve trawled a Google image search. I like this next video, but it does feel a bit “iStock” and thus the message is commuted to “false” in my mind at least.

Not that I’m using this as a reason to bash Microsoft per se but have you seen the Windows 7 release party video? This is so monstrously bad that at first I thought it was a parody. “Someone MUST be attempting irony, right? This is a joke? Right?”. A video so STUNNINGLY bad that Charlie Brooker was forced to coin the term “shitasmic” to describe it.

Back in the world of recruitment videos if you’re trying to attract people the ultimate goal of your video should be the projection of company culture. Video, more than anything else in the marketer’s remit has the potential to communicate the underlying values and attitudes towards employees without explicitly stating them. Why is this important? Why is it no longer OK to have a talking head on screen saying “This company I work for is cool”? For me the answer is simple…it’s not ok because if you work for the company, they’re paying your mortgage/rent you would say that! A “Great Place to Work” is inferred. Prospective candidates must feel aligned to the values or to those a video represents, in a recruiting campaign this is why we tell employee’s back stories or even introduce them in the first place. It’s also why so many corporate videos feature employees/actors of different ethnicities/genders etc in effect over proving their all encompassing nature, often despite the fact that we’re all pretty wise to this now.

So what does work in a recruiting video? For me it depends on who you’re trying to attract. There isn’t a coverall message for candidates – there can however be an coverall message of a company’s culture. A video can illustrate values and show the participants in that culture. True explicit mess ageing should be confined to “we are hiring” rather than the elitist “We are great…maybe you’re good enough to join us” which risks the alienation of the prospective employee.

This video from Connected Ventures (the people behind CollegeHumour and BustedTees) is a great example, people having fun (it looks genuine!) Certainly above all it communicates culture of a working environment, it’s a place where your colleagues are likely to get together and dance and sing! Whilst it may alienate some job seekers its a statement aimed squarely at the section of society they want to recruit.


Lip Dub – Flagpole Sitta by Harvey Danger from amandalynferri on Vimeo.

While this is all opinion and just my opinion there is one guiding factor… looking again at all these videos there is one clear deciding factor. Those that seem aware of their own culture and their audience have a couple million more views. As candidate sourcing is often about numbers of the right audience applying getting your message out to a few million more potential employees has to be something worth striving for.

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  1. Александр
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    Hi mate, this is Alex from Bloomberg. Just got en e-mail about your resigning. Hopefully for the better ;-). Just curious, what’s that new place? if of course it’s not top secret. 😉 The IT world is very narrow and sometimes you never know where you can meet people again.

    If you are still in IT recruting I’d prefer keeping you in mind just in case.

    Anyway, good luck.

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