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Gini Dietrich

How Social Media Affects Your Job Search

By: Gini Dietrich | December 6, 2012 | 
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My entire team is in Chicago right now for our 2013 planning meeting and holiday dinner.

In preparation for the week, travel plans were made, client work was doubled to make up for two days away, guest blog posts were scheduled, and anticipation filled the air.

In fact, I think most of Facebook is jealous they’re all here because of the anticipation they’ve built online about their visit.

To say it’s been fun is putting it mildly. We’re like a bunch of old friends getting together after not seeing one another for years. And the really interesting part? Some of them have never met in person.

Having a virtual company will do that. We added three new staff members in third quarter this year and this is the first time they’ll have a chance to meet live. Sure, we see one another’s faces through Skype a few times a week, but it just isn’t the same.

How Hiring Has Changed

Heidi Massey said to me yesterday, “Isn’t it interesting you’ve hired all these people you first met online?”

It’s true. I met all of our new team on Twitter, Facebook, or in the Spin Sucks comments.

In fact, I have a list of people I need to meet in person soon because they’re who we think we’d like to hire in 2013.

That’s how hiring has changed for us. We get to know people online first and then, if we think they might be a good fit, we do the in person thing. Then they get to go through the formal interview process and take a writing test. By the time they’re hired, we already know where they’ll fit, how they’ll fit, where their strengths lie, and how others on the team will fill in for their weaknesses.

Job Search through Social Media

People ask me all the time to comment on how graduating students should look for a job and my answer is always: Connect online with the people who work at the companies where you think you’d like to end up.

If you are going into journalism, communications, advertising, marketing, or any other related field, this is not a nice-to-have. It’s a necessity. In fact, if we receive your resume and we don’t already know you online, we’re going to pass on you, no matter how qualified you think you might be at doing the job.

We want to know that you already know how to build relationships using technology. We want to see you writing consistently on your own blog or for others. Double gold star if you write a compelling guest post for us.

And the same goes for those of you with experience. We just won’t give you a second look when your competition is keeping themselves top-of-mind every day by connecting with us online and commenting on blog posts here.

Social Media + Working Virtually

Add on the layer that you have to be extremely motivated to be productive working at home, that you’re a self-starter, and don’t need a lot of direction (I am not a micromanager) and you’re soon competing with about one percent of the communications population who would be a good fit here.

I know I’m not alone in this. Many organizations, particularly in our field, hire the same way. If you have the perfect company in mind for your future career and they are active online, you’d better quickly figure out how to worm yourself into their hearts and minds in new and different ways.

Otherwise, make way for someone who will.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communications firm. She