Jade Heather, game design student at the Art Institute of California, Sacramento, works on her TalentEarth profile.

Jade Heather, game design student at the Art Institute of California, Sacramento, works on her TalentEarth profile.

First Look

A fresh approach to job hunting in the digital age

Back Article Aug 1, 2013 By Bill Romanelli

What started with the advent of online job boards like Monster and Yahoo! HotJobs in the mid-1990s has at last evolved into what some are now calling the Facebook of job searches. In the age of Resume 2.0, where the standard, static and flat resume just won’t cut it, a new company has emerged to help employers and potential hires cut right to the chase.

Unlike other top job sites, which feature employers, job openings and a chance to post a resume, TalentEarth (talentearth.com) turns the tables by focusing on the job seekers themselves. Members have access to an online, multimedia platform on which they can post work samples, videos and all other manner of rich content to help prospective employers get the full picture of just who they are, the work they do and whether their particular style will be a good match. Members even get a unique web address on the TalentEarth site to use for marketing themselves to potential employers.

As great as it all is for job seekers however, the audience that may reap the most benefit from TalentEarth are the employers.

“The need to find talent that you know, up front, will add value to your team has always been the desire of hiring managers. But until now, the only information you could glean about a candidate came from a resume, an interview and maybe checking references,” says Guy Plouffe, TalentEarth’s CEO. “With this site, real evidence of what a person can bring to your business is available just as easily as doing any other type of web research.”

In that respect, and in how it instantly helps minimize risk in hiring decisions, TalentEarth has no apples-to-apples competitors in the market. Employers may even find a resume on one of the other job sites and ask the candidate to post a portfolio on TalentEarth before moving on to the interview phase. The net result is a streamlined hiring process.

“In today’s economy, where people will do anything to find work, you’ll have construction workers applying for jobs as cocktail servers,” Plouffe says. “If all I have is a resume, I risk wasting a lot of time setting up and holding interviews with candidates that aren’t right for the job. If I can see evidence of their output from other jobs and employers, that helps lead to a faster hiring decision.”

Beyond employers, independent contractors can also use TalentEarth to build teams and create new revenue streams. A film editor, for example, that wants to bid on producing a TV spot can use TalentEarth to find a producer, photographer, sound technician and other talent to form a team that can bid together on the job. The site’s functionality even enables these virtual teams to communicate with and pay each other online.

Although it’s brand new, the challenge for TalentEarth isn’t getting customers. The Folsom-based company — which has staff and talent scouts throughout Silicon Valley and southern California — launched in April and already has more than 4,000 members. Members buy a one-year subscription for $9.99, which gives full access to the site’s tools and resources. Employers can also pay $300 annually to post jobs and seek talent.

Because it’s so new, the real challenge is ensuring new members are making the most of the site’s portfolio-building features. Most job hunters still operate on what Plouffe calls a “two-dimensional” plane when it comes to selling themselves. So with a subscription comes some value-added assistance.

“We have our own contractors, primarily students, who we hire to come to you and help build your TalentEarth portfolio,” Plouffe says. “We want everyone on our site to look the best they can. The strongest natural resource we have in this country today is talent. What’s going to bring us back from the recession is sewing together all this talent and putting it at everyone’s fingertips. The real mission of TalentEarth is to get America back to work.”

The idea came from a plane ride. From 30,000 feet, it was easy to look down at the city below and realize how much talent there is in America. Yet there was no way to bring all that talent together in a place that was easy for others to find.

That led to a business plan initially financed by a $750,000 debenture. Efforts to garner an additional $250,000 are under way, but Plouffe says the company is already starting to stand on its own. Within the next few months, he expects the company to be self-sustaining and expanding. A newly minted affinity relationship with the Sacramento Metro Chamber is sure to help.

“One of the biggest issues for our members, no matter their size, is the talent pool. They need good candidates, and they need a better way to sort through them,” says Philip MacDougall, senior vice president of membership sales and services for the Metro Chamber. TalentEarth provides a tool that helps eliminates some of the obstacles to hiring and limits the risk in bringing someone on board.”

TalentEarth is also working with additional chambers of commerce throughout the state to promote itself and is complementing those efforts with an online advertising campaign that kicked off in June. Plouffe’s vision is that TalentEarth will have 100,000 members by the end of 2013 and more than a million members after three years.

“My advice to anyone out there is to give us a test drive,” Plouffe says. “It costs nothing to log on and look around at postings from employers or job seekers. I’m still amazed at the talent and creativity that exists out there. Go hit our search button, and see what people are putting on there.”


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