ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel and now it's time for ALL TECH CONSIDERED. The economic crisis has many Americans back on the job market. It's a tough and frustrating place to be in the midst of a recession and today we're going to look at how technology can help the job search. We're joined, as we're in most Mondays, by Omar Gallaga, who covers technology culture for the Austin American-Statesman. Welcome, Omar.
Mr. OMAR GALLAGA (Reporter, Austin-American Statesman): Hi Robert, thanks for having me.
SIEGEL: And to what extent has the job search actually gone online?
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, there are still industries where they're still looking for the traditional job search methods where one recruiter I talked to called the hard copy FedEx-Kinkos candidate. But, increasingly, most people start their job search at Web sites like Monster.com or Career Builder where you can post your resume or look at job listings, but that's really changing. There's a lot more to it these days.
SIEGEL: Now I gather you've been talking with HR professionals who are involved in hiring. What kind of advice do they have for people who are going to look for a job using the job market online?
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, the problem with those Web sites like monster.com is that they're very general. You get a large gigantic sea of resumes there and it's not really where they're looking because they get inundated with a lot of information and resumes from people, especially right now. So, today's recruiters are looking at more niche Web sites that relate to an industry they're hiring in. For instance, I know someone who does recruiting for a financial firm, they look at a Web site called wallstreetoasis.com for job applicants.
SIEGEL: So, you go to those sites, you upload your resume - what else can people do to underscore their credentials?
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, there's a lot more interactive ways of creating a resume now. The idea being that a good Web site, or a visualCV as it's called, is that some of the skills that may go into creating that visualCV are ones that you'd actually use on the job. So this is especially true in areas like technology or marketing where design and presentation are important.
SIEGEL: Well, Omar hang in there for just a couple of minutes because we asked reporter Oanh Ha of member station KQED in San Francisco to check in with some job seekers who are putting this technology to the test and here's her report.
OANH HA: In the 2001 film "Legally Blonde," the ditzy heroine makes a splash with a video of her qualifications for law school narrated from a swimming pool.
(Soundbite of movie, "Legally Blonde")
Ms. REESE WITHERSPOON (Actor): (As Elle Woods) Hi, my name is Elle Woods and for my admissions essay, I'm going to tell all of you at Harvard why I'm going to make an amazing lawyer.
HA: The bikini-clad blonde was spot on about one thing - resumes printed on paper? As if. Check out this video.
Ms. JOSEPHINE CHANDRA (Student, San Jose State University): Everyday 75,000 students at San Jose State inflicted with sleep, a dangerous illness which causes unpredictable paralysis of the body.
HA: It's part of the online resume for San Jose State student Josephine Chandra. That's not her voice, but she wrote and filmed the video for a class. Chandra graduates in May and is hoping her writing and video skills will land her a job.
(Soundbite of music)
HA: Also on her Web resume is this un-narrated promotional video for the school's career center. When visitors click on Chandra's Web resume, they see a photo of her smiling, next to her name at the top. There's text on her education, work experience, but also links to PowerPoint marketing campaigns. Some resumes even offer instant Web references.
Ms. HEATHER HARE (Associate Director Center for Leadership in Community Engagement, George Mason University): I'm Heather Hare, associate director of center for leadership in community engagement at George Mason University. And I'm delighted to provide a reference for Jason Wray.
HA: These so-called social media resumes make use of all the bells and whistles of Web design and they're being built for free at the online site VisualCV. It's one of many free resume-builder sites out there, including zolio.com and gigtide.com. VisualCV founder Phillip Merrick explains why he's turning the stodgy curriculum vitae into something snazzier.
Mr. PHILLIP MERRICK (Founder, VisualCV): The traditional flat resume doesn't get across any of your personality and it certainly doesn't give you the ability to show work that you've done versus just telling somebody about work you've done.
HA: VisualCV is also a social-networking community for job-seekers and employers. Applicants can see who checked out their resumes and connect with them. At other sites, users can critique one another's resumes. San Jose State senior Juan Escobar(ph) says sites like VisualCV offer opportunities to network with people he wouldn't otherwise.
Mr. JUAN ESCOBAR (Senior, San Jose State University): It's kind of opening the barriers of feeling, okay I don't really have anything to talk about with this other person but hey, you know, here's a tool that I can use to really reach out to people and, you know, start to get to know people.
HA: Escobar has had more than 800 people check out his resume since he posted it six months ago. It no doubt helped that VisualCV featured his resume as one to emulate. He hasn't gotten a job offer yet but he says he's feeling hopeful.
SIEGEL: That's Oanh Ha of member station KQED in San Francisco. And we're back now with out tech expert Omar Gallaga. Omar, do you have any sense of how recruiters actually regard things like video resumes of the sort we just heard about?
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, when you look at things from the recruiter's point of view, with this job market they're seeing hundreds of resumes for a single position. So, they definitely don't have time to scour, say, Facebook or Twitter or to view every video resume for every applicant. But when a recruiter or HR person at a company is serious about a candidate, especially for a critical position, they'll definitely take the time to learn everything they can about them, especially if they're what's called what's called a passive candidate.
This is someone who might not be actively searching for a job but who might get headhunted on the advice of a friend or family member. Recruiters might use business networks like LinkedIn or Zoominfo to hone in on that candidate and learn more about them. At that stage they would definitely be looking at the video resume, the candidate's personal Web site, their speaking engagements. Just to get to know as much about them. That's really what a passive job candidate is expecting from a recruiter.
SIEGEL: Omar, all of this raises a question that we've discussed before, which is that a resume traditionally is your version of yourself that is scrubbed and absolutely current and if people are going to look at pictures of you or videos of you online that aren't absolutely appropriate to the kind of position you're applying for, could be a problem.
Mr. GALLAGA: Right. I mean it's all part of the package of you that you're selling. So, anything that might raise a red flag or that might give them pause to not hire you - you don't want to give them any reason not to bring you on. So, you know, you could slip up online and do something that could jeopardize your chances at a job. Recently the social media world was abuzz with the story of a woman who had secured a job at a company called Cisco Systems.
She posted a message on Twitter saying that she was due for a, quote, "fatty paycheck" doing work that she would hate. Recruiting manager at Cisco got wind of it and posted that the company is very well versed on the Web and the incident became known as the quote "Cisco fatty."
(Soundbite of laughter)
Mr. GALLAGA: There's even a Web site at ciscofatty.com explaining what happened.
SIEGEL: Any good Web sites that we might look out here?
Mr. GALLAGA: Yeah, there is one that was sent to me called ere.net and it's a Web site specifically for recruiters. So you can actually get inside their head and see what it is looking for. And then there's one Web site that tells you what no to do called nothired.com where you can see examples of some of the worst cover letters, resumes and emails from job applicants. You can look at that site and definitely get tips on what not to do when you're sending your stuff out.
SIEGEL: Yeah, I saw on the site a BBC rejection letter to someone that is about the funniest, most scathing rejection you'll ever get. What else have you got?
Mr. GALLAGA: Well, I'm going to post links to these and all of the hiring Web sites that we talked about on the community Web site, npr.org/alltech.
SIEGEL: Thank you, Omar.
Mr. GALLAGA: Thanks for having me.
SIEGEL: That's Omar Gallaga, of the Austin American-Statesman.