Archive for January, 2010

Improve Communication Efficiency in 2010

Posted on January 31, 2010. Filed under: Video Messaging, webcam | Tags: , , , , , , , |

The calendar has turned over to 2010, but the economic challenges of 2009 are continuing to stay with us. Every business person I speak with talks about the need to reduce cost, meet goals with a sharply reduced workforce, and simultaneously improve quality and customer service. Our view is technology is the answer to improving performance in 2010. Communications is a budget line item that contains multiple cost elements. Direct expenses from your telephone, Internet, and audio conferencing vendors fall into this category. One must also include some travel costs into the “communications” expense line. After all, how much of your travel is associated with seeing clients and employees over a large geographic region? How about the cost of bringing job candidates into the office to interview? Airfare, hotel, rental car, and gasoline expenses all need to be included in the overall look at communications. Another cost is the lost productivity due to the time spent in travel when employees could be working instead.

One company that is focused on improving the cost and effectiveness of communications is Wingspan Performance Advisors. “We identified communications as a high potential area for saving money,” explains Wingspan’s president, Terry Dolan. “We cover the US and international markets from our headquarters in North Carolina, so we know all about meetings in far-off places and being on teleconferences at odd times.” WingspanPA focuses on:

  • Building a collaborative effort between our company and our clients
  • Creating strategies founded on analysis and data
  • Supporting our clients’ overall objectives and culture
  • Creating value for your business

WingspanPA utilizes Vonei Meeting service for live multi-person video meetings with clients throughout the world. By seeing all the other parties in the meeting WingsanPA can tell if participants are paying attention, or if they are placing the meeting on mute and multitasking. Vonei’s flat monthly or yearly price structure eliminates the costly per minute fee of traditional audio conferences. Since the service works on any computer over the Internet, there is no need for expensive cash outlays on equipment.

Vonei has vastly improved Wingspan’s remote meetings. “Our meetings are not only more efficient,” says Terry Dolan, “but they’re also much more effective. Every person at the meeting is engaged.” Vonei is so simple to use that Wingspan’s Talent Acquisition team utilizes it as a recruitment tool. “I can have face-to-face meetings with five different candidates in five different cities before lunch time,” says Fred Weber, a Wingspan executive recruiter.

Using online technology like Vonei Meeting can cut communications costs in 2010, while making it easy to continue face-to-face meetings with anyone in the world. To request a demo of the service email info@vonei.com, or call toll free 888-698-6634.

Advertisements
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Helping College Students Find Jobs

Posted on January 24, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

It is no surprise to anyone that the high unemployment rate in the U.S. has made it very difficult for talented, experienced people to find jobs. What is not discussed as frequently is how difficult it is for college seniors, and recent college graduates to find jobs. According to a CNN article, the projection for 2010 is hiring of grads with any degree will decline by 2% compared to 2009. In this tough environment we have some good news and hope for college students and graduates.

There is a new resource designed to help both the college graduate and the employer. 1stGiG.com is the first career service of its kind specifically designed to connect college undergraduates and recent college graduates and the companies that value their skills. There are no jobs posted, but there are countless opportunities for internships and employment.

Here’s how it works:

  • A precision matching matrix identifies compatible profiles between young career-bound talent and potential employers
  • When the talent accepts the match, an introduction is made with the prospective company
  • Over time, both parties make multiple connections, establish a relationship and create “opportunity pools” based on their mutual interest
  • When the right opportunity arises, the parties are prepared to move forward in the hiring process – eliminating the time-consuming process that has been the status quo.

1stGiG.com sources, screens, and presents the graduate with internship and/or career opportunities that meet their specific interests and requirements. Between 70 and 80% of jobs are never advertised. 1stGiG.com expands the opportunity network to put the college graduate on the radar of companies and industries that typically wait for job seekers to come to them, not the other way around. It’s a richer, longer-term approach to career development designed to make the “first gig” a better experience for everyone involved.

