Gini Dietrich

Using Social Media to Find a Job

By: Gini Dietrich | April 28, 2010 | 

On Tuesday I moderated a PRSA social media panel and the conversation has me thinking. While we didn’t spend a lot of time talking about how to find a job through social media, we did touch on it and the message was clear. I wanted to share it with you today to prepare you for Help A PR Pro Out (#HAPPO) day on Friday.

First, to give the panel some credibility in your eyes, this is who I got to spend a couple of hours with during lunch:

* MJ Tam, the editor of Chicagonista;
* Rick Wion, the social media director at McDonald’s;
* Reid Lappin, the co-founder of VOKAL Interactive;
* Jack Monson, a VP at eNR; and
* Adam Keats, the digital practice leader at Weber-Shandwick.

Big hitters…lots of fun and interesting conversation.

The discussion turned to how people should use social media to connect with and engage with potential employers. And, just like we discussed in the video blog last week (see it here), it was no surprise to hear that these five companies (six, if you include Arment Dietrich) are using social media to stalk you online, find out what you do and say in your personal time, and how you interact with friends, family, colleagues, and customers.

I posed the question, “Social media is not a Monday through Friday, 9-5, job. How can people still enjoy work/life balance while living under these constraints?”

And everyone overwhelmingly said, that in our industry, in today’s digital world, they will not hire someone who isn’t using social media daily in their personal lives.

I agree. If we receive a resume for someone who is talented and has great experience, we likely will put them at the bottom of the list if they do not blog, use Twitter or Facebook, have a YouTube or Vimeo channel, have a Flickr page, or use Foursquare already. Not to say you have to do all of it, but you have to do something because instilling an understanding that this is not a Monday through Friday, 9-5 job, will be impossible if you’re not already practicing what we preach.

On the flip side, be careful what you do post online because if it’s perceived negatively, it won’t matter to a potential employer how proficient you are in using the tools.

So, some advice for job seekers, no matter your level:

* Connect and engage with employers you are interested in working for; it can be the CEO or the intern, just find a way in.

* Use the social media tools to build your personal brand; we all look for this and will stalk you online for many days, weeks, or (even) months before we invite you in for an interview.

* Don’t be negative. Even if you’ve been out of a job for a year and you’re getting desperate, don’t vent about it online. Sure, a bad day happens, but if it’s a daily occurrence, no employer in their right mind will touch you with a 10 foot pole.

So Help a PR Pro Out. What advice do you have for job seekers?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Gini, I agree. I’m amazed at the amount of negativity some post in the spirit of sharing everything on Social Media. I’m not talking about being exasperated because you’re having a bad day, but the comments that show this person has some qualities I wouldn’t care to deal with on a daily basis.

    Some don’t take this concept seriously, and think it will never catch up with them. I guarantee you that if I had open positions, I would observe as much of that person’s online personality and footprint as possible to find out what they’re really like. I’m an entrepreneur, a business owner, and a caretaker of my clients, not a babysitter to those who have way too many issues.

  • Gini Dietrich

    I’m actually astounded at what people put out there…and people that know I’m watching because they’re interested in working here. It makes me just shake my head. I think you’re right, these people just won’t ever get it.

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    Using social media was just one of the recommendations I had in my #HAPPO post this week.

  • Gini and Nancy,
    Completely agree. Some people share too much.
    About 18 months ago I read an article from a respected hardcopy publication (dont remember which)that recommended employers use twitter or myspace to check up on their applicants. I have been in a hiring mode for outside salespeople for the past 9 months. 2 months into it, I had an applicant whose myspace was very dark, and showed him with some of his dark (re: goth like) friends. Now dont get me wrong, employees have a right to do whatever they want on their free time, but a smart employer’s number one concern is whether a potential employee will fit in with the company culture. If I was looking for a job for anything more than $10/hr, I would censor my own social media sites.

    My biggest pet peave?!?!?
    Applicants who dont practice what they say they do. A sales applicant who loves cold calling, but never called our company to inquire. A detail oriented person who types their own phone number wrong. An ethical person who fudges on their title at a now-defunct employer. (This is a small world, and social media has made it smaller). I know most of the CEOs in my industry. And with LinkedIn, I can find the CEO of the company that went bankrupt.

