What Works — and Doesn’t — in a Social Media-Based Job Hunt
We’ve all seen them: the online efforts of eager job hunters, clawing at their social media dream jobs like 12-year-olds at a Justin Bieber concert. They’re interesting. They’re flashy. They’re “outside the box.”
But do they actually work?
Most of these social media stunts gain attention for a hot minute, either in the job seeker’s local newspaper, or, if they’re lucky, on a career blog like this one, before fading into obscurity.
So is it worth developing a job-hunting campaign as part of your next search? Let’s take a look at your predecessors:
Hire Me Krispy Kreme
Braden Young, a fervent fan of the sugar-laced doughnut chain, saw an opening on their team for a sales and marketing manager in Philadelphia, and went all-out with an attention-grabbing cover letter, plus Facebook and Twitter pages. His campaign is detailed in this post by Corn on the Job.
What worked: Young was already passionate about the company he was applying to work for, which came through in his content. But most importantly, he had the skills to back up the ostentatious way he handled the job search. He articulated his qualifications in a succinct and memorable way.
What didn’t: Not much to complain about with this job seeker. He heard from Krispy Kreme four hours after launching his campaign, and guess what? He got the job.
Hire Me Chipotle
Bianca Cadloni created a website devoted to her efforts to snag a social media and PR gig for the Mexican grill, with the words “WILL WORK FOR GUACAMOLE” greeting all visitors to the site. Different sections such as “Social Media” and “Public Relations” detailed her qualifications, in addition to a digital version of her resume.
What worked: She used a Twitter handle, @HireMeChipotle, as well as a hashtag by the same name to get the word out and corral all discussions related to her search. Also, she made herself personable in her content, talking about her first experience with the restaurant chain, and inserting her voice in all communications.
What didn’t: Unfortunately, this job seeker didn’t even get to the interview phase. Even with a solid website and social media efforts, I have a feeling the decision came down to experience. With two short internships under her belt and some editorial work for a niche online magazine, it’s tough to stand taller than other candidates with even two or three years of public relations experience.
Chipotle’s communications director emailed Cadloni to let her know she’d been noticed, but in a candidate pool of roughly 500 people, there was no guarantee they’d even be able meet her in person.
“I stood out in a sea of resumes, but with the job market this tough, even a #HireMe campaign isn’t enough,” Cadloni said in her farewell blog post. So what’s her advice for job-seekers who are considering a similar campaign? “Set yourself apart from other candidates by owning your online presence. … Write a blog about the industry trends in your market. … Confidence is catchy.”
Dear Lisa Rudgers
2010 University of Michigan graduate Lindsay Blackwell wants to be the university’s first social media director. She created a website called “Dear Lisa Rudgers,” in honor of the school official who will ultimately make the final hiring decision.
The site’s homepage features a flashy, well, Flash video, illustrating her love of Michigan and offering a peek into her experience at the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra. You can download her resume from the site, learn why she wants this job and follow her progress via a consistently updated timeline.
What worked: The jury’s still out. The university is reviewing about 200 applications and isn’t expected to make a decision before December.
What Blackwell has managed to do in her campaign, however, is not only create buzz via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, but also through mainstream media as well. She’s been featured on AnnArbor.com, FOX 2 Detroit, MLive.com, the Detroit News and in a handful of other places. She’s received props for her efforts from notable figures like the CEO of Twitter (who also happens to be a U-M alum) and the School of Information’s Dean Jeffrey MacKie-Mason. She’s become the region’s unofficial social media darling.
What didn’t: The game killer here could, again, be a lack of experience. While perusing Blackwell’s three-page resume (yes, you read that correctly), one cannot help but notice that beyond a marketing manager role she’s held at the Symphony since April 2011, there is no compelling reason to believe she can handle the responsibility of directing the social media efforts of a global brand.
Sure, she’s a die-hard Wolverine who’s proud of her alma mater, but all she’s demonstrated thus far is the ability to be creative and get some ink for herself in the media. I’m not convinced her linguistics and English background has prepared her to hang with more experienced marketing candidates for a job that commands a base salary of $90,000. While most seem to think the university would be crazy not to hire her, I wonder what might happen to the brand if they do.
What do you guys think? Are these types of campaigns effective? Should their buzz-worthiness or level of success trump experience? Have social media campaigns to land a new gig jumped the shark? Let us know in the comments section.
Erica Moss is the social media outreach coordinator for the Master of Science in Nursing degree program at Georgetown University, which has one of the nation’s leading family nurse practitioner programs. She adores community building, Taylor Swift and her English bulldog, Mona.
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