1stGiG.com has partnered with Vonei to add a video interviewing service to their site, allowing employers and college graduates to quickly and easily conduct video interviews over the Internet from their computer. In today’s economic reality, employers don’t have the time and money to visit as many campuses as they would like. Video interviewing allows the employer to recruit from anywhere without travel. Video Interviewing service starts as low as $99/year, so it is an extremely cost effective method to link employers and college graduates.

Now is a perfect time to consider using these innovative services. Help graduates start their career and begin benefiting from what only 1stGiG.com offers the early career professional!

For more information about Vonei LLC see www.vonei.com. For an online demo of the video interview service email us at info@vonei.com or call us toll free on 888-698-6634.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )

Is It Ethical To Record Your Candidate Interviews?

Posted on January 18, 2010. Filed under: video interview | Tags: |

There are many times when it would be great to have a recording (either audio or video) of an interview with a candidate.  You could go back through the interview later to review responses, it could be used afterwards for coaching the candidate, and you could forward recordings of great prospects to the hiring manager/company.  We believe there are two major issues to consider when deciding to record:
1)    Is it legal to record, and if so under what circumstances?
2)    Is it ethical, proper, or “wise” to do so, and under what conditions?

The legal obligations vary by state and country, and rather than try to provide 50+ rules it is best to defer to a legal professional.  We’ve been told that in Canada you must request the candidates’ permission in writing.  In the U.S. more states than not require at least one-party consent to recording and several states require two or all party consent to recordings.  Even in a one-party consent state it may be illegal if the recording equipment is hidden from the candidate (e.g. you are recording a video call on your computer without telling the candidate).

Recording interviews may not be so much a question of ethics as it is a matter of mitigating risk.  We suggest you always ask a candidate for permission to record regardless of local requirements.  The recruiter or hiring manager could state up-front that he/she is recording the interview for purposes of “recall” later.  If you inform the interviewee that the interview will be recorded, and they acknowledge acceptance, then legality should be covered as long as the purpose is clearly limited to selection.  It would be interesting if the candidate refuses to be recorded.  What would it say about them?

Remember that being recorded cuts both ways.  When you make a recording it becomes part of a permanent record, just like comments written on a paper resume.  Some recruiters and hiring managers may not ask the right/appropriate questions, or may say something inappropriate and now there would be a record of it.  That’s okay for coaching the individual, not okay if it is needed as “evidence” at a later date.

Our belief is it is not wise if you fail to tell the interviewee that you are going to record the interview to share with the hiring company, even if you are in a one-party consent state.  Hiring is a trust building exercise and a secret recording, even if legal, doesn’t feel quite right.

You should explain the entire process to the candidate, beyond just the fact they are going to be recorded.  For example, what do you do with the recordings?  How long will they be stored?  What is the recruiter’s privacy policy?  If recordings are merely passed on to others involved in the hiring process, and then deleted as a matter of policy, it might be considered more acceptable.  Just realize it is not the norm to record interviews.  Most HR professionals understand the fluff factor and to use the recording later for other purposes, could cause question.

Recording interviews, done legally, can be a valuable tool.  Just be aware of the risks.  Have you ever recorded an interview?  Do you have any feedback, good or bad?

Alan Fitzpatrick is the co-founder of Vonei LLC, home of the $99/year unlimited usage video interviewing service.  Vonei does not store recordings of user sessions.  We can suggest tools to allow the parties to record and store on their computers.  For more about us see http://www.vonei.com.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )

How To Improve Your Webcam Video Quality

Posted on January 5, 2010. Filed under: webcam | Tags: , , , , |

Many business people are using computer webcams to conduct video calls, hold video conferences, and video interview job candidates. To ensure a good experience in your online session it is important to optimize the quality of the webcam video.

