You design a Web site and hand-deliver balloons inked with the URL to a potential employer. You craft a flashy DVD and pop it in the mail. You head to an interview armed with a laptop and speakers, ready to wow them with a multimedia presentation.
Technology is changing the nature of the job hunt. But is high-tech campaigning all it's cracked up to be?
"With the use of technology, you try not to let it be a deciding factor. It's difficult to put it out of the mind, but it's the simplicity of the ideas at the end of the day," says Huw Griffith, CEO of M&C Saatchi in Los Angeles, who has received video presentations showcasing hopeful job seekers' work. "If the work and the skills aren't there, it's not warranted."
But what if the work and skills are there?
Jarek Carethers, until recently an associate creative director for GlobalHue in Southfield, Mich., used his Web-design skills last year to construct a site, Illustcat.net, that showcases his portfolio and résumé, among other features. He also translated the site into an interactive DVD, using the Mac software program DVD Studio Pro.
Carethers says he sent companies a link and got five job offers. (He did not accept any of them, however, and is currently consulting.) "I directed them to my Web site, and it helped," he says. "The Web site is more like a hook, not the bait. Most of my job offers are from word of mouth."
Carethers says simplicity is key to a good site. "A lot of people depend on it too much," he says. "I did two Web sites. The first one was too complex, and [it took] too long to get into it. ... It was nice-looking and clever, but trying to be clever isn't always a good thing for people to get through it. You want people to be able to access it easily."
Paul Osen, acd at UniWorld in New York, also set up a site, PaulOsen.com. And when he interviewed for his current position, he brought his laptop and two speakers to the job interview. "They were impressed," he says. "It shows that I'm up on technology. You're including emotion, sounds and visuals in your presentation, like you would do for a client. ... They get to see the full dynamic of what you're going to bring to the company—your personality, your presentation skills and your work."
Even if computer and video-editing skills aren't your forte, there are practical reasons for getting your résumé and work into an electronic format, even a rudimentary one.
"We do often receive electronic résumés. We prefer them now," says Cathy Coracim, human-resources director at Young and Rubicam in New York. "It's much easier to move them around to people who need to see them."
Beth Silver, svp of human resources at Grey in New York, agrees. "If you know about a hot candidate and you want to get their résumé out quickly, you can disseminate it faster and ramp up possible interviews," she says. "It doesn't have to go through the mail, and it doesn't have to be stamped and processed."
Job candidates can post e-résumés on career Web sites like Talent Zoo and send reels in digital formats to sites like The Source Maythenyi (SourceTV.com) for easy viewing.
"Technology has made it enormously easier to access people's work, whether it be sending DVDs rather than quarter- or half-inch reels," says Nancee Martin, director of worldwide talent at Foote Cone & Belding. "Most creatives have a Web site of their own."
"It's not an uncommon to see a CD with [the candidate's] accomplishments on it," says Sharon Spielman, managing director of executive-recruitment firm Jerry Fields Associates in New York. "Web sites are common, where most people have samples of their work. Creative people, writers and account directors can point to the strategies used. It's more of a preview for potential clients. The reality is that the clients out there are more interested in people who have strong business solutions for them."
And M&C Saatchi's Griffith again warns that style won't trump substance. "You try to teach younger people, 'Get your book right,' " he says. "Senior people are good at selling themselves. Junior people think they have to be creative and really be over the top. It's all about timing with the right book."