Video is not only a core part of the way remote companies connect, communicate, collaborate and socialise, but also a core part of the hiring process.
I’m seeing more and more video as part of the initial application process, with instructions to send either a 3 minute introduction to yourself or respond to specific questions in video format.
Even if it’s not requested, I’ve found it a powerful way to demonstrate I have the confidence, creativity and the tech skills that position me as a ideal remote worker.
That said, video can be scary for many of us, but when you have a process to follow and practice, practice, practice, it can actually become a really fun, very quick and no brainer way to share your personality and stand out from the crowd. In this episode we cover:
- Tips for turning your written cover letter into a video script
- My favourite strategies for a homemade recording studio filled with natural light
- My cheeky trick for recording that makes it look like you’re talking off the cuff
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So, a video cover letter, huh? If you think that sounds scary, don’t worry, I have a process for you to follow and tips to make sure you feel confident. Video meetings are a huge part of many remote roles. It’s how you connect with your manager & your team; it’s how you’ll socialise with your team; and it’s how you might speak to your audience and clients if you’re in a marketing role. So using video strategically as part of your remote job application is an excellent idea.
If this is is totally out of your comfort zone, do me a favour: Listen to the steps, follow them, and practice. And even if you don’t do that, at least you know this episode is here. You can bookmark it and come back to it later when you realise how many opportunities are passing you by; or when you realise this is part of the remote work style and you just want in.
Even if you don’t want to create a video cover letter proactively, I’m seeing more and more companies request this is as part of your initial application, if not the second or third round. So, don’t let this requirement lock you out of applying for great roles, or remove yourself from the running after you’ve already got your foot in the hiring door.
I’m here to make sure you’ve got this. So let’s go through a few practical steps & tips so you and your video shine.
1. Your video letter script
Since you’ve already written your cover letter in episode 71, you can use this as your video script. With one slight copy addition. After you say “Hi Jason,” or “Hi Team [Company Name]”, you’d add your name and the job title that aligns with what you’re applying for like:
“I’m Stephanie Holland, Remote Marketing Strategist.”
I also usually script out more of a conversational flow. The written cover letter itself is usually brief & articulate, so quite sparing with words. The video can have a more conversational flow to it. To do this, I read the cover letter out loud, get a sense of where it feels too rigid, and make it feel more conversational.
Yes, I script everything. I script all my podcasts, all my videos, everything. I’ve practiced so much it feels — and looks! — a lot more natural now. But yes it took a whole lot of practice! If you want to wing it, wing it! I salute you! I’m a strategist and planner by nature and like to know exactly what I’m going to say.
If you’re new to video you’ll want to practice. Print out your script — or wing it! In the mirror! — and practice in front of a mirror. It’s good to see your facial expressions and notice where you ‘um’ or repeat certain words where you get stuck. Practice in front of the mirror until you feel confident saying what you want to say without um’ing & ah’ing and looking nervous.
3. Your equipment
I used to record my video cover letters using a logitech webcam and screenflow on my mac. But now I keep it so simple I can set up and record anywhere. I used my mobile phone inbuilt camera app and a tripod! That’s it! All you need to do is research a tripod that fits your phone. Just head over to Google and type: best tripods for [insert your phone make & model] and it’ll come up with a whole load of choices.
I set up my mobile phone & tripod so it’s slightly looking down on my face. Much more flattering. When I don’t record at a slightly higher angle I always wish I had.
4. Your studio.
If you’ve seen any of my videos you know that I’m a huge fan or recording outside. I have a favourite cafe in Mexico; it’s upstairs, open air and has the sunshine streaming in from all angles. But I’ve also recorded from my beach studio in Australia, and a kitchen with a skylight in London. You can also record from wherever you’ll be working, — your kitchen table or home office for example — but you’ll likely have your video interviews there anyway, so don’t be afraid to be different for the cover letter video.
Many people record in their home offices using special lighting for recording, including something called a selfie ring light, but I can’t be bothered with all those bells and whistles. Wherever you are, if you don’t have natural light inside, I highly recommend recording outside. It’s more fun, casual, and will bring out your personality & confidence.
Lighting is really important. Make sure you’ve got light coming from in front of you and behind you. This is why recording outside is so effortless. You don’t need to think about lightening, it’s already perfect.
