Are You Ready For Your Closeup?

Recently I met with a small business owner and we discussed recruiting for his growing business.  When I asked him if he did any of his recruiting online and if he looked at resumes posted on job search sites, he answered with a very enthusiastic “Yes!”.  He told me he has been successful in filling a number of positions by using the filtering tools of the online job search applications to find qualified candidates and eliminate those of no interest. He also said that he liked the idea that he can start looking at posted resumes so he has some potential candidates in mind before he actually needs them.  Being able to look for candidates on his own schedule, even if he’s away from the office, was also important to him.
The business owner and I then discussed the trend of job candidates posting videos of brief professional introductions, stating their career aspirations or something about their work experience.  Still enthusiastic, the entrepreneur said he believed that employers had evolved to where they could now make objective hiring decisions that included visuals from applicants.
Over the years, the use of photographs and video resumes has not caught on because employers feared their hiring decisions might appear to have been influenced because of the way an applicant looks or doesn’t look.  And rightly so!  The Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) and the Fair Employment and Housing Administration (FEHA) frown on hiring based on appearances.  It’s illegal.
Obviously, during an interview, an applicant who does not “appear” to be appropriate because of their attire would be removed from consideration.  Employers are not supposed to make hiring decisions based on any of an applicant’s physical characteristics.  Sadly, as much as we’d like to believe that employers are accepting and inclusive of all applicants, we know discrimination in hiring exists, and too many people don’t get hired because of their weight, height, color, gender or other characteristics.  And of course we do not condone this exclusionary behavior!
People should be hired because they have the competency to do a particular job, and NOT what they look like!  Right?  So, can employers make effective and objective hiring decisions when they see a video or still image of an applicant?
I sure as heck hope so!
Business owners and human resource professionals are finally using video and still images in their candidate research.  Today, an increasing number of employers are going to social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook, (as well as professional networking sites like LinkedIn), to look up and investigate their prospective hires.  Content posted by applicants on these sites has been used in many hiring decisions, both positively and negatively.
If your are a job seeker and have posted text or images of your “questionable behavior” (albeit innocent or legal), political commentary or other content, you probably don’t want these images in the minds of hiring managers when they are thinking about selecting a candidate.
If you are a recruiter or hiring manager, you’d prefer to find images and textual content of prospective candidates engaged in pursuits that portray positive images of themselves, and potentially your business!
The obvious trend will be the growth of video-centric job search websites where candidates post videos of themselves offering Objective statements targeted to their work and career goals. And employers will more frequently use video in their online recruiting efforts to supplement what they learn from posted resumes.
So, job seekers, go ahead and make an intelligent, proactive video for job search sites that use them.
But don’t forget to remove content from any site (social networking, photo, video sharing or other) that doesn’t represent you in a positive and professional light or is otherwise unflattering!  You don’t want to lose out on a good job because you were “having too much fun” or for perceived inappropriate behaviors!
With increasing frequency, hiring decisions will be based – at least in part – by the online trail applicants leave behind.  So make sure your online presence is professional and get ready for your close-up!
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