Interview with VisualCV's Phillip Merrick

G2G: Why is VisualCV different from other resume posting sites?
PM: Unlike job boards and recruitment sites, VisualCV is a free, online, ad-free, media-rich resume that lets job seekers go beyond traditional resume text to embed portfolio items such as sales performance charts, images, audio and video clips of work, letters of recommendation, awards and qualifications, etc.  Critically important in today’s recruiting world where candidates are often “Googled” early on in the hiring process, VisualCV helps job seekers present a consistent professional image online that can be linked to wherever they have a digital footprint – Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, a personal or professional blog, email signature line, etc. 

While we offer members the ability to promote themselves broadly, it is important to note that they are the ones who maintain complete privacy and control over who is able to view their VisualCV – which means that it only goes where they say it should go.  For instance, members who are currently employed but preparing for a job change may only choose to have it available to trusted sources, while active job seekers may opt to have their VisualCV searchable on Google or linked to on Facebook.   The choice, as it should be, is left up to them.  However, and because not all content may be suitable for all audiences, we suggest people have two or more VisualCVs: one that can be used for public branding and a private version which can include more detailed and private information when applying for positions.

G2G: So, what have employers said about finding candidates through VisualCV so far?
PM: Employers have told us they like being able to search through the public VisualCVs to find people who might be a good fit for their organization --as it is a free and easy way to track talent, network to active and passive candidates and begin a dialogue.  But the thing employers appreciate most about VisualCV is the pricing structure.  Unlike other sites, VisualCV charges a nominal fee only after a hire is made.  Further, it allows HR members to post job requisites to their networks in one centralized place, making it easier for them to update their network each time there is a new job opportunity or posting. 

G2G: Do you know how many recent grads have found jobs using VisualCV?
PM: We can’t say for sure as it’s hard to keep track of everyone using the system, and some of members opt to keep their profiles private but I know of a handful of recent graduates that have used VisualCV to land their first job out of college.

G2G: What do you think about virtual job fairs? 
PM: We think that virtual job fairs are a good way for companies and candidates to meet more efficiently. If you inject VisualCV into the mix, because we offer candidates the ability to embed work samples and references, candidates can provide “first interview” content and get around some of the issues of not meeting face-to-face.  The real benefit of having an online presence is job seekers and employers have the ability to network, recommend candidates and meet in a hassle-free, low to no-cost venue. 

G2G: What is the biggest hurdle that 2009 grads need to overcome this recruiting season?
PM: Soon to be college graduates may find that the future isn’t as bright as they were led to believe as they quickly find themselves simultaneously competing with job candidates who have more experience and struggling to convince over-worked HR personnel that they have what it takes to succeed.  Dismal unemployment figures, combined with ceaseless predictions that layoffs will continue to rise has created a variety of challenges for grads as they attempt to land a job in this highly competitive environment.  According to the National Center for Education Statistics, colleges and universities will grant an estimated 1,585,000 bachelor's degrees this school year, up from 1,544,000 in the 2007-2008 year and 1,506,000 the prior year -- meaning that competition among the grads themselves will be inevitable.  Fortunately these individuals, who grew up with technologies such as Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, etc., are turning to these same online technologies as a way to stand out from the crowd and get their foot onto the career ladder. 

G2G: What are challenges for the companies looking to recruit Gen Y?

PM: Depending on who you read, Gen Y’s will have twice as many jobs before they reach the age of 35 than previous generations largely because they don’t expect to stay at the same job for life as the pre-baby boomers did or to be loyal to one company, asking themselves ‘how will this help me grow?.’  This means companies will need to articulate what they stand for and what they can offer beyond traditional compensation and benefits.  Savvy companies are now actively promoting their corporate culture, their positive contributions to society and their environmental impacts on the planet.  In fact, several organizations use VisualCV even when they are not hiring.  This allows them to communicate their differentiators to both active and passive job seekers, create a positive brand and increase their digital footprint.
  
G2G: How has Twitter contributed to your success, if at all?  
PM: We love Twitter and find ourselves on it quite a bit.  It’s a great tool to update members, watch for customer support issues and generally connect with individuals looking for assistance or giving out job seeking advice.  People who are active VisualCV members or those that have a strong following like Guy Kawasaki only have to tweet out that people should check out a new feature, or see a fun VisualCV and we see the results immediately in terms of traffic to the site.  You can also link to your VisualCV from your Twitter account so it’s all very seamless in terms of managing your digital brand.  Additionally, we just announced a new feature in the VisualCV system whereby any changes or updates to the VisualCV can be made in one centralized location and then shared broadly among social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.  This ensures that the most accurate information is available simultaneously among all of their digital footprints.

G2G: Do you hire interns for either paid or unpaid positions?
PM: While VisualCV does not have an official internship program (yet), we’re always open to hearing from individuals that would want an internship with the Company.  If interested, you can share your VisualCV with us by visiting our VisualCV here.

G2G: Are you hiring any entry-level grads for 2009?
PM: We currently don’t have any immediate needs but given that we’re a startup, our needs are constantly evolving.  Definitely share your VisualCV with us if you’re interested as we view that as registering interest in our company. We like to reach out first to individuals who have expressed an interest in working for us.

G2G: Anything else you want recent grads to know about you or VisualCV?
PM: By incorporating the content from their one-dimensional paper resume into new mediums like VisualCV, pending graduates can present a professional online image that goes beyond text to include graphics, photos, video and relevant links to showcase educational achievements, internships, work experience, volunteer work, interesting projects, professor recommendations.  It also allows them to highlight important but otherwise difficult to convey skills such as their poise, technical prowess, networking skills and public speaking capabilities.

Also, writing a resume of any sort can be difficult. The free ebook, available at www.visualcv.com/insidersguide, was written by career expert Louise Kursmark and has a special chapter for recent graduates on how to write a standout resume.  Finally, we have some entry-level positions available from some of our companies on VisualCV.com.  Go to www.visualcv.com/jobs to see the full list.