Not only is it possible to use YouTube to get a job, but it’s becoming a more popular option, especially for the current crop of would-be-employees that grew up with web video. Some argue that video is a more personal tool for job searching, acting as a digital interview, while others see it as cold and alienating, as it lacks the face-to-face element. But YouTube isn’t just about video resumes — there are a variety of creative ways to hop online and get hired.
Even better, YouTube isn’t just for Millennials. Web video can be useful for professionals of any age looking to expand their audience or pick up new clients. With a little creativity, honesty and hard work, you can utilize YouTube to create a more effective (and more interesting) professional and digital image, rather than just falling back on the ol’ resume (digital or not). Read on for five ways to use YouTube to get a job. If you’ve landed a position through YouTube, add your story and tips in the comments below.
1. Promote Yourself
While this may seem a little obvious, amazing opportunities can come out of promoting yourself on YouTube. Tom Ferry is a real estate training coach with a best-selling book, Life! By Design. He hopped on YouTube two and a half years ago in order to grow his audience and to own the SEO in his field. Ferry has received speaking engagements and consulting jobs across the world by showcasing his talents in one or two videos each week.
“I believe in the theory of free, perfect, and now,” Ferry said. “Perfect, means short [and] easy. It’s a free twist to marketing. It’s never a concern of, ‘Gosh, if I put all my best content up for free, will people stop hiring me?’ … If I do put it up, people will see I’m a force.” For his book, he made a weekly video explaining each chapter and offering crib notes. Rather than give his book away, it became a New York Times Best Seller.
Ferry said that his audience has been steadily building, thanks to properly tagging his videos to maximize SEO and by constantly offering useful videos to his followers.
2. Post and Hope
This strategy may be the “Hail Mary” of getting jobs through YouTube, but it has proven successful in many cases. Perhaps the most famous YouTube discovery is Justin Bieber (yes, that Justin Bieber).
Bieber posted homemade videos of himself singing. He quickly jumped from hundreds of views to thousands. After he built up enough buzz, he was discovered by his now manager, Scooter Braun, and introduced to Usher.
While it helps to have boyish good looks and singing talent (like fellow discoveree Greyson Chance), this strategy isn’t just limited to teen idols. Create a channel and post videos that highlight your expertise. If you’re great at building fences, film that and offer some added value. Cultivating your fan base and reaching out to your fans can help build enough credibility or buzz to launch your career.
3. Build It
YouTube can help get you a job even if you don’t like putting your face on camera. That’s what happened for Stanford student Feross Aboukhadijeh when he created YouTube Instant on a bet to his roommate. Aboukhadijeh built YouTube Instant shortly after the launch of Google Instant to bring the same insta-search features to the video platform.
The CEO of YouTube, Chad Hurley, was so impressed that he offered him a job over Twitter. Aboukhadijeh, now an employee at YouTube, continues to add features to his design while finishing his degree at Stanford.
Not all of us can build a site that will get noticed by major execs, but Aboukhadijeh proves that creativity and hirability aren’t limited by your on-screen personality. Try programming, coding, sketching or designing something in your desired field. For example, create a new bird design for Twitter or better user interface for Facebook and post it online — you never know who’s watching.
4. Be Creative
When 23-year-old Brian Freedman saw an ad to write financial articles for iGrad, a financial advice site for college students, he focused on a small side note offering to submit video instead. Freedman created a sample video on how to budget by using envelopes and was offered the job on the spot.
Freedman felt more comfortable speaking in front of a camera than writing a cover letter or traditional resume. YouTube allowed him to show his financial sense and on-screen personality to help him land the job ahead of other potential contributors. “Doing a video with YouTube is much more effective than a resume,” Freedman said. “It basically shows what you can do, what you are capable of.”
After nine videos, Freedman parted with iGrad to start his own channel taking a bluer (read: NSFW) approach to relationship advice. He was able to build his brand and draw in far more followers than with iGrad.
5. Enter Online Contests
These days, it’s not uncommon for a company or employer to host a video contest on YouTube to draw in potential candidates. For example, Dr. Pepper teamed up with Step Up Director Jon M. Chu to hold a YouTube Dance Contest to find a dancer to feature in an Ultra Records music video — check out the winner’s video above.
Video contests are so popular on YouTube that it has an entire page dedicated to contests ranging from short film contests to social good efforts. Keep an eye out for contests in your area of expertise and enter when the right opportunity comes along.
YouTube is a simple, snappy way to get yourself seen. Aside from the social media pop and pizazz, it’s quickly becoming an effective way to own SEO terms, build a brand, and find jobs. While some video proficiency helps, fancy film work and high tech cameras aren’t key to success. Approach YouTube with creativity, authenticity and consistency, and the results might just come your way.