What Makes a Recruitment Film Great?

gold star with play symbol in the middle

Recruitment can be a daunting task for any company. At large firms in particular, the challenge is to convince recruits that each employee is a valued individual, who will have the opportunity to make an impact and shape both the firm and themselves. This is what the most talented job seekers are looking for… so how can you reach them, demonstrate the unique character of your company, and prove the value of employees’ contributions?

We asked our college intern – a potential recruit – to investigate the recruitment practices of the largest corporations. Turns out that
online video is consistently an exemplary medium: cost-effective, shareable, and engaging, it can reach your ideal recruits much more effectively than boilerplate copy on your website’s recruitment page. And the effectiveness of video shows: it’s no coincidence that job postings on Career Builder with a recruitment video receive 34% more applicants.

After all of his research, we had an in-depth (and very insightful) conversation with Alec, our intern, asking him to reflect on what he found. We wanted to know from his perspective about the vital attributes of recruitment films: where do companies excel and where do they go wrong? Turns out that simply shooting and editing together some arbitrary footage is not enough. Here are Alec’s thoughts – unfiltered and in his own words.

Q: Do companies need recruitment films?

A: As a potential employee, it makes sense that my interviewer wants to know a lot about me: what school I went to, how I did there, where I’ve worked in the past, why I no longer do, where I see myself in one, five, even ten years. It’s only fair for me to know a couple things about you, too, before I apply to get a sense of whether we’d be a good fit. Film gives you the opportunity to show me how I’d fit in, instead of just telling me in a blog post or written testimonial buried on your site. Hearing directly from employees at all levels helps me envision myself at your company, and understand what makes you different and what my colleagues would be like.

Q: How honest should companies be in their recruitment films?

A: A recruitment film is not a commercial. Commercials are one-sided, only showing the benefits of a product or service. Recruitment films on the other hand should cover aspects that might repel some potential recruits.

Q: Wait. Did you say repel? Shouldn’t firms be afraid of turning recruits away?

A: No! You absolutely should present information that could turn some recruits away: if working for you requires specific traits (an aggressive, cut-throat mentality or a friendly, approachable personality, for example), you should let me know that. So if one or more of those things doesn’t seem to fit me, I can then determine that I’m not cut out to work for you – which is great! You shouldn’t want me anyway. On the other hand, recruits who are intrigued by things that turn others away will feel an even stronger desire to be part of your enterprise. Honest, authentic recruitment films can drive away unfit applicants and light a fire under the desirable ones.

Q: So what shouldn’t companies do in their recruitment videos?

A: I’ve seen a lot of videos that say things like, “by 2012, it is predicted that…, ”“2009 saw the biggest increase in…,” “2011 was the year of the…” The problem with these quotes is: we don’t care about them! Why should we? People change. Companies evolve. Technology advances. Practices develop. And today more than ever, these things advance at an increasingly rapid rate, so these changes often happen right before our very eyes.

That being said, there’s nothing worse to me as a recruit than an outdated recruitment video. A YouTube video uploaded six months prior to the recession doesn’t tell me anything about your company in 2014. Creating overtly outdated films is easily avoidable: simply don’t reference a specific year. If you truly want to mention a date in a recruitment video, then you will have to update your videos periodically – certainly an option for some firms, though a pricier one. Insurance companies update their policies, technology companies advance technology, and health care companies discover new solutions: all companies undergo frequent operational changes. Watching an outdated film is an ultimate recruitment deal breaker.

Q: What sort of things in particular do you want to learn about the employer?

A: If I’m seeking a job at a company, I already know the basics. In fact, I know most of the things that the average recruitment film pitches: I know about the thousands of devoted employees, coming from an array of places and races. I know about the cutting-edge technology that you promise to keep providing. What’s often wildly overlooked? The depiction of day-to-day life as an employee: tell me about career mobility, whether the office is more formal or casual, tell me about my colleagues – and go beyond the film script. Am I being trained for professional development or just for the betterment of your company? These questions are dire to me, yet they’re so often overlooked. An authentic depiction of day-to-day life and office culture may turn some prospects away, but the more ideal ones will want to work for you more than ever before.

Q: Specifically at large firms, what’s your biggest concern that you want addressed?

A: While it’s important to know that the company I may be working for truly contributes to society, I’m equally concerned with how much my individual work will contribute to the company. I want to know that I can make an impact. Most recruitment films don’t touch on the potential impact of prospective employees – and this is definitely a mistake.

Google’s recruitment films do an excellent job of this. They showcase the company by taking a look at midlevel employees and their business endeavors. We see an engineer and the impact he was able to have on the display of Google Maps. We see a programmer and the way he single-handedly enhanced Google’s search engine. Google showed me that any employee can make a real impact.

 

Large companies are like gigantic jigsaw puzzles, made up of thousands of pieces, each vital to make it complete. So applying for a job is my way of committing to join this puzzle. But first, I need to feel confident that the final product will look great and also that the other pieces will be sturdy and stick together. I want to know that own individual piece means something. Recruitment with an authentic, up-to-date film can help you engage with job seekers and assemble the perfect puzzle by showing potential recruits like me what sets you apart, where I fit in, and the impact I can make.

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