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Meet Dawn Siff, The Woman Who Got Noticed With A Vine Video Resume

December 12, 2013

Could you sell yourself in a six second video resume? Dawn Siff could. She created what is said to be the world’s first six second video resume on the platform Vine–a popular app allowing users to make six-second loop videos. Her novel approach propelled her into jobseeker stardom as she was featured on big name media like The Today Show, Fast Company and Mashable. Here is Dawn’s inspiring story…

Story Resumes: Dawn, what gave you the idea to create a six second video resume to tell your story?

Dawn: I think of myself as a clear communicator who can tell a story or convey an idea in just about any format and make it compelling. As a broadcast producer I have taken on challenges like explaining complex issues (The Affordable Care Act, the Stimulus Package, and a political debate) in as little time as 30 seconds. But I also have experience making hour-long documentaries. I pride myself on being able to go long or short to clearly get a point across.

When Vine was introduced I thought it was an interesting tool. I saw it as a challenge to be able to communicate my resume, or present myself, in just six seconds. I had the idea and was planning to make the Vine resume pretty soon after I first saw Vine. I knew that it was just a matter of time before someone else came up with the idea, so I worked hard to be the first to do it.

I called a few friends to help me (Meghan Scibona and Jason Nunes of SmallMediaXL). We kicked around some ideas and set up a time to shoot the following week. Then I saw an event for Social Media Week sponsored by The Daily Muse job hunting site. They had a “Twitter resume challenge” as part of the event. I called my friends and asked them if they could help me shoot much sooner. We rushed it out a few days later, in time for the event. That gave me a lot of attention right away for the resume–that was my “news peg.”

Story Resumes: How long had you been job searching before you decided to try a story resume?

Dawn: About three months.

Story Resumes: Would you walk us through your creation process?

Dawn: I scheduled a conference call with my friends (Meghan and Jason) and we kicked around a few ideas. Jason had this idea that I would dress as a magician and pull the props out of a hat. We could use stop animation to make large things pop out. It would have been pretty cool and I knew it might tell a cohesive story, but it just wasn’t “me”. I think I knew all along exactly how I wanted to do it–that I would stand on-camera like a news reporter because that is closer to who I am.

Once I knew how I wanted to execute the video, I came up with the adjectives I wanted to use to describe myself. The script is this: Journalist, strategist, manager, deadline Jedi–Idea machine, Dawn Siff.

Because the video is on a loop, in one of the early news reports they wrote it up as me starting with my name. I didn’t mind, because it’s such a minor thing to get wrong and the coverage was really positive, but I think it flows much better the way I actually wrote and read it, with my name last.

I really would have liked to have had more time to get the props. I took some ribbing online because I used a “Sith” lightsaber, instead of a blue Jedi saber for the words “Deadline Jedi.” I grew up on Star Wars; I definitely knew the difference and I had plans to find a really proper Jedi lightsaber, to rent one from a costume shop, for example, that would light up and look amazing on camera. But because we moved up the shoot I had just a few hours to grab everything I would need.

Story Resumes: Was your video resume more easy or difficult to put together than you thought it would be, and if so, how?

Dawn: It was challenging because of the limitations of Vine, especially the first iteration of the app. The program was buggy. Sometimes we would have a take we liked and then it would just freeze up and we would lose it. And because of the way Vine is set up, you can’t do several takes and then splice them together, which we, as producers, were used to doing. There is no fixing in the editing room. So it took us about four hours to shoot it that day. We had to get the lighting right, set the background, and rehearse and re-record many times. We experimented with various ways to shoot, like putting the iPhone on a tripod.

We also experimented with how the shooter, my friend, would give me my cues. She couldn’t say “ACTION” or count me down because there was no way to edit that out. I have lived in Latin America and in some countries people point with their lips. I always thought that was useful and sometimes instinctively want to do it when my hands are full, so I had Meghan cue me by pursing her lips.

Story Resumes: Your online resume garnered a fair amount of media attention–did this surprise you?

Dawn: I thought if I could be the first to do it and if I could do it well that I might get some attention. As a journalist, I knew the “news peg” of doing it in time for the Social Media Week event sponsored by The Daily Muse would also help, which was why I rushed it out, instead of taking extra time to get the perfect props. It was a good lesson in the power of doing something well, but quickly, and the importance of not waiting just to make it perfect.

I was overwhelmed by the positive response–overwhelmed and grateful. I was surprised by how far around the world it reached. I got interview requests from Latin America, the Middle East, Europe.

Story Resumes: You eventually landed a job at the Economist Group. What effect did your Vine resume have on this result?

Dawn: I think they were already planning to hire me when the Vine resume came out. I had already had a few interviews with them and things were in process. I think it was an extra feather in my cap to them, but I don’t think it was the primary reason they hired me. I had done a proposal for them a few months earlier, under a tight deadline, and impressed them. Nothing came of that earlier proposal, but they kept me in mind when they did have a position later.

Story Resumes: Finally, what advice would you offer to job seekers who want to stand out from the crowd?

Dawn: I would say that there is no substitute for networking and there are no shortcuts. I am glad I did the Vine resume. I think it made sense for me because it showcased skills that I would use in any job–producing, storytelling, creativity, ability to work under tight deadlines, digital and social media savvy.

Story Resumes: Thank you for sharing your incredible story with us, Dawn. We wish you nothing but success!

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