Kiwi entrepreneur looks to shake up the recruitment market with video CVs

Earlier this month, a young Auckland professional made headlines for using Facebook to try and land his dream job. Edward McKnight used ads on the social media site to target ASB staff as a way of applying for the role of youth and innovation sponsorship manager at the bank.

And while McKnight has yet to be offered a job at ASB, it’s a sign that the traditional recruitment process of sending in a CV and crossing your fingers may be on course for a shake-up.

Hoping to do just that is the new recruitment platform PreviewMe. Set to have its beta version go live early next month, the website is designed to reduce the pain points of both candidates and employers by introducing video to the recruitment process.

CEO and co-founder Johnny Farquhar says video allows candidates to express or demonstrate their skills, confidence, cultural fit and other characteristics that would ordinarily be lost in a written word CV. He also says video allows employers to view more candidates in less time.

“Anyone can say whatever they want in a written resume, but video communicates more about your personality, your composure, aptitude and attitude,” he says.

Employers can also publish videos to show what the workplace culture is like and what it is looking for in a new recruit.

For this reason, Farquhar considered PreviewMe to be where “marketing and promotion truly meet recruitment”. He says individuals are promoting their personal brand to the employer and the employer is trying to promote itself as an attractive place to work.

Not only is PreviewMe launching with a new approach to the recruitment process, it’s launching in a hotly contested talent acquisition market with the likes of Trade Me Jobs and Seek.co.nz. However, hoping to encourage candidates and employers to use it, it’s launching free of charge.

“We believe the free model removes the primary barrier to trying new technologies,” Farquhar says. “If we have de-risked use of the platform for employers why should they not give it go? We realise we are up against some big players and cut-through to market early is essential.”

However, the plan is to start charging companies and employers for the use of the big data and analytics, which will be generated on the platform over time. These can be used to inform the company or employer of its recruitment process and how it can be improved.

When candidates and employers sign up to PreviewMe, they will create a profile like any other social media platform. However, Farquhar says while Facebook helps users manage personal relationships and LinkedIn professional connections, PreviewMe uses profiles to manage careers, roles and jobs applications.

This is also the place where candidates will share what he calls their “ice breaker” video, which he suggests is no longer than 30 seconds long. This video is a candidate’s chance to introduce who they are, what they offer and where they want to go and Farquhar encourages candidates to create a video suited to the job they are applying for. For example, creatives could create an abstract video, while lawyers can use it as an opportunity to show their verbal and non-verbal communication skills.

To help both candidates and employers make better videos, PreviewMe is working with Cornerstore and Augusto to get instructional guidance.

On top of the ice breaker video, Farquhar says employers can request additional videos that focus on specific characteristics the employer is interested in. These may be specified in the minimum requirements and pre-approval questions, which the employer can establish when publishing a role.

Specifying requirements from the beginning of the recruitment process cuts down the pool of candidates from the get-go and Farquhar says this means employers may only end up interviewing two candidates at the end, rather than the 10 they may interview to when using other services.

Another recruitment frustration PreviewMe is trying to alleviate is a candidate’s lack of knowledge surrounding where they stand in the application process compared to their competitors.

Farquhar says Kiwis have a tendency to crave more information and they won’t leave one job until they know they are getting something that can further their career. To satisfy that need for information, when a candidate applies for a job, they will receive data relating to the application that shows how many competitors applied, what their competitors’ backgrounds are in terms of skills and disciplines and where they sit compared to their competitors.

“We think it’s something quite special, and it’s something candidates deserve to know when applying for job,” Farquhar says.

A lack of correspondence contributed significantly to the creation of the platform. Co-founder James Farquhar was frustrated by the lack of feedback he got when sending in applications and without any understanding of how he compared to other candidates his confidence suffered.

PreviewMe will also show candidates where they sit in the recruitment process once they have applied for a job so there is no more wondering whether or not their application was received, let alone if it had been processed.

James adds that “with knowledge comes power” because in time, that data will also be used to assist candidates on the type of jobs they should be applying for and the skills they should be looking to gain in order to stand out.

As well as making a platform to suit the needs of candidates, James says they went out what he calls the ‘big four’ law firms, accounting forms, marketing and media–to ask about what processes they had in place for recruitment, what they did and didn’t like about those, and what the ideal recruitment platform would look like.

Those companies were then given access to an alpha version of the platform to provide further feedback and shape its features. In that time, a number of companies have already started to build up their profiles, in preparation for the launch in early October.

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