Video quality on your computer webcam depends largely on 3 factors:

  1. Webcam Quality
  2. Lighting
  3. Bandwidth.

Webcam Quality

I previously wrote a Guide to Selecting a Good Business Webcam which discusses many factors to consider in purchasing a quality webcam. It includes advice on specifications for image resolution, frames per second, features, etc., and also provided recommendations and sources to purchase your webcam. To summarize the Guide I recommend you look for a webcam with 1.3M pixel image resolution or better, speed rate of at least 30fps, and a good quality glass lens with auto focus.  When in doubt just go buy a Logitech.

The webcams built into laptops and netbooks unfortunately are not always the highest quality, and often are only 0.3M pixel resolution. They are also prone to breakage from opening and closing the clamshell. If you purchase an external webcam ensure that it has been tested with the service provider you plan to use, and that the webcam works on your operating system. No one wants to purchase a webcam with good specifications and then find out it doesn’t work on Windows 7, Vista, or Mac OsX 10.4.   Before an important online video session you need to make sure your webcam is working properly.  Simply click here to test your webcam. Bookmark the link and use it whenever you need to test your webcam to make sure it is working properly. Share the link with your friends so they can also test their webcams.

Lighting

It is amazing how much lighting can affect the quality of your online video experience. No wonder television studios have such strong lighting systems! If your video looks dim, grainy or washed out, try adjusting the location and brightness of your lighting. Below are some common problems caused by lighting and some suggestions to improve them:

  • Is the video dim? – There isn’t enough light in your room. Try turning on more lights, or move to an area where there is more light.
  • Is the image dim? – This could be caused by having a bright light source behind you. The camera adjusts its sensitivity to the background instead of you. Try positioning yourself so the light source is in front of you.
  • Is your video grainy? – While this could be caused by a low quality camera, it can also be caused (or made worse) by not having enough light. To compensate for the lack of light, cameras often adjust their sensitivity which creates more grain or “noise” in the image. Try turning another light on, or sitting closer to and facing the light source.
  • Is your video choppy? This can be caused by not having enough light in your room, but can also be caused by not having enough bandwidth. Try turning on more lights and if you still have the problem, read the section below on Bandwidth.
  • Does the image look washed out? This is usually caused by a light that is too intense (example: having a light shine directly at your face). Try dimming the light, or reflecting the light off a light colored surface, like a white piece of paper on your desk.

Bandwidth

Having sufficient bandwidth is key to a good video call. Bandwidth may vary during the day based on factors such as the amount of traffic on the network, the number of people using your Internet connection, and whether you are downloading or streaming something else. Below are three measurements of your connection speed that will influence your video quality:

  • Downstream Bandwidth – This is the amount of bandwidth you have coming to your computer from the Internet. You should have at least 1Mbps downstream bandwidth to ensure good quality video for multi-person conferences and screen sharing.
  • Upstream Bandwidth – This is the amount of bandwidth you have going from your computer to the Internet. You should have a minimum of 128kbps upstream bandwidth; for the best quality video and for multi-person conversations you should have 256kbps and higher.
  • Webcam fps.  There are several factors that influence the webcam frames per second.  A guide to these factors, including a free fps test and tips on how to improve your webcam fps is found on the webcam fps test site.
  • Latency – This is the amount of time it takes for the traffic you send to reach its destination. If you notice it is taking a long time for your friend to respond or that you are talking over each other, this is probably being caused by high latency. Your latency should be below 250ms. Latency problems are often caused by network congestion, if you experience problems, try ending the video conversation and starting it again.

It is a good idea to test your bandwidth prior to holding an online video session. Vonei is one of several sites that provides a free bandwidth speed test.

There is a free service to send webcam video mail to anyone in the world with an email address: http://mailVU.com.  It is a great way to utilize your webcam to personalize messages for birthdays, holidays, or for business contacts.  The free service has a self-destruct feature where you can set the video to stop after x views or x days.  Give it a try.

I hope this article on webcam video quality has been helpful. I welcome your comments, suggestions, and feedback from your own experiences.

Vonei LLC is a provider of video interviewing and video conferencing services.

Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )

Liked it here?
Why not try sites on the blogroll...