Think about your background. I love having plants and flowers behind me. That’s just my personal brand. Think about what people will see in the background. Sometimes I’ve had to record at home, and that’s ok. Do what you’ve got with the time line you have to work with. Some deadlines require a quick turnaround.
Make sure it’s quiet and you’ll be relatively undisturbed. Because I record upstairs in a cafe, I often have an espresso machine sound behind me, or a truck driving by, or a bird singing her heart out in the tree. The sounds of life are fine as long as they don’t drown out your audio.
If you’re recording where you would usually work, make sure there aren’t any sounds that might give the impression your day to day work might be affected. That’s why it’s more fun to record outside for the cover letter; noises are more understandable, it shows confidence, and it gets you in the hiring door!
5. Your appearance.
Obviously you want to show up as the best version of yourself. The awesome person they want to HIRE.
- Do you hair: wash, brush, style as if you were going to a face to face interview with someone you respect
- Wash your face, brush your teeth, have a shower. Make sure you feel good, and fresh! This will affect your energy & the first impression of you.
- Wear your best outfit!
- Make sure your nails are clean — maybe even polished if that’s your style — they’ll be visible especially if you talk with your hands.
- Wear your favourite accessories. Small touches like ear rings, a watch, your favourite bracelet.
6. Your Makeup
And finally, makeup makes such a huge difference to your confidence.
Video can be especially unforgiving, showing up all sorts of things not visible to the naked eye like dark under eye circles and wrinkles that you don’t even have!
I’ve become a total pro at doing my makeup in a way that enhances my natural features and makes me look professional. I have some simple tricks to help you feel gorgeous, which is a massive boost in confidence. When I first started shooting video at home I went to a Booby Brown makeup counter in Richmond, England to get a makeover, get some tips for video and buy some products. They are pros at makeup, especially makeup that makes you look like YOU. Bobbi Brown is dedicated to natural makeup and skincare, and dead against air brushing photos from photoshoots. She’s my kind of gal. Here’s what I learned:
- Use a good quality moisturiser and eye cream. Allow to dry before applying makeup
- Use a base like a BB cream or a CC cream, avoid SPF of over 15+ as it makes you too shiny on video
- Apply an under eye concealer to the bone under your eyes and your inner eyelid, and smudge/ pat in with your fingers
- Apply a light touch of foundation to smooth out your skin tone
- Apply a setting powder to remove the shine
- Make sure your eyebrows stand out – eyebrows are important, they build trust
- Eyeliner to accentuate the natural lines of your eyes – this makes them pop
- Strong lipstick to accentuate your lips & cheeks – I use the same product for both, and put a ton on, this really doesn’t show up on camera, but adds a natural colour to your lips and cheeks – surprisingly. Then blot your lips and…..
You’ll be confident and ready to record!
7. Psych yourself up.
Breath work & exercise is part of my practice, but you can do whatever gets your energy moving, and you buzzing before you hit record. Remember, you want to show up as your best self. You have 1-3 minutes to get them excited about working with you. Why not go all out? Before video interviews I usually do an 11-minute Kundalini mantra, but I’ll talk about that more in the interview prep episode! For now, boogie around your bedroom to your favourite tracks, try my latin playlist — this’ll get you fired up!
I crack open the google doc containing my script, enlarge the font to 24 so my eyes don’t look like they’re reading as they ‘read’ across the script, then position my tripod in such a way that top of my phone (and camera) is positioned just beneath the first sentence, then scroll using the trackpad as I read from the script. Head over to the show notes to see a photo of the setup.
9. Edit & Upload
I don’t edit them anymore. I used to, when I recorded with a webcam & screenflow on my mac, but now using my Android I don’t. I just press record, talk, press stop, and upload it.
I generally upload it to either vimeo if it’s standalone or a dedicated landing page for that application — which I’m going to guide you to create in the next episode because it shows some major tech skills even though it’s so easy to do! This video cover letter and the landing page really do show you’ve got the basic tech skills & confidence to be a remote worker. They are well worth investing time into. And once you’re practiced and in the flow, they really don’t take much time at all.
With my cover letter template I can now write one in under 10 minutes, record in 3 mins and have the landing page up in another 10-15 minutes. Not bad for a cutting edge, multimedia application, is it?
So if you have the podcast study pack go ahead and crack open the checklist in Worksheet 20 so you have a handy reference for all the steps. It’s called worksheet 20.
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That’s it from me this week. See you next week on Thriving Empire Live!
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