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Ernesto Ybarra, a former inmate of the California Rehabilitation Center, is now marketing the First Interviewed app, which he hopes will revolutionize the hiring process for employers and job seekers. Photo by Frank Lopez

published on October 23, 2020 - 2:31 PM
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Looking for work is never an easy task.

Looking for a qualified employee can also be a timely challenge.

During a world-halting pandemic, both of these tasks are made much more difficult.

With a vision to make “the Facebook of employment,” a local entrepreneur is gearing up to launch an app with the aim to change how job searchers look for work and how employers find new workers.

Ernesto Ybarra, is the CEO of First Interviewed, and is currently focused on launching the job app and web portal.

The app, in development for more than a year now, allows users to upload a profile with their personal information, work history, skills and qualifications. Users can also upload videos to give potential employers a more personalized job application.

It allows users to display themselves to employers looking for certain types of skills and qualifications, as well as narrowing the number of employers they’re interested in applying to.

First Interviewed also allows employers to better search for candidates they would be interested in hiring.

First Interviewed also allows contact and video conferencing through the app, taking out the labor of having to set up a virtual meeting through an outside app such as Zoom.

At a time of unprecedented shift in the workplace — social distancing, plastic partitions, limited room capacities and working from home — moving the job search and hiring process further into the online realm sounds like a no brainer.

As one who has been on both sides of the hiring process, Ybarra said he realized the limitations of trying to see if an employee candidate is the right fit through paper resumes and job applications.

“Being on the side of looking for a job — you fill out a piece of paper, and if you don’t know how to build a resume, people will look at it and throw it away,” Ybarra said. “They don’t get to hear or see anything about you. As an employer, when you go through resumes it takes so much time. It costs money trying to find a new hire, and it’s not something you make money from. A person’s resume can look good on paper, but then they come in and you see they’re not the right fit for your company.”

Ybarra also said that an employer could toss aside the resume of a person who would have been a great fit for the company, which is why he thinks First Interviewed gives opportunities to those who might be looked over.

Companies will also be able to describe their company and its culture to better attract potential employees.

A new employee also comes with a cost. According to Glassdoor, a website where current and former employees review companies anonymously, the average company in the U.S. spends about $4,000 to hire a new employee, and takes up to 52 days to fill a position.


Building from the Bottom Up

Born in Indiana and raised in Georgia, Ybarra was 19 when he came to Fresno from Baltimore. He started as a busser at the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Fresno, working his way up to waiter and other positions. He was also a bartender for sometime at a local bar.

It was when he got into a sales job that he started running with the wrong crowd. Ybarra said he started drinking and partying, which led to a number of downfalls in that period of his life.

Ybarra ended up going to California Rehabilitation Center (CRC), a state prison in Riverside County, for a few years.

Around eight years ago, Ybarra was sitting in the parking lot of a Home Depot when he got the idea for First Interviewed. He had a lot of visions and ideas for the project, but knowing that he lacked the computer skills necessary, he knew he would have to get a team to help him realize the vision for the app.

Ybarra had always worked in construction, and got his construction license and founded As One Construction in 2018.

In 2019, Ybarra got involved with the Vision View business incubator near the Fresno Yosemite International Airport for help with his foundation, As One Foundation. As Ybarra was working towards his success, he found that his journey of challenges, hungry nights and an endless cycle of work left him a bitter, angry person.

He felt that since no one had helped him on his journey, he shouldn’t have to help others. Ybarra realized that was not a healthy mindset to have — one that he notices a lot of business owners have. He hopes that through the foundation he can help beginning entrepreneurs with financial management, marketing strategies and business law.

“I created a foundation because it was so hard for me as a beginner in business to get people to take me seriously and to get the money that I needed. When I did get the money that I needed, I didn’t know how to use it. All the different legalities and facets to make your business grow — I didn’t know,” Ybarra said.

Ybarra spent around $80,000 for help from Bluestone Apps, an app and website developer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. He is seeking a $250,000 investment to fund innovation efforts for the app, as well as for marketing strategies and acquiring more staff.


What’s the Big Idea?

Normally, app development is associated with Silicon Valley, but Ybarra wants First Interviewed to become successful in Fresno so it can bring more recognition to the community as a way of giving back.

First Interviewed has already been approved for the Apple Store and Google Play app store, and Ybarra expects to launch within the next month and a half.

Ultimately, Ybarra is an idea man. He said he is constantly writing down ideas and concepts, and he thanks God for all of his blessings and inspiration.

He has had books published by Christian publishing companies, and has also written screenplays and is trying to get a film made.

Even though Ybarra has seen some challenging times, he has been able to come above them, and he hopes First Interviewed gives people that might have not had the same opportunities as others a chance at an even playing field in the job market.

The first three months of the subscription-based service will be free to both employees and employers.

There is a lot of people out there with amazing ideas,” Ybarra says. “If they only had the backing of people to see what they have, they would be up there.”

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