Archive for November, 2006

Video CVs – are NZ employers ready for them?

Monday, November 20th, 2006


About 15 years ago there was a sign on our university noticeboard promoting video CVs.  It sounded revolutionary.  From memory it cost about $100 to sit in front of a video camera and present one’s CV, all captured on a videotape cassette.   For the Gen Ys amongst us click for a definition of ‘videotape’.  It was something like $25 for each additional cassette copy.  Anyway, one of my classmates in job search mode gave it a go.  She read through the key sections of her CV trying to bring the words to life.  The person behind the camera asked some additional questions, like “where do you see yourself in 5 years time?”  Would this approach give her a competitive edge, wowing prospective employers?  She sent out two videos, as well as posting a bunch of paper-based CVs.  Much to her disgust she never heard a thing from the organisations she sent the videos to, not even a mere acknowledgement.  Did they not have a VCR?  Did they not like the way she looked?  

Jump forward 15 years and the video CV has re-emerged.  I wonder if the concept will fly this time round.  One thing is for sure, technology has changed the landscape big time.  First, broadband internet makes distribution easy and fast.  Secondly, lots of people have a digital video camera or know of someone who has one.  Thirdly, free software programmes make it easy to post and distribute video on the internet (including blogs or social networking sites like MySpace), and lastly the popularity of YouTube has got so many people hooked into producing, posting, and sharing video.  People are even posting their CVs on YouTube, in video form of course.  Some of the videos include people sitting in a suit talking, sometimes in an obviously scripted way.  The CVs incorporating lots of movement, changes of scene and music to match the mood are definitely more engaging, even entertaining!

One YouTube contributor, Aleksey Vayner, has received enormous media focus, stimulating debate on the use of video CVs.  Have a look for yourself and make up your own mind whether Aleksy and his claims are for real.  Wikipedia is tracking this developing story well.  It all raises the point that people need to be especially honest with their personal claims in this very public forum, or they may get sprung and receive worldwide notoriety (which may actually be a positive outcome for some).

Other developments include a surge in companies specifically geared to help jobseekers prepare a video CV - see G-Force Video Resume for a New Zealand example.  Myskillpool says on their website that “CVs are so yesterday”.  Myskillpool is a new NZ job site where jobseekers can post “multimedia portfolios” with photographs, a 55-second audio pitch, and displays of creative projects alongside the usual CV.  Myskillpool recently won the University of Auckland’s Spark $40K Challenge, receiving $20,000 in seed funding and a nine month tenancy at The ICEHOUSE business incubator, valued at $10,000.  If their service is popular then other NZ job boards may follow suit and incorporate some of these types of features.  I’m also certain that e-recruitment system vendors will incorporate features to facilitate the development of job postings and jobseeker responses that are beyond written text, such as audio and video files. 

There are some key considerations for me about the video CV concept.

Managing bias

  • I have a strong memory of one in-house recruiter seeing a photo on a CV, laughing their heads off at how funny they looked and dismissing them on that basis.  OK, they had big ears and some pimples, but that didn’t mean that they would not be capable on the job.  I don’t want to see people being discriminated against on the basis of the way they look, their age, colour of skin, clothing style, etc.
  • On the flipside, however, jobseekers who may be discriminated based on their name, country of origin etc in a text-only CV, may in fact with a video CV have a chance to change a recruiter’s perceptions (eg they may speak great English despite their foreign-sounding name). 
  • A good recruiter is aware of their biases and typical judgements of human error and puts these to one side when considering a candidate. 

Managing time

  • It will undoubtedly take extra time to view hundreds of video applications.  Again a good recruiter may also see this as a positive to better pre-screen and minimise that feeling of finding out early on in an interview that someone is not appropriate for the role.

Maintaining quality

  • Good recruiters will be able to cut through all the smoke and mirrors and marketing hype associated with some video CVs.

Jobseeker benefits

  • It can provide a jobseeker an opportunity to better showcase and communicate their personal brand.

Check out TalkingCV, I think their approach to incorporating video next to a text-based CV may be the way to go, possibly as an interim approach anyway.

Would you prefer to receive a video CV from a job candidate? (EXPIRED POLL)
            View Results
Free poll from Free Website Polls

Paul Jacobs

Cup of coffee $3.50, job interview $99.95

Friday, November 17th, 2006

There has been considerable debate and political opposition across the Tasman this year on the topic of cost-recovery recruitment.  QANTAS no-frills subsidiary Jetstar has been charging cabin crew candidates AUD$40 for a personality assessment and AUD$49 for a security check.  If the candidate progresses through the recruitment process, a medical is then undertaken, again at the candidate’s expense.  The fees don’t guarantee a job and, according to Jetstar’s public relations machine, are legitimate charges.

 “Genius,” I hear some of you say, “let’s recover hiring costs and recoup our time”.  Or maybe you’re thinking: “Despicable … outrageous … just downright wrong!”  Wearing your EEO hat, you may find this approach puts up barriers and is unfair to candidates who find it difficult to pay for a chance to show passengers their pearly whites.  Possibly the jet-setting lifestyle outweighs any initial investment.  But maybe it just doesn’t gel with your memory of that time a prospective employer flew you to the job interview, took you out to lunch, and put you up in a nice hotel all in an effort to be seen as the employer of choice.

One blogger, I think, has come up with what seems like an interesting concept.  He suggested putting interview spots on auction sites.  

For sale: Job interview for super-fancy, well-paid job @ BigCo Inc! 4 spots available. Starting bids as low as $1!” [Buy now: $1000]

Or why not just auction off the entire job:

Great job. Salary: $10,000/month + benefits. Guaranteed stay: 6 months. Position goes to highest bidder

I may have a word to Sam Morgan about this.

The topic of charging candidates has been associated more with recruitment agencies, which on the very rare occasion over the years have been pinged for double dipping, charging both the candidate and their client.  The International Labor Organization’s Private Employment Agencies Convention, 1997 (No. 181), states that employment agencies shall not charge directly or indirectly, in whole or in part, any fees or costs to [candidates].  I believe that New Zealand and Australia have not ratified this however.  In NZ the Wages Protection Act 1993 appears to preclude employers and agencies from recovering costs.  I feel this area is murky however, and maybe it is timely to have a statute that deals specifically with such issues in simple language.

Do you think billing candidates is a good idea? (EXPIRED POLL)
     View Results

Free poll from Free Website Polls

Paul Jacobs