Telling stories through video is an enabler, not a blocker to your hiring process


Watching a brand tell a story through video is an everyday occurrence for us all; whether it’s John Lewis at Christmas, OREO’s #ProudParent advert sharing the company values of love and acceptance or Google’s ‘Get back what you love’ advert filling viewers with triumphant hope during the pandemic of returning to the things that we cherish most.

Video storytelling, what is it?

Video storytelling is a marketing tactic, a successful one, that enables a story to be told about a product, company or brand. Using a relatable narrative-based storyline viewers are led through a visual journey that pulls our heartstrings, triggers an emotive response and concludes with an ending as powerful as your favourite Disney movie as a child.

All of these factors unite through cinematic camera angles perfectly choreographed to beautiful melancholy turning to triumphant music with characters that are relatable and/or accessible. We then form an unbreakable bond with them for the few minutes that the advert is running. Here’s the important part; we then forever link that brand to the emotive response triggered by the ad, and that is the power of video storytelling as a sales tool.

When focus is shifted from the brand selling, onto the story that is being told the effect is much more powerful than a sales pitch and when done right, can stay with us forever creating brand loyalty. Pretty powerful? I think so too. Brands have found a powerful way to enter our lives in a personable way through storytelling. Now, how can we relate this to recruitment?

Here’s an example of a brand connecting with us through humour in their recruitment. July of 2020 Apple released their tongue-in-cheek video about life as an apple employee at the start of the pandemic, to date it has had 33,702,167 views.

Empowering candidates to showcase themselves

Traditional recruitment practices are centred around written job adverts and candidate CVs, where an agency or in-house recruiter would have the task of sifting through sometimes hundreds of resumes sent with a hopeful desire of being the candidate that catches the recruiter’s eye, then receiving that all important call for an interview. Having been on the receiving end of hundreds of CVs from hopeful candidates as a hiring manager, where I am looking for a good fit not just for a role, but for the team and wider company fit, having a candidate tell their story through video would have been, and now is, an extremely welcomed dream come true.

A modern solution, to a tale as old as time

Around the 4th century B.C. the Roman army had more vacancies than candidates and a predominant portion of available workers were lacking the skills and experience for the roles, and unfortunately too poorly qualified for the jobs. As we can all imagine, staffing an army at that time was not an easy feat, nor finding skilled and qualified candidates in general.

The Romans needed a reliable pool of qualified soldiers and to fill other critical roles such as engineers for planning, overseeing builds and R&D, doctors to keep everyone in good health and to treat the injured and ill, and carpenters to facilitate the build of the engineer’s plans.

In walks recruitment, for the first time (ever)…

Julius Caesar at this time offered a referral payment of 300 Sestertii to Roman soldiers who successfully brought in new members. A payment upon the death of a new recruit was also paid out if the new recruit passed in the first 3 months of employment. It is believed that the new recruit referral was the first employee referral scheme on record.

It’s safe to say a lot has changed since then. Let’s take a quick look at the 20th and 21st centuries. Dating back to the 1950’s through to the 1980’s recruitment all happened through local newspapers, the national newspapers and the specialist job supplements and face to face interviews. In the 1990’s the world wide web joined the party, and the first online job ads were launched. Did you know Amazon’s Jeff Bezos launched their first online job ad in 1994 and a week later started selling books online (but that is another story entirely).

Amazon job placement an image showing Amazon’s first-ever job ad from 1994 seeking Unix developers

At the start of the 21st century, lovingly referred to as the aughts, job boards have now become the preferred place to post job ads and receive candidate applications and CVs. Social media has also became part of the recruitment process for many according to The Open University (2019) with 79% of job seekers saying they are likely to use social media in their job search and this increases to 86% for younger job seekers.

Let’s talk recruiting now, circa 2022…

Recruitment has now evolved to video-first where a wall of candidates can now replace the stack of CV’s waiting to be viewed in a recruiters, or hiring manager’s inbox. If you want to know more about video-first recruitment, I recommend this article written by an experienced recruiter turned rec-tech founder, Recruiting and hiring in the new video-first world.

VizCareer Talent Wall

What replacing a stack of CVs looks like with VizCareer’s Talent Wall

Now that organisations and candidates alike are turning to video as part of the hiring and application process let’s take a look at what’s involved in creating and telling a compelling story.

The framework for creating a video story

When creating a video story, start with building out the foundation by deciding who the story is for, the point in creating it, who will tell the story and where it will then be accessed. Once these elements are created you will have the framework for the story you are about to create.

Characters: every story needs people within it to take the viewer on the journey

Audience: who will watch the video story

Setting: the backdrop for the characters to engage the audience from

Desired impact: what feelings do you want the viewer to feel and what actions do you want them to take

Plot: the point to the story that will be told

Placement: where the video will be hosted and viewed Advertising a role? Here’s how to create your story framework

Characters: Your company is the hero of the story and the star which is made up of everyone who works there. Talk about the people and how they make the company unique and successful. When was the company founded and what are the individual teams like, especially the team the candidate would work in.

Setting: Where will the video be filmed and how does that impact and shape the narrative for the viewer? Think about the effect of filming outdoors or in an office environment and what this would convey to the viewer.

Plot: This is your story’s structure. It should typically comprise of your introduction, a conflict/or hurdle and the resolution. Think about how the organisation has taken on challenges to deliver wider scale projects. This is a great opportunity to share Inclusion and Diversity initiatives and social responsibility projects.

Audience: Prospective applicants are your target audience, to set yourself apart from the competition talk about the company culture, what is the social aspect like, what are the growth aspirations of the organisation.

Desired Impact: The desired engagement you want to drive is engaging with the viewer to apply to the role, or at the very least, pass the story onto someone they know they think would be right for the role. Think about the company’s USPs and why ‘you’? Why should the applicant come on board?

Placement: This is where your video will be hosted and relates to where your video job ad would be for maximum impact. You’ll want to think about placement on job boards like s1jobs in the UK, your company and personal social channels linke LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and your company careers page.

Recruitment video for the New Zealand police force

Applying for a role? Here’s how to create your story framework

Characters: You’re the star of your recruitment story and your past experiences with co-workers will aid in offering their assistance as your supporting characters. Plan how you want to share the projects you have previously delivered, what part you ‘played’ and how you worked with your team to make it happen.

Setting: This is just as important for you, the applicant, as the hiring company. Spend time planning where you film and what you want to convey to your prospective employer. Is there a unique element of the role you can tie into your setting?

Plot: When creating your plot line think about how you have overcome difficult tasks and challenging professional situations to deliver your KPIs and exceed expectations.

Audience: The hiring company is your audience. Do your homework and research their publicly discussed projects and outlined responsibilities from the job advertisement. Look at the company’s careers page, what are their core values and how do those align with yours? If the company is a good fit for you, it should feel very natural to articulate how your skills and experience align and why you are the person for the role.

Desired Impact: Ultimately, you want sharing your story to result in an action being taken by the recruiter, in-house HR team or hiring manager. To do this think about the responsibilities for the role you are applying for and the harmony between your experience, with strong examples to share. Try putting yourself in the hiring team’s shoes, what would make you, well, hire you?

Placement: When applying for a role, this isn’t one for you, the heavy lifting with video placement is on the shoulders of the hiring team to ensure the video finds its way to you.

If you would like an experienced guide to help you on your video-first journey we’d love to hear from you. You can reach out to me directly or contact and we can start building your recruitment story today.