Looking for a job? These startups want you camera-ready.
By Steven Overly,
The adage goes that you only have one chance to make that crticial first impression — unless, of course, you just delete it and start again.
Leesburg-based JobOn has made that prospect a reality by introducing video to the application process for jobs in industries where employers often experience high turnover, such as retail, hospitality and restaurants.
“These type of employers are always collecting applications,” said chief executive Jody Presti. “Typically the hiring process takes a week or 10 days, and we’re literally condensing it down to a day or a even a few hours.”
The issue is particularly poignant at this time of year.
Black Friday sales this past weekend marked the informal start of the holiday shopping season, a one-month buying binge that triggers a temporary hiring boom as stores bulk up on staff to handle the crowds.
JobOn allows prospective hires to self-record answers to a set of standard interview questions. Employers then log onto a Web site to view the clips and contact select applicants for in-person interviews. Local branches of Quiznos, Subway, Clarks shoes and Radio Shack already use the Web site, he said.
Dan Ryan, a staffing management expert at the Society of Human Resource Management, said video résumés have not been widely adopted by employers because they don’t exactly replicate the in-person experience.
“I understand there might be some efficiency in them doing that, but I think there are things that are lost in only getting responses to a [single] set of questions,” said Ryan, who runs a Nashville-based executive search firm.
“Seeing and being able to respond to a question, both for the interviewer and the interviewee, gives a much better opportunity to see how someone will answer and how they’ll react if there’s a follow up,” he said.
While video has its limitations, Presti said many of the jobs posted on his site don’t require an advanced skill set so much as a pleasant demeanor, and at this time of year, a high tolerance for the less-than-rational shopper.
“I think you can get a lot from seeing just how people respond to questions and how they carry themselves,” Presti said. “And a lot of industries where customer service is important, that’s paramount. So it at least moves the ball forward.”
Vi Productions, also based in Leesburg, integrates video into the application process, but targets a higher income bracket. Many of the prospective hires that come to the firm’s studio for a consultation and on-camera interview are highly educated and boast management experience. They then tuck the three to five minute video in with their resume and cover letter.
It’s a business that chief executive Anthony Cornecelli first conceived in 1995, shortly after he graduated from college. But the technology wasn’t there to make the idea feasible, he said.
Video has in fact been made more pervasive because of advancements in technology. Most laptops, smartphones and tablets today come equipped with a camera and video software. High-speed Internet has reduced upload times to mere seconds.
But there’s a cultural component as well. More than 48 hours of content is posted on video sharing Web site YouTube every minute. Many of those videos feature people merely talking, singing or horsing around on camera.
“We’ve come into this virtual world. There is no Facebook without pictures,” Cornecelli said. “Everything is virtual and I said, ‘I’m going to do this again and what we’re going to do is we’re going to concentrate on the first interview’.”