IT hiring: Your text resume is soooo last century

Tim Ondrey has glimpsed the future of the job-search market, and it’s going multimedia.

Already, he has had one friend using a blog and a 30-second video to apply for a marketing job and another, an IT colleague, interviewing via Skype for a developer position.

Ondrey figures it’s just a matter of time before he — and everyone else — uses more than just an old-fashioned resume to land his next job.

“I’m kind of nervous about it, but we’re all going to be in that same boat, figuring out what works and what doesn’t,” says Ondrey, an active member of the SHARE user group. An applications report specialist at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Ondrey isn’t currently looking for a job, but, like a lot of his colleagues, he keeps an eye on the market.

What he’s seeing is that video, graphics and social media are becoming part of the job-search landscape. Recruiters and hiring managers say younger workers, who grew up online and use FaceTime more than landlines, are more apt to show off their assets via personal websites, blogs, videos, and online portfolios with embedded examples of current work and links to online communities in which they’re active.

It’s no coincidence that LinkedIn recently began encouraging its users to amp up their profiles with videos, illustrations, photography and presentations. And Toronto startup has attracted 200,000 users to its tool, still in beta, that turns text-based resumes into online infographics.

“People are open to new formats, new ways of presenting credentials,” says John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology, an IT staffing firm based in Menlo Park, Calif. “People are trying to figure out how to stand out in the crowd, how to bring life to their profile and experience, and they’re using social media tools to do that.”

Reed says that neither he nor his colleagues have seen a lot of applicants submitting videos yet. When they do, they function more like cover letters than resumes. “The videos are ‘let me introduce myself before you look at my resume,'” Reed explains. “The companies look at it and say, ‘That’s cool, that’s an interesting twist, that makes the candidate stand out.'”

That’s the thinking at the Washington, D.C.-based staffing company Hire IT People LLC. Owner Dan Nandan says his firm is moving into videos as a way to showcase its IT talent.

“We felt they’d have a more powerful impact if a video resume was submitted” in addition to the traditional paper CV. “And it’s working,” he says, explaining that well-done videos presenting candidates’ skills and background “definitely make a big impact.”

Nandan recently worked with Neeraj Uppal, a technlology project manager who had made a video in which he talked about his background. The Hire IT People staff used the video to evaluate Uppal and were impressed enough to recommend him to a client company, which led to the conventional application process, with Uppal sending a text resume, then interviewing and getting the job, a contract position.

When technology project manager Neeraj Uppal was looking for a new job, he prepared a video preamble to his resume so companies could assess his presentation and communications skills. “That was definitely a first for me,” say Uppal, who credits the video with playing a part in helping him land his current contract position at a large bank.

“I don’t know if he was hired based [only] on the video, but it made an impression,” Nandan says. “It gets people’s attention. If I get 50 emails, and there’s one that says, ‘Please watch my video,’ I will watch the video first.”

Video can also function as a second chance for IT hopefuls whose resumes might otherwise be rejected by scanning software looking for specific keywords to quickly, if not always accurately, match qualifications with the position. Those same candidates might be able to hook a hiring manager’s interest with a well-crafted video pitch.

Video interviews, pros and cons

Video is playing a larger part in the entire hiring process, not just as a resume accompaniment. For example, many companies now use Skype or other videoconferencing technologies for first-round interviews, rather than in-person meetings, to save time and money while still getting a sense of candidates’ interpersonal qualities.

Some companies also use videos, recorded by candidates responding to specific questions, as a screening tool. “That’s where I’ve seen a greater evolution on the video side, because the convenience factor is tremendous,” says Dan Pollock, senior vice president of the tech-staffing firm Modis.

Typically a hiring company comes up with five to 10 questions and passes these on to Modis. Candidates for a developer position, for example, might be asked about their responsibilities on a recent project, how they approached those responsibilities and how the project turned out.

Candidates typically travel into a Modis office to record these screening sessions — Pollock says this ensures good audio and visual quality — although some candidates do it from their own computers. A SaaS platform from HireVue allows Modis to set a time limit for each response (three minutes) and control the number of retakes (one).

Hiring managers can then view the videos at their convenience, using them to replace phone calls that they had used in the past to screen candidates. “It’s much more tailored to the position that they’re trying to fill,” Pollock says, adding that the videos also show hiring managers whether candidates know their stuff, can think on their feet and can communicate concisely.

Video dos and don’ts
If you plan to submit a video as part of a job application or online profile, or if you’ve been asked to take part in an interview via teleconferencing, here’s what you need to think about before you turn on that camera:

Keep it short. Hiring managers who don’t have time for multipage resumes won’t have time for lengthy videos or rambling responses either.

Pick a professional, quiet spot. Stay out of Starbucks. And your bedroom.


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