  • Troy – SUPER good point! We talked about this a little bit when I saw you last…what you present online is what people perceive offline. In our industry, I know ALL of the agency leaders and we discuss candidates with one another all the time. It’s not a hard phone call or email to make to find out if your perceptions are correct or of if someone is giving you a run for the money just because they want a job.

    As employers, it’s even more important now that we check out EVERYTHING we can before hiring someone. What’s the mantra…hire slowly, fire fast!

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  • I’m working on a similar post of my own about new graduates who don’t have a clue about the social web. Astounding.

    Thanks Gini!

  • Brad Lovett

    Very good points. I sometimes wonder about tweets where people describe in detail how much they drink, for example. On the other hand, I wonder how much of the “real me” I do have to censor. Do I delete the pictures of my grandchildren; lest I be considered “too old”? Do I stop posting clips of Beatles songs and express my “love” for Lady Gaga? Eliminate all traces of my religious and political affiliations?

    Makes me wonder. Is the authentic self now dead?

  • I agree with the censorship of what you put out online – especially negative information. Question – is it necessary to have two personas online (professional vs. personal)?

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  • This is great advice — especially the don’t be negative tip. I once had a job candidate contact me via gmail, which meant I could see her gchat updates. They were a constant litany of complaints on how she couldn’t find a job! It was a real turn-off, and I certainly didn’t feel comfortable passing her information on.

    I wonder, though, what sort of dangers there will be to companies on the legal front? There are so many forbidden areas (race, religion, age) that are much more apparent on social sites. How can employees be transparent and active via social media in their job search without opening themselves up to illegal screening?

  • Ahhhhh… stalking… this explains a lot!!

    Great post Gini.. and it was great to see the perspectives of top people involved in the industry.

    What tools have you found work the best for you personally to build your brand?

  • Mark – I want to see what you write!

    Brad – You made me LOL! Do you love Lady Gaga?? I think this is less for experienced professionals. We’ve all figured out how to behave in our personal lives should it affect our professional lives (unless you’re Tiger Woods). But, like Mark says, young professionals don’t realize that what they put online can hurt their chances in the job search. Besides, I love the Beatles.

    Shamekko – I was just talking about two personas with a client a few minutes ago. My opinion on it is that you don’t have two personas in real life so why would you online? If you don’t want your grandmother to read/see something, likely you don’t want a potential employer to either so don’t post it. Unless you’re in the porn industry, you’re likely not going to find a job if you have photos of yourself doing belly shots on Facebook.

    B – We talk about the legal issue ad naseum. And, right now, there aren’t any legalities around how you hire by “stalking” online. I expect that will change, pretty soon.

    Bryan, In order: 1) Blog, 2) Speaking, 3) Twitter, 4) YouTube, 5) Facebook.

  • This post offered some really terrific advice for a young professional in the field. I have been hesitant to start my own blog because I am afraid that what I have to say may not be important. I know this is how a lot of young folks feel who are just starting out. The Internet can be an intimidating space, but you really gave me the confidence I needed to make my presence known.

    Thanks again for the great advice!

  • Angela, you could blog about tree frogs, for all I care. All I want to know is that you blog, that you understand how it works, and that people read what you have to say.

  • As an attendee at the PRSA Chicago luncheon — and the official cameraman for the day — I gained a lot of insight from the panelists. (Do you really believe that Facebook is trying to take over the world, as one panelist predicted?) As a PR professional in transition and seeking a new full-time position, I used this time to strengthen my knowledge of social media tools and learn how to employ them in my search and work for the small roster of clients I’ve secured. My message to the companies I’ve targeted: You’ll get a smarter, better, more well-rounded professional who will add value. I have a tremendous opportunity to grow and bring those skills to a new company. Note to Angela: Blog about some you’re passionate about; maybe it’s tree frogs. Note to Gini: I did get some close ups of your good side.

    • Gini Dietrich

      Do I have a bad side??

  • Gini –

    Great ideas — I have a suggestion here.

    When you make the decision to engage with someone on social media (be it the intern or the CEO): be genuine, share your ideas, and act with the confidence and the style that you would bring to the job. You will stand out from the pack if you know something about the company, the industry, and the thought leaders that either the CEO or the intern are reading.

