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Leon Deakin

Thomas Eggar LLP

Employment Associate

Read more about Leon Deakin

Blog: Why you should beware of video CVs


Following attendance at a recent recruitment industry event, it seems that the idea of using video CVs as a recruitment tool may be coming back into ‘vogue’ – certainly if the number of companies extolling the benefits and trying to sell their systems and software to me are anything to go by.

I first encountered video CVs as a concept a few years ago as they were apparently ‘taking off in the US’ and it was anticipated the same would happen over here. However, this did not seem to materialise and things then went fairly quiet, until now.
The idea is simple. Instead of providing a normal CV, a job seeker records some video footage about their skills and experience and this is then made available to a potential employer when seeking candidates for interview.
The benefits for the potential employer include being able to assess demeanour, softer skills and presentation expertise, whilst the candidate has a good means to try and differentiate themselves.
With the rise of social media this process is going to be easier and more accessible than ever, which indeed may be why it has reared its head again. So, surely a ‘win win’ situation for both employers and candidates? Actually, no as far as I am concerned!
Firstly, are video CVs actually that practical? Unless you are the producers of Big Brother, who has the time and/or the motivation to sit through hours of applicant footage when most recruiters generally flick through several CVs in a few minutes?
In addition, unless there is a standard format adopted (which perhaps defeats the ability to differentiate), it is going to be quite hard to actually compare applicants fairly and in a meaningful way.
Secondly, and more importantly as far as those of us working in the HR sphere are concerned, video CVs just don’t sit that neatly with discrimination legislation.
Potential discrimination claims
In particular, there is certain information that you would generally not ask for in an application form (such as age, race, religious belief and sexual orientation etc) which could all be very apparent from a video clip.
Potential employers are then tainted with knowledge which, if an individual is not successful in securing employment, could enable the individual to bring a claim.
In addition, even if this sort of information is not actually obvious to the potential employer, the candidate may still believe that it is and that belief alone may also still be enough for them to draw an inference of discrimination and lodge a claim.
Of course, if a claim does arise, so long as the potential employer has good non-discriminatory reasons for not choosing a candidate, they will be able to defend any such claim. But who wants to go to that trouble and cost?
As a result, you would be ill-advised to accept a video CV directly. Of course, many of the companies working on behalf of public sector bodies providing video CV services act as an intermediary third party and tell potential employers that candidates uploading videos will not know who has viewed their footage. 
However, this is clearly something you would want to nail down tightly before engaging with such a third party. In addition, how cast iron such a guarantee is remains unclear.
In the IT world everything is traceable and although it is arguable that Data Protection legislation does not apply to video footage, this is an untested point – and a wily individual prepared to challenge this, may well be able to uncover who has viewed their footage.
So the message is simple. While video CVs may sound cool and funky, beware of using them.

Leon Deakin is an employment associate at Thomas Eggar LLP.

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Leon Deakin

Employment Associate

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