On a clear day, Jim Dick can see all the way to the end of the unemployment line. It's just up the road, as history is measured. And, for all the videotapes up there, it looks like somebody's turning it into a movie set.
As Dick sees it, the video revolution has now reached the awful world of scrounging around for a job. Thus, in January, he formed VideoResume Inc., on Washington Avenue in Towson. There, all manner of job seekers arrive, looking to replace the old, neatly typed job resumes with 10-minute video messages, suitable for standard VCRs, which offer prospective employers a more intimate look at the faces of the eager, the edgy, the frantic for a job.
"I got sick of people being just another piece of paper," says
Dick, who took what he learned working for a Timonium recruiting company and combined it with modern taping and editing equipment. "I was seeing very talented people who were getting nowhere with their written resumes, people with 15 and 20 years experience, and they couldn't find a job.
"I thought, why limit the job search to paper? If I can make it cost-effective, why not go to video? It's a way for each person to show the characteristics that differentiate them from every other person."
It's pretty competitive out there. The bosses get stacks of resumes in the mail, all neatly typed, all filled with words and numbers that don't entirely translate to the exact human being out there. The video shows not ony a face, but an ability to articulate, a sense of aggressiveness, of maturity, of grace under pressure.
"Resumes," says Dick, "don't get you jobs. They get you interviews for jobs. Nobody gets hired on the basis of a resume or a telephone interview. Hiring doesn't begin until you go face to face, I don't care how good you are on the phone. They're gonna look at you and assess you before they make one single move on you. What this does is condense the whole process.
"Listen, I've been in sales and marketing for 20 years. If I can get myself in front of an employer, I've got a possibility. That's the way every job seeker feels. The trick is to get yourself in front of the employer. And that's what the video does."
The cost is $150 for interviewing, taping and editing, plus $10 for duplicate copies of the final print. For someone whose pockets were made empty by joblessness, the thought of spending money to look for another job sounds a little ironic. To which Dick says, "What's your career worth? If you're not successful with written resumes, something needs to change."
Applicants are interviewed in a sound-proof studio that looks typical of any network morning show. Dick does a little coaching, and tells candidates to dress the way they would for any job interview. He asks a variety of questions, mostly generic but geared to the applicants' areas of expertise.
"We don't just sit 'em in front of a camera and let them talk," he says. "We have a format of questions. It's an interactive format, an interview. It's not scripted. They're candid. We interview for an hour or so, and we edit it down to 10 or 15 minutes on tape."
The reaction from job seekers has been good, he says. They're getting calls, where no calls existed before. The reaction from employers is also good, he says. They're happy not to have to wade through written files, and they like the personal look. Also, they're intrigued by what is, for the moment, the novelty of the idea.
"They're professional, they're clean," says Mark Ostrowski, of Manchester Inc., a career-counseling company. "They give a good crisp picture of people. The process saves a lot of time. I've referred people I have counseled to Jim. It's a wave of the future. The trick is, he's gonna have to get people comfortable, just like having a PC in your home. Corporations will have to get comfortable with this."
"For employers," says Dick, "it's a screening tool. They love it. They get a bunch of resumes, which sit there on the desk. These, they look at immediately. And, for people looking for jobs, it cuts down on the waiting process.
"The hardest part of looking for a job is the anxiety and anticipation and the waiting. And all the steps you have to go through, hoping to get that face-to-face interview. What we want to do eventually is put a bunch of people on one tape, back to back, and let employers pass it around.
"And there's no need to limit it locally. Down the road, this will all be tied to Internet. We'll just punch people up on computers. And we can do it all over the country. And then, maybe employers wouldn't even have to fly people in to interview them, which is another cost-cutter. They'd just look at the video."
It's a long way from the ages-old printed resumes. The world of work is changing rapidly, but maybe the world of looking for work is changing, too. Jim Dick thinks he can see all the way to the end of the unemployment line, and it looks like an entrance to the information superhighway.