SYDNEY, N.S. -- There's a new approach to find qualified young employees during the pandemic.

A project in Cape Breton gives candidates 60 seconds to pitch themselves by video.

"Hi Cape Breton, I'm Kelly MacIsaac, and I'm a human resources professional looking to launch my career," is how one pitch goes.

It almost has the feel of a reality show, with six young candidates competing for employment and they're selling themselves in short videos.

"It's a pitch contest," said Robyn Lee Seale."So we have job seekers from across the island, pitching themselves in sixty second videos to employers across the island."

It's called the Hire Me Cape Breton project and it's put on by the Cape Breton Partnership.

It's an idea that's worked elsewhere, so they decided to try it here during a time when the pandemic is making it more difficult for employers, and potential hires, to find one another.

"It's a harder time to be making one-on-one connections, for sure, and so that's why we thought this was a great idea to have people have that chance to say what they have to offer, so that you get their skills, and their personality," Seale said.

Some took the opportunity to show their individuality.

Eighteen initial contestants have been whittled down to these six finalists, who come from a wide range of professional backgrounds and from all corners of the globe.

"They're certainly a diverse group of candidates," said Carla Arsenault."And we're very excited, because Cape Breton is diverse."

It's also a place with high unemployment and plenty moving away to find work.

So, for the partnership, this is about attracting and keeping talent on the island.

"We want people to get jobs," Searle said. "We want employers to find talent.  But we also just want people to be excited about who's out there to be hired."

The format allows potential hires to make an impression quickly and to have a little fun while they're at it.

"Obviously, many of them come with extensive experience, but they had strong communication skills," said Arsenault. "They had the ability to display their enthusiasm."

The public can pick their favourites, too.

Online voting is open until next Monday and while the top three will get cash prizes, the best possible outcome is something bigger.

"To have all six candidates find work right here in Cape Breton," Arsenault said.

It's an approach that's different from the same old job interview experience, and one that just might uncover some hidden gems.