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Report: France

Scheme helps young French jobless record video CVs

Shooting a video CV
Shooting a video CV facealemploi.tv

Finding a job in France is tough at the moment but if you're young, poorly-qualified, from a working-class neighbourhood and from a visible minority it's twice as hard compared to the national average. Up to 40 per cent of people under 25 are without a job. By pushing personality to the fore, video CVs give such youngsters an extra card to play. We report from a recording session at the 104 cultural centre in Paris.

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Oulimata Niang, 24, looks nervous, but manages a half smile as she looks into the camera and tries to remember the last part of her short pitch.

“I’m a good listener and respect people’s privacy. If you’re interested in finding out more, please contact me.”

The professional trainer and film-director are encouraging, but insist she can do better.

“It’s good, but your voice trails off a bit, try punching the word ‘everyone’ a bit more,” says trainer Thomas Saussay. "You look a bit severe, you have a lovely smile, use it."

It takes more than half an hour to get the desired result: a clip that shows candidates at their best while remaining natural.

It’s not an easy exercise. But Oulimata, who’s been unemployed for almost three years, hopes it will pay off.

“Recruiters can take your personality into account. It’s more like an interview in fact, as if you’re expressing yourself directly to the person.”

19-year-old Figaro says he found the retakes a bit irritating. “But at least they’ll see we were motivated enough to come and make the film, not just send a written CV,” he says.

Oulimata, Figaro, Karim, Moussa.. in total 14 youngsters from in and around Paris are recording their video CVs here today.

They’re just 45 seconds long. But “a 45 second video is worth more than a long CV,” says Vincent Baholet, FACE’s managing director.

In fact the written CV can be particularly discriminating for these youngsters.

"When these young people are asked to list their qualifications or job experience they don’t have any, so their CV is empty," he explains. "I often say the written CV can be the death of some job applications. So what’s important is that they can really highlight their desire to work, their energy, their skills."

Today’s videos will go onto a newly-launched online platform called facealemploi.tv.

Launched by FACE in April this year, it’s a partnership between companies, unemployed youth and institutions working in the employment sector.

Some of France’s largest companies such as Orange, Renault and GDF-Suez are posting all their job offers on the site, reaching out to a population with whom they would otherwise have little or no contact.

Thierry Roger, from French supermarket chain Carrefour, says the videos also provide information you wouldn’t get from a written CV, and which is particularly relevant to the retail sector.

“The video means you can see immediately what that young person’s social skills are like and in the retail business social skills are absolutely essential.”

The facealemploi.tv programme cost 900,000 euros, more than half of which was financed by the European Social Fund.

FACE says it’s too early to measure the results, but feedback has been very positive so far.

What’s more, the youngsters are finding the coaching and recording process builds confidence.

“The video CV helped me see certain things I hadn’t seen before,” says 22-year-old Nour Benamar who found interesting summer work at PSG football club after his clip went on line.

“It helped me to prepare my interviews and not to make certain mistakes: to sit upright, dress well, speak clearly and look the person in the eye,” he explains. “Thanks to the video CV I was able to send out a positive image and that’s made it a lot easier to find work.”

FACE is currently running the programme in seven parts of France, and aims to record 1,500 clips over the year before going nationwide next year.

While video CVs are not new in France, it’s the first time there’s been a project on this scale. And for Vincent Baholet, having big French companies on board is also a new and welcome development as they understand the important social role they can play.

“There is still discrimination in France but I think things are changing and the world of business is helping in that change,” he says.

Similar projects are being set up in Bulgaria, Brazil and Tunisia, while others (India, Canada and some African countries) are under study.

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