Joel Cheesman is the Cheezhead, and that's a good thing. Cheesman is the brains behind Cheezhead.com, a popular blog covering the rapidly evolving world of online recruiting. From his base in Cleveland, Cheesman gives professionals plenty to chew on, whether he's musing about the recent launch of NotchUp.com, a site that connects companies willing to pay for interviews with top candidates, or rebuking a gaming company for its less-than-stellar careers page. We asked Cheesman for some insight into the newest job-search tools. Excerpts:
What's the biggest mistake people make when hunting for a job online these days?
Technology has made it incredibly easy to broadcast your résumé or profile to a lot of companies very quickly, easily, and for free. So I think there's probably an overreliance on technology. I think that people get lazy. They tend to think that, well, if I just put my résumé on a few job boards, then the job should come to my door. And at the end of the day, the job hunt is largely about people and it's about networking—looking at who you know and where they work.
So how can technology help us do that?
There are applications that enable you to look at your network of friends on Facebook and find out where they work. And if there's a fit—you want to work at a company, and you find out you're one or two degrees from someone who works there—that's one way to get your foot in the door and make a human connection. With Web 2.0, I think that the key to success in the future is that technology is going to have to adapt in a way that makes it easier to connect with people. You have a flurry of job sites out there that are trying to take the job search to a different level. You look at sites like itzBig, Climber, and Jobfox—which recently got $20 million in investment money—and they're trying to create assessment environments where the job seeker puts in an eHarmony-type profile and the company puts in an eHarmony-type job description. Then technology magically brings those two personalities, people, and company together—hopefully for a good match, for the perfect match. That's an example of technology trying to bring people together for a human connection.
What sorts of companies are embracing Web 2.0 applications?
You certainly find high tech does a pretty good job. Google is obviously renowned for its recruiting efforts. A lot of it is because people just want to work at Google, and they've done a really good job of building an employment brand that makes people want to work there.
Healthcare has been a real catalyst for creativity. You look at the need for radiologists, nurses, and physicians. They're kind of forced to look outside the box of just posting a job on their local newspaper site and on Monster.com. And you're seeing some anecdotal evidence of hospitals and healthcare systems doing interesting things. Johnson & Johnson has its own social network for nurses. A healthcare system in Pennsylvania is using high-tech direct mail to attract physicians to a website where they can actually interact with the recruiter.
What kinds of job seekers are using these sites and networks?
It's really interesting. One of the things I hear is: Nurses aren't going to Google and typing in "nursing jobs"—they're happily employed. They know what kinds of jobs are out there, and they go there. But if you look at some of the search data, "nursing jobs" is actually one of the top phrases around jobs, at over 1 million searches per year.
Can we really expect to see some industries, like manufacturing, finding employees through social networks?
A lot of that is supply and demand. There are people to fill the jobs, so there's less of a pain threshold to say just putting it in the paper isn't doing it, just putting it on a job board isn't doing it. So there's less of a need to think outside the box. There are certainly manufacturing jobs out there, but I think the traditional ways of recruiting are doing the job.
Are recruitment podcasts and videos meant to humanize the job-hunting process, or are companies just using them as new ways to reach people?
I think it's about finding ways to connect with people. Certainly, hearing a voice or seeing a video probably has more impact than seeing text on a website, in regards to what a company is like, what kind of culture it has, what kind of personalities work there. [But] I think mostly it's another way to connect with people. Historically, companies had newspapers, websites, and radio and the traditional marketing methods. And with the advent of MySpace, Facebook, blogging, RSS feeds, Twitter—all these things serve as new and different ways to connect with people. I think there is no home run. Marketing is becoming much more fragmented, and I think you see companies trying these different outlets, whether they be social networking or blogging or video. I think a lot of it right now is putting toes in the water and seeing if the water is warm or not.
What will job searches look like 10 years from now?
I think that technology will continue to personalize. And I think that your connections will mean more. I can see a day where interviews are conducted online. You know, a company is in New York, and they're looking for a VP of marketing, and they funnel it down to 10 candidates, and they interview those candidates via webcam. Then, when it funnels down to the top three, they bring those three in to their headquarters. I think the video résumé debate is going to be hot for the next few years. Typically, they're frowned upon because of [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission] regulation. Companies are scared to death of getting sued. My hope is in the next few years, something comes down in [the courts] that says it's OK to view video résumés, or it's OK to look at a Facebook profile as a résumé.