NASCAR Retailer Perfects the Two Minute Hiring Pitch

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With more people looking for work these days, smaller companies with a job to fill are being flooded with applicants. How’s a small business owner supposed to keep up? As WBHM’s Tanya Ott reports, one Pelham company is using technology to speed up the screening process.

Last year, when Caroline Bowling needed a job, she trolled Monster and CareerBuilder for something in retail or customer service. She put in four applications.

“Two of them were applications that I put in through email. And the other two, I mailed those in.”

She got no response. Then she found an ad in a local newspaper for her dream job. Racing USA was looking for a customer service manager.

Now Bowling is a huge NASCAR fan. Her office is plastered in Jimmie Johnson pictures. He’s on teddy bears, clocks, calendars, mousepads, you name it. But before she could even submit her resume, Racing USA required Bowling to record a two minute voice mail message explaining why they should hire her.

“The ad was very specific in what they wanted — knowledgeable with Word, Excel and Access.”

Bowling spent hours plotting what she would say. And it paid off. Out of 200 applicants she got the job. Her voice message was erased shortly after she was hired, but there are plenty of less successful applicants still littering the voicemail vault at Racing USA.

Voicemail of applicant reading her list of qualifications.

Bit of overkill for a stock clerk position, according to Racing USA president David Carrington. He’s got a pretty clear idea of what he’s looking for.

“If someone would say ‘My name’s Bill Jones and I’m interested in the job’ – Delete. “My name’s Suzy Q, please give me a call back’ – Delete. I’ve heard parakeets in the background. I’ve heard husbands in the background saying ‘don’t tell them that’. I’ve heard wives say ‘you better get this job!’ I’ve heard kids screaming.”

Carrington says the economy has created a window of opportunity for small business owners like him. There are lots of highly qualified people looking for work. Normally it would take a couple of days to go through hundreds of paper applications, so Carrington decided to speed up the process with the 2 minute pitch.

“I have never heard of that being used.”

Fred Rogan has worked in human resources for more than 30 years and teaches at Samford University. He thinks voice mail screening is a bad idea.

“It’s so one-dimensional. There’s not any other consideration given to the entire person and their experience and their education.”

A lot of people agree with Rogan. Here’s a sample of responses from an online message board that asked whether people would use an automated phone screening system.

Still, Racing USA’s David Carrington says it makes his job easier so he’s going to keep using it. Which leaves me with just one more question for him: Give me your two minute statement of why you think you’re qualified for this job.

“Surely, I started the company! That’s why I’m qualified… I own it!”