Eugene Woo co-founded vizualize.me because he was tired of looking at regular resumes.
He was inspired by Chris Spurlock, who got a job at Huffington Post after his interactive, infographic resume went viral last February. So he decided to launch his own company based on the concept (you can check it out here).
We caught up with Woo briefly to talk about hiring. Here are a few takeaways:
How did you get your company off the ground?
Last spring we went to Start-up Weekend in Toronto, where we pitched our idea to a panel of investors: visual resumes. Midweek after the event, we had about 12,000 people signed up. That’s how it started. We went public about a month ago. Now we have close to 100,000 users.
You built this company based on your personal experience with hiring.
While recruiting and hiring for my other company [Apptellect], I looked at loads and loads of resumes. They were usually 2 to 3 pages and 1,000 words. They never carried the correct info. I’d always Google, check Facebook. A lot of data is online, on social networks.
When I was hiring for this company, I told people on my blog: “Don’t send your resume, because I don’t read resumes. I won’t read an attachment.”
How big is your company?
Currently we have two other co-founders, Kenneth Lee [Chief Developer and Hacker] and Hannah Wei [Designer and Front-End Ninja], and two part-time employees who focus on social media and blogging.
Why are employers — including yourself — fans of infographic resumes over regular ones?
The advantage of the infographic resume is that you can summarize everything in five seconds. It’s nice to look at. There’s also the potential for employers to pay more attention and more time with your resume. But on the flip side, it also helps them eliminate candidates more quickly. For example, if they want someone with 10 years of experience, and it’s easy to see [via the timeline] that the candidate has only had 5 years, they can dismiss you pretty quickly. The employer doesn’t have to calculate the years. In that way, this resume helps with pre-screening.
What’s Vizualize.me’s business model?
The service is free, but we’re launching premium accounts, which will cost $50/year.Right now we take data from LinkedIn to fill the infographic resumes. We’ve talked to them, but we don’t have a formal partnership. Since users usually improve their LinkedIn resume while in the process of updating their Vizualize.me profile, we provide more data to LinkedIn.
Is the model sustainable? Why is this the future of hiring?
I’ve had lots of interesting conversations with recruiters. They want to put a face to the candidate. That’s why they go to social media — getting a sense of who people really are through Twitter and Facebook. People hire people. Paper resumes are not personal. This then gives them a place to go. More and more recruiters are using social media to figure out who you are. You have to use these tools to your advantage.
In a Fast Company profile, you said that most CEOs and company founders you’re spoken to don’t read cover letters or resumes in detail. Do you?
I’ve done hiring for quite a lot of companies, including many senior leadership roles — for GE, and my other startups, including Apptellect. And very often I also do hiring for my friends who own companies.
If I’m hiring for someone with a technical background, I’ll scan the resume for it. Then look for more information outside the resume. I’d Google the candidate, I’d look at their Facebook, Twitter, read their blogs, get a sense of who the person is. Humanize the name on the piece of paper.
If employers are looking to Facebook and Twitter to research candidates, should people be more concerned about “cleaning up” their online data?
We did a survey with recruiters, and 9 out of 10 said yes, they’ll Google you. But I’m not the person who sees a crazy photo and disregards a candidate. I also have photos of myself socializing on Facebook. I won’t use it against anyone. Rather, I use Facebook to reinforce the application — I see what groups and activities the person is involved in.
Most recruiters are trying to fill a job. Chances are they’ll overlook those things, unless it’s a blatant crime. I don’t care about a photo of you drinking beer.
What’s the most important thing you look for in a candidate?
First, you have to have the skills and the experience. If I’m looking for a mid-level software engineer, you have to have the skills. If there’s someone who doesn’t necessarily have all the skills, they should highlight something else. I look for initiators. I want to know that this person is interested in what he or she does. I’ll see what the person writes about in their own blogs. This will set the person apart from the 9-to-5 guys.
Once you decide on a candidate, how many interviews do you usually have with a person?
Usually I just do one screening interview. I’ll ask the person to describe what they do. If I’m hiring for someone to work in social media, I’ll ask what social media campaigns they liked. What sites they go to. Understanding Internet culture is an important part of social media. I’m on the Internet all the time. If they go on Reddit, I can sum them up. I’ll know if they’re a personality fit with the company culture.
How is it different hiring for a start-up versus a large company like GE?
When hiring for Vizualize.me, we put out a tweet, which reached people who already knew of us and wanted to work for us. We wanted people who are passionate about our product in the first place. I don’t have to worry about them.
At Apptellect, I was looking at about a dozen resumes every week. It grew to about 12-13 people. I’m now a distant partner, but I still do some of the hiring.
Is the paper resume is obsolete?
I don’t think the paper resume is obsolete. Just like paper letters are not obsolete. But they’re lessening in value. An online resume will tell you more and more. A paper resume is less and less helpful.
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