    To be better at knowing what that person is all about, you might consider using Gist ( We’ve created an easy-to-use template for job seekers here:

    I’d be happy to personally offer a walkthrough of our service using this information, which can help give a PR pro (or anyone else) a “virtual foot in the door” for the job search.


    Greg Meyer
    Customer Experience Manager, Gist

  • Thanks! Tree frogs it is! 🙂

  • Gini – that’s a good rule of thumb, thanks!

  • Social media is so important! I am a graduating senior who interns in communications and I hope to get a job in the field. I always share my blog with potential employers as a writing sample. It highlights that I know how to use social media in an effective way, and even has links to my LinkedIn account and Twitter page.

    My internship in government public affairs also requires my knowledge of Twitter, Facebook, Myspace, Blogger and other social media tools. I used to keep all my accounts private, but now I know that having an online presence is better than none at all. My senior thesis will even be published online by my university through eScholar, so that my work can be avaliable for other researching my topic.

    Interesting post, I look forward to seeing more!

  • Several interesting points about this discussion speak to me. First, thanks Gini for sharing it with us. I find myself becoming more prejudice every day against those who aren’t using social media tools in their business when looking to hire/partner. As has already been eluded to above, lack of social media use/skills hints at an old school thinker who is being left behind technologically. I can only imagine what this equation will look like when Gen Y starts to supervise Gen X’rs. Would a Gen Y supervisor even consider hiring a Gen Y’r who didn’t understand social media? Hard to fathom they would.

    Third seems we always talk about the younger crowd being irresponsible with what they post to the real time web. I see plenty of 40 somethings posting things that shouldn’t be shared. Whether they forget because it’s cocktail hour or they are just having fun, folks seem to tweet about everything. I agree with you Gini that we should only have one personality all the time. However, some folks seem to think what they tweet after 5 (closing time) is no longer available to their business followers. Not so.

    Lastly, thanks for sharing the order of what brings you business. I find it most interesting that blogging is your #1 referral source! I look forward to hearing tips on creating such great conversations on your blog someday soon!
    Happy Friday!
    @angieswartz on Twitter
    Happy New Owner of a Droid HTC Incredible =-)

  • Gini Dietrich

    Angie – first love your signature! LOL! Secondly, you are SO RIGHT! It’s not just the younger generation that needs to think about what they put online. We ALL need to think about it.

    Last May we were in Beaver Creek with friends and we’d had a couple of glasses of wine. My friend Erin LOVES Keanu Reeves and we kept teasing her about him, saying that she has no shot with him. I ended up tweeting something about her loving him and how ridiculous I thought that was and a prospect of ours saw the tweet. He thought I was being homophobic and renigged his agreement with us (we were at the contract signing phase). I learned two things: 1) Don’t tweet anything that might possibly come off as offensive, even if you are just joking and 2) Twitter is a great way to weed through clients who probably would have been upset with us two months down the road anyway (at least that’s what I tell myself).

  • Looking for a job is like dating. The first time you meet a person you are attracted to, it is not typically advisable to reveal how you wet the bed until age 24, and that your mom still does your laundry at age 35. If you want the relationship to proceed, it is probably best to save the bed wetting conversation for much later (maybe never) and to learn how to do your own laundry.

    Translated: What you share with the world via social media needs to be honest, and needs to reflect who you are, but it should not share those parts of yourself that do not reflect on the public face you wear when you step outside of your own home. Also, if you expect other people to do the work for you, you may find yourself unemployed (and/or single) for a very long time!

  • Which begs the question, Dave…does your mom still do your laundry??

  • You crack me up! No, of course my mom doesn’t do my laundry. My wife does my laundry because, for some reason, she doesn’t like it when I wash my previously-white socks with her delicate fabrics and fancy colors!

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  • HRuncovered

    I am amazed at how many PR / Communications professionals still are not comfortable with social media / emerging media tools. This is not my field, but I cant imagine that – in this day and age – it is possible to do your job without these.

    It is certainly good to hear that these respected professionals essentially say the same thing.

    Geat article. I have Stumbled it.

  • ginidietrich

    @HRuncovered It’s crazy, especially going into 2011. Thanks for the Stumble!

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