February 22, 2012
Raise your hand if you’ve worked at hourly retail or hospitality job. Yeah, a lot of us have. Remember filling out paper applications and scheduling interviews with the manager – which of course meant you had to travel to their location at least twice?
A new DC-based startup called JobOn wants to change that decades-old process. Thanks to webcams and cloud technology, job seekers can record and upload a free video profile in which they answer standard interview questions and email it directly to hiring managers. The managers then have a better screening tool and can invite in only the best for a second interview.
JobOn launched last fall and has gained traction among both seekers and employers because it offers both the video application component and job listings. Customers include restaurant chain Greene Turtle, franchisees for Quiznos and Dunkin’ Donuts, Pohanka Automotive Group, Zips Dry Cleaners, Verizon Wireless retailers, Amtrak and even Computer Sciences Corporation.
I interviewed CMO Chris Ourand via email about the tremendous need for and potential of JobOn. Turns out they are in a great space: the online recruitment market is valued at $6 billion, which includes professional applicants. In their segment for retail, restaurant, customer service and similar industries, there are 80 million workers and nine million workplaces.
What made you decide to launch this startup?
CEO Jody Presti was walking through a shopping mall and saw a retail job applicant sitting on the floor filling out several paper applications; this was the same job-finding method he used as a teenager 20 years before. Presti had just left a position at an online recruitment firm where he helped technical professionals use technology to get jobs, and he realized how broken the process still was for many seekers.
Why do you think you can solve the problem inherent with interviewing/hiring hourlies?
The need is tremendous. Service-based industries that typically hire hourly workers have high turnover for various reasons. Sometimes the employees return to school, have limited availability because of other activities, or they simply are not the right fit for the position. As a result, the companies spend a significant amount of time finding and interviewing applicants, and when the screening tool is a paper or even online application, the basic information they contain is not enough to make an assessment. Companies need to see and hear the applicants, so they consequently spend a lot of time in obligatory interviews with the wrong candidates.
JobOn is upending this model because it places the interview as the first step in the hiring process. With recorded videos of applicants answering questions, companies have a powerful screening tool they use to make better hiring decisions.
What kind of success have your clients met with?
According to feedback, JobOn simulates the job fair experience where customers can gauge applicants’ enthusiasm and other traits that are relevant for customer-facing and other positions. There is a substantial reduction in the number of candidates they have to meet face to face, and for job candidates the experience allows them to create a personalized video profile that stands out among competing seekers with their paper applications.
How are you marketing your service to both job seekers and companies?
We have a direct sales force that has signed up customers, and we are also are reaching job seekers through partnerships with state agencies with career centers. They help citizens get jobs and are using JobOn to do that and as a training tool.
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