Todd Silverstein: How To Reimagine The Resume [FUTURE OF WORK]

Todd Silverstein: How To Reimagine The Resume [FUTURE OF WORK]

We talk with the Vizify Co-founder about how social media and meta-data are influencing how we get our jobs.

Wesley Robison
  • 19 september 2012

PSFK Presents The Future Of Work

As part of our Future of Work Series, PSFK reached out to experts to get their take on the changes we’ve identified that are currently going on in the workplace. We recently caught up with Todd Silverstein, Co-Founder of Vizify, and chatted with him about how social is changing hiring and workplace collaboration. His project creates visual representations of your resume, past work and areas of interest that you are involved in. Read our chat with Todd below to hear more about how Vizify is bringing meta-data out from behind the scenes.

What is the problem you are trying to solve with Vizify?

We created, essentially, a bunch of fake resumes of different kinds, some of them visual, some of them not, and then went out and tried to get work, ourselves. That was really an interesting experience. What we found, through that process, was a couple of things.

One is that hiring has, unfortunately, become algorithmic, in the sense that you’re applying, and there are computers or keywords or systems that are processing the resumes first. The other thing that we heard is, with the economy being in not great shape, the volume of resumes and the ease with which you can apply to jobs has increased and created a flood of resumes. This means that the amount of time spent looking at the individual candidate is dropping significantly. We heard from a bunch of people, and data out there says that the average hiring manager will only spend six seconds on your resume.

There’s a perception that there was mostly noise and not a lot of signal. There was a very strong hunger for signal, once you had gotten it down to a manageable number of people. In fact, we kept hearing a lot more demand for a cultural fit and the lengths that people were going to, and the time and resources that they were spending to really try and get a better feel for who candidates were, and what they were all about. Vizify, really, is claiming that second area. Where if you’re not an artist with a portfolio of work, how do you represent yourself?

Is who you know as important as what you know?

 There’s a collection of companies like BranchOut and, of course LinkedIn, which are the ultimate in social recruiting. But there is an interesting opportunity that we see out there. It makes it easier to not only find people, but find people like yourself, so that’s a piece of it. Secondly, people are looking, say, “This is someone who says they’re passionate about boating, if I see evidence of that in social media” so it’s a little bit of a lightweight check-in, substantiation or an elaboration.

We think that participation in some of these things online becomes its own data set. If you think about that line that traditionally went in the body of your resume, “I enjoy camping and hiking,” if you actually enjoy those things, you’re probably participating in a community that talks about those things online. Both hiring managers and candidates are looking to match work cultures that are a fit, both socially and for productivity means.


How does this work with people that aren’t super-users or cant talk about projects?

Part of our vision, and what we’re trying to do a little bit with the visualization. The history of interactions around the things that you’re passionate about, for the most part, gets lost beneath the waves because there are conversations that happened here or there

By simply capturing and reorganizing the presentation around what goes unnoticed by snapshots, you can very effectively demonstrate to someone, “Oh, this is someone who’s been talking about Ruby the programming language for six years,” or “Oh, he’s always writing about the state of advertising.” It’s a different view or lens in that we think it’s interesting and unique in light of demonstrating your bona fides, but not in a way of, “Hey, I need to toot my own horn.”

The former moment becomes a piece of your portfolio, because you may not be able to show, “Hey, I was working for IBM, it was a project that was locked down. I can’t really talk about that time I was at IBM. Here’s a decent way to demonstrate it.”

Again, we’re starting with publicly available data, but I think part of what we hope to do in the future is to get inside some of these private sources, not to copy or show or reveal in any way the actual work, but if you can take some of the metadata, or the activity around that work, I think there’s a really interesting portrait to be made out of that too.

Beyond the hiring threshold how is social changing workplace flows?

I think that its helping the way that we work. We’re up to seven people, and then we work with four or five additional contractors. That’s very lightweight, loosely joined parts too. We’ve got core teams working on product from the rest, but we’ll essentially pull together an impromptu team for bigger or special projects. Working with  a few people remotely.

We’re using a lot of the same basic stuff, like the communication tools like Skype and everything else has gotten so much better, Google Hangouts, DropBox etc. I think it’s made work a lot more portable. I feel like we’re much more organized around projects at this point than we are, if you think about having a traditional organizational structure, even.

What do you see as some of the benefits of these lightweight tools that really fit this open workforce?

 They’re perfect for a startup on three tensions. One is they’re not that expensive to try, and that means we’ve actually picked up and put down four different pieces of software for doing our bugs and features, so we’ve found the one that fit us best. I think if you remember back in the days with massive contracts, decisions were made, and there are a bunch of stakeholders and the project would still fail. Now you throw down a credit card and you can try one. What that allows for I think is a much more rapid adoption, but also a chance in a way that you never had before to try three or four different things, as it were, before you buy, or to actually change tools without losing a lot of data. There’s a lot less lock-in than there used to be.

For us, there’s no expense for it. Most of these things live in the Cloud, which is something that we’re very comfortable with. The thing that’s most interesting, is that in adding more content, that will allow you to put it down and then pick it back up again and be like, “Oh, where was I? If that wasn’t me who was touching it last, where was the last person on it?” That’s one of the things that I think is going to be humming.

I think this is one of the areas that we’re going to see a lot more progress on in the next five or ten years in terms of the tools giving you more context. The tools being a much more immediately apparent, like what you do with them when you pick them up, and I still think we’re in the early days of that.

Thanks Todd!

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