Why so many careers videos are dull as dishwater

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Wiser teach marketeers how to excel in making strong recruitment videos.

You know exactly the kind of video I’m talking about. The soundtrack straddles a line between elevator music and easy listening Dad Rock. The speakers all talk directly to the camera, using words like ‘synergy’, ‘dynamic’ and ‘horizontal progression’ – preferably while strolling faux-casually through the office. The cutaways consists of people nodding on the phone and laughing over an especially riveting pie chart. It’s the stock photography of videos: the classic recruitment video.

This video is, in my humble opinion, bad. Why? Let me break it down for you with my Bad Video Checklist:

  • Have I been unable to learn anything new or unique about this company?
  • Did the dialogue feel forced or scripted?
  • Did the speakers opt for industry buzzwords over natural conversational language?
  • Was the focus of the video the company’s mission instead of why someone should come and work there?
  • Did the whole thing just feel a bit, for lack of a better word, soulless?

If you answered yes to the majority of the above questions then I’m afraid, my friend, you’ve got a Bad Video on your hands. But before we fix it, we have to understand why video is important for your employer brand.

As activist Marian Wright Edelman once said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Video is a gateway into your company that a description on a website just can’t match – it allows potential employees to actually visualise themselves in your office, rather than just read about it.

This is particularly important if you’re in an industry that has any sort of PR problem. If your applicant pool is lacking in diversity, your first port-of-call should be the image that your company projects online, particularly in terms of its photography and film content.

Bad to good

A good video piques the interest of the potential employee and gives them a sense of what it is to work at your company, whether in a literal, day-to-day sense or a broader, value-driven sense. It shows them, rather than tells them, exactly who you’re looking for. It also – perhaps a little cynically – provides that sweet, sweet shareable content for social media.

Right, so, what does a good video look like then? ‘Good’ can manifest itself in a whole host of guises, but the uniting factor is a thorough research and ideation phase. Whether it’s a simple interviews-and-cutaways number or a higher concept piece, the driving themes behind the video should be the result of interviews conducted with stakeholders throughout the business to find out what actually makes your company unique and interesting. I’m not talking about the ping pong table or the free fruit. I’m talking about the culture, the community and the opportunities available.

Once you have a handle on that, you’re ready to get started on planning. If you’re choosing the talking heads route, there are a few essential points to consider: firstly, and I cannot stress this enough, do not script the interview content. You may have the best actors in the world on your hands, all of whom can carry a script off as if speaking totally spontaneously, but chances are you don’t.

Good to go

The difference between scripted and unscripted interview content is stark, and the latter adds such a crucial layer of warmth and authenticity to a video. If you feel the need to plant key phrases, then train your interviewees on the relevant messaging beforehand and allow them to land on it naturally in their answers. It will be worth it, I promise you.

Secondly, it’s important to put the same value on a careers video that you would on a corporate video. A shoddily-made careers video shows potential employees that you don’t care about your image as an employer, and a generic one will simply attract the generic people. Make sure that whoever is making this video for you, whether agency or in-house, has the right knowledge, skills and brief to make something that you’ll feel proud to post on your LinkedIn profile.

After all this talk of avoiding generic, the last point to consider is about ensuring that you don’t stray to the other end of the spectrum – sometimes in the quest to look unique, businesses end up with a cringe-inducing montage of people clinking craft beers, set to a tropical house soundtrack that may as well be produced by Kygo. Don’t try to force the cool factor, just focus on what makes your company a great place to work.

If you’re looking to get a little adventurous, then why not try a scripted concept film, such as Absolut’s The Vodka With Nothing To Hide (created by BBH). A concept film can spark much more excitement and interest than an interview-style video, but it’s also much harder to execute, so make sure you have the best possible team on-hand to pull it off. This is where the research and development stage truly becomes vital, as a concept can’t just be plucked out of mid-air. It should instead be a smart, well-considered representation of the values and behaviours you seek to promote in your organisation.

In summary, I present to you my good video checklist:

  • Does the content feel interesting and unique to this company?
  • Do the speakers seem natural and relaxed?
  • Does the soundtrack and videography style suit the tone conveyed by the speakers?
  • After watching this video, could you tell someone exactly why they should work at this company?
  • If it’s a concept video, does it feel well thought-out and executed?

Now get out there and become the next Martin Scor-careers-e.

Isobel Moulder, production manager at Wiser.

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