After burning out in high-level finance positions, Richard Zeitz turned his energies to the way we seek and land jobs in the modern age.
It’s puzzling how the world can charge ahead in one way but remain backward in another. Anyone who’s looked for a job in the 21st century knows that despite all of our technological advancements, we’re still handing sheets of paper with traditional resumes across desks. Richard Zeitz knows what it’s like to need to make a career change.
He spent 17 years in high-level finance positions. When he realized he’d lost his passion for that work, he shifted gears to take on the CEO position at Purzue, which aims to revolutionize and modernize the resume in particular and the job hunt in general. We sat down with him to discuss why the resume needs an update, and how Purzue.com is working towards that goal.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and the start-up story behind Purzue?
Richard: I had been in finance for almost 17 years in various roles including senior management positions. I was at a point in my career where I didn’t love what I was doing anymore and was feeling a little burnt out when Davinder Singh (Founder) approached me and asked me to come on board as CEO of a very young Purzue.com. Together we launched the site in January 2012. The concept behind Purzue was conceived through a single vision: To radically shift the old school resume to a smart and interactive resume. We wanted give job seekers the tools to present themselves in a way like never before seen. Since it’s inception, Purzue has come a long way in disrupting the scene. We’re here to help tear down the current industry walls and catapult the labor market toward a better hiring process forever.
Q: How do you separate yourself from your competitors and what makes you different?
Richard: The average job seeker often has less than 10 seconds to engage a hiring manager or recruiter. Candidates need to make those precious moments count. Employers and recruiters still recruit the old-fashioned way. They are hounded with resumes, all looking identical, in their email each day. However, they are powerless in identifying the ultimate talent for the job in the most efficient manner.
Purzue is an innovative and exciting career site and job board that reinvents the resume as we know it today by focusing on “smart” multimedia resumes and “smart” job postings. Job seekers are given the opportunity to make their resume more interactive by combining text, images, audio and video into an attention-gathering experience. Purzue resumes give employers a more comprehensive, three-dimensional view of the candidate from the start. Employers and recruiters distinguish their job posts with unprecedented features and are able to amplify their brand and engage the widest pool of candidates unlike any other web-based service available today.
What are some of the projects you are working on right now?
Richard: We are currently in the process of executing a number of technical projects, which includes several modules that increase user engagement and social capabilities. We are upgrading our Face-to-Face live video interviewing feature to help connect employers to candidates, instantly and effortlessly. This allows businesses to meet candidates anywhere in the world, saving time and money. The only piece missing is a handshake!
Q: How many users are currently on this platform and how do you plan to keep the numbers growing?
Richard: Currently Purzue has over 50,000 users, with hundreds of new users being added every day. While our growth continues to increase, we are looking to partner with college career services to have greater penetration in the 18-24 demographic. We are also currently planning multiple career fair events as well as creating an online video campaign to go with our increased advertising budget. Further, we are looking forward to implementing a variety of other marketing techniques and strategic partnerships in the coming months, however those are still under wraps.
Q: Please share a few tips and advice for first time tech entrepreneurs on how to bring new ideas to life?
Richard: First and foremost, do not be afraid to take risks. You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, as Wayne Gretzky once said. Always follow your instincts but be willing to adjust as you go. The creation of something new is not always accomplished by intellect, and instincts can play a huge role in your overall success. Secondly, focus on a niche. Despite how broad your ultimate vision for the marketplace is, try to define a specific niche. Narrow areas of expertise can be extremely productive. Become an expert in your niche.
Q: How do you go about marketing your business, what has been the most successful form of marketing for you?
Richard: We’ve experimented with a number of methods to reach the masses, though often we find word of mouth to be the most powerful means of gaining users. We take pride in the personalized experience we offer our users, and are happy to accommodate most requests and suggestions for the site, as well as rewarding power users who have been key to spreading our success. Articles in the Wall Street Journal and various other publications have helped raise awareness, and we additionally focus on attending and participating in business expos and career fairs on a local level. Our social media has also seen some level of success as well as offering tools for our employers to maximize the reach of their posts, though we feel a blend of all our efforts has been key to our success thus far.
Q: What is one thing you know now that you wish you knew before starting your company?
Richard: It’s not only about having an amazing product, but the attention and traction of that product that matters. I come from finance where the focus is mostly about product, not necessarily how many people were buying/investing in that product. That has been the biggest shift for me. While having an innovative product is so important, I feel internet companies are more about the momentum your company has than anything else. This is proven time and time again.
Q: What was the biggest problem you encountered with Purzue and how did you overcome it?
Richard: Discovering our niche and gaining the initial traffic was certainly difficult. There was a period of time when there was a slight lack of organization and direction for the company, which was compounded by new hires and the realization of what is actually viable on a job board, as well as the resume market. We overcame these issues by narrowing our focus to college students and recent grads, targeting entry-level and early career opportunities, and implementing a very transparent organizational structure so everyone on the team was presented a very clear vision of what their position should accomplish.
Q: How is running a tech company different than what you thought it would be?
Obviously, there was a huge learning curve for me. I’m used to meeting clients one at a time and to discuss their wealth – discussing where it is today and where they want it to be down the road. The vision was analyzed and financial strategies planned very carefully. Sometimes, the planning was for 30 years out. With a tech company (Internet), its all about now! What will the product/service do for me now? How can I benefit today? What’s hot now? What are people talking about now?
Q: What was the best entrepreneurial advice you have ever been given and by whom?
Richard: Don’t fall in love with your product, rather fall in love with the problem your product solves. The best ideas come from solving real problems. If you offer a great solution to a huge problem, the rest becomes pretty easy. This advice came from an early mentor in the financial industry.
Q: What 3 advice would you offer prospective founders about knowing when they have an idea worth making a leap for?
1) Face your fear and take the leap. Don’t be afraid to fail or get knocked down. Its never too early or too late to follow your dream. If you are passionate about your idea and committed to making it work, go for it.
2) Do you have and fully understand your Unique Selling Proposition? Ask yourself: What is the reason I’d buy from you and not a competitor? What makes your idea special and why do you deserve a share of the market? Is it creativity? Service? Price? Convenience? You need to know and embrace this.
3) Know your market potential. How big is the potential market? What share can I get? Is that enough for me to be successful?
Q: What’s your definition of success?
Richard: I think success is a constantly moving target. What we define as our goals for one month or one year from now change on a regular basis, and I believe everything is relevant to how we grow. I think we would label our story as a ‘success’ when Purzue becomes a household name and helps reinvent a hiring process that’s gone stale in recent years. We’re simply here to help job seekers and employers connect like never before.
Q: What is your favorite success quote?
Richard: “Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” – Muhammad Ali
Q: How can our community get in touch with you?
Richard: The community can check us out at Purzue.com. They can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, visit our blog at purzueblog.wordpress.com, or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.