Michelle Madhok, founder of SheFinds.com, a New York City company that operates a shopping blog about fashion and beauty trends and deals, needed to hire an editorial assistant. "MTV Hired," a new documentary series following recent graduates, wanted to film a small business that was hiring. It was a match made for TV.
SheFinds.com will be one of the companies featured on "MTV Hired," which premieres on May 17 at 6:30 p.m. EST. The show will give an insider's look as twentysomethings vie for their dream job in unique industries. The drama builds as the youngsters prepare for their first interview, meet the business owners, struggle through assignments, and attempt to impress the hiring company enough to be offered the job. But only one lucky candidate will be offered a position per episode.
Inc.com Senior Producer Tiffany Black talked to Madhok, who was featured in the March 2008 and April 2009 issues of Inc., about what she looks for in a new hire, what it was like working with MTV, and what other small businesses could learn from watching the show.
Not too many small business owners are hiring in this economy. Has SheFinds.com grown much since 2008?
Back then it was just me and my husband; now we have four full-time employees and traffic has quadrupled (about 750,000 visitors and four million page views a month according to QuantCast). We have over a million dollars in the bank because we have been making money. We learned how to monetize the site.
What helped you succeed through the recession?
We were and are very lean. Other media outlets were using too many people to make content. We were able to get some great talent and hire people from magazines that shut down.
How did SheFinds.com get picked for "MTV Hired"?
One of our editors got an e-mail from an MTV casting director looking for small businesses that were hiring. We were looking for an editorial assistant.
What was the process like with MTV involved?
It was interesting because we met a lot more people in person than we normally would have. MTV basically took over a corner of the office and turned it into a mini TV studio. We got to see how a TV show is produced. MTV did not help us find the job candidates. We posted the job on JobScore, Mediabistro and sent links to our network. Once we found candidates we liked we shared their resumes with MTV so they could contact them. The position became available in late November but we weren't able to shoot until late January. So we had an interim editor help until we made our hire. We got over 300 resumes and interviewed 17 candidates.
What were you looking for in an editorial assistant?
We wanted a super smart and stylish editorial assistant. The person had to have a passion for fashion. We needed someone who could research, write, edit and help with general website maintenance. The person had to be able to turn around tight, accurate copy while meeting daily deadlines. They had to have knowledge of online media. Preferably one to three years of internship experience in fashion writing, editing, blogging or online publishing. The ability to thrive in a fast-paced startup environment and willingness to take on night and weekend work when needed. Our ideal candidate would be a recent college graduate with strong writing skills and a keen interest in wearable fashion.
What were your application requirements?
Everyone had to submit a resume and a cover letter explaining why they would be perfect for this job. They also had to submit a list of their favorite relevant websites, favorite TV shows and magazines and submit a write-up that would work on the blog about a fashion or beauty trend they had seen. If an applicant did not include all of the items in their application they were not considered.
Did the person start and can you share his or her name?
I don't think MTV wants me to share her name but she started in February and so far so good.
What advice do you have for other small businesses looking to hire recent graduates?
JobScore is great for small businesses. You can post your job openings to Craigslist, Monster, LinkedIn, etc. all from one place. Then, it's important to do a lot of pre-screening like an assignment before you interview to see the quality of their work.
What advice do you have for recent graduates or others looking for work?
People don't think about how they can help the business versus how the business can help them. One person said they wanted this to be a stepping-stone. I don't want to be a stone. Another asked if we get free samples.
A lot of people don't prepare and the competition is stiff out there. Over prepare, over research and do the assignment or any prep work that is required. I had one candidate complain that they didn't have enough time to do the assignment because they got it on a Friday afternoon and it was due on Sunday.
With Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn candidates can find you and harass you. Don't stalk your interviewer.
We are a new media business so don't use old media. I got several resumes in the mail.
What's next for your business?
Bridal websites haven't been that strong. So we hope to launch BridesFind.com this fall focused on what to wear. Busy brides are shopping for their satin shoes from work. We are also going to publish a SheFinds.com book on what to wear and where to get it. A book is a great marketing tool and adds to our legitimacy as a business.
What did you learn from the experience of hiring while the cameras were rolling?
Overall, it was exciting and a great team building experience for the staff.
The episode of "MTV Hired" that will feature SheFinds.com is scheduled to premiere on June 16 at 6:30 p.m. EST. That is subject to change, please check your local listings. New episodes of "MTV Hired" will air weeknights at 6:30 p.m. EST.