In Episode 129 of The Workplace podcast, CalChamber Executive Vice President and General Counsel Erika Frank, and employment law expert Matthew Roberts discuss using video resumes to screen job applicants and the problems this new trend may pose for employers.
How technology is used in the workplace has evolved greatly in the last year, and one of the latest trends is the use of video resumes. Tik Tok recently launched a resume pilot program where a candidate can apply to a job by creating a video in lieu of a paper resume, Frank tells podcast listeners.
But as “legal beagles,” she says, it’s hard not to go to the dark side and think of all the ways an employer can get sued. So, she asks Roberts, what are some of the issues that come to mind if a company decides to use video resumes to screen candidates?
For Roberts, what immediately comes to mind is the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and the anti-discrimination rules and regulations that the agency enforces.
The agency, he says, has been focusing on application processes that unfairly screen out candidates. Updates have been made to regulations on discrimination related to age, religious creed and other protected categories. For example, there is a ban-the-box law that prohibits the use of criminal background checks on job applications.
What is most concerning to Roberts is the timing of when video resumes come into the recruitment process.
With traditional resumes, all an employer has is a piece of paper with someone’s name and address, and in most cases the employer doesn’t know who the person is. This changes drastically, however, with video resumes because the employer sees exactly who the person is at the same time that they are determining whether to move the candidate through the recruitment process, Roberts says.
Immediately, a prospective employer can see who the candidate is, their age, gender, ethnicity and race. And, he points out, depending on where the video resume is filmed, an employer can see something that would fall under a protected rights issue. For instance, a job applicant may shoot the video in their home where a PRIDE flag may be displayed on the wall. This amount of protected class information at such an early stage is something that one doesn’t get in a paper resume.
And this is important due to unconscious bias and the role that may play in decision making, Frank says. Employers should remind themselves that when screening candidates they should be looking at skills and whether the candidate meets the qualifications of the job.
A video resume is something that can be problematic as a method of hiring, she says. For example, a child or elderly person walking in the video’s background is something that an employer would not see while interviewing a candidate in an office. So, the personal aspects of one’s life are not brought to the forefront when using paper resumes.
These personal details can create problems if the hiring individual keeps the information in the back of their mind.
“Once that comes out, sometimes — based on human nature — it’s hard to ignore it,” Frank points out.
Submitting video resumes may be seen in some cases as a form of skills test as part of the qualifications for a job, but Roberts explains that if it’s used as a skills test, then it’s best to ask for a video after the employer has gone through the resume screening/recruitment process. Doing so insulates the employer from protective class issues, as the video is submitted further down the line and the candidate’s qualifications for the job have been established.
Knowing how to work video conferencing platforms became an important skill over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and because many employers will be maintaining a remote work environment, ensuring that workers can perform remote work is important, Frank says.
Additionally, the DFEH is keenly aware that there is an aging population which is still working, so it is incumbent on employers to determine if they have workers who need technology classes or better equipment in order to do their job. If employers fail to offer assistance, that can open the door to age discrimination problems, Frank warns.
Remote Work and Harassment
How the workplace is defined has changed dramatically in the last year, and many employers have employees who are working from home and will continue to work from home in the future.
One of the problems that can arise in remote workplaces is harassment behavior.
It’s just a fact that people behave differently when they’re at home, Roberts says. Whether it’s their apparel or something else—people simply forget where they are. This lax attitude can lead to people doing things they shouldn’t be doing because they forget where they are.
Workplace harassment can still arise via the use of platforms like Zoom. And this harassment behavior — even if it’s in another’s home — has to be addressed by the employer, Roberts stresses.
“All traditional workplace rules still apply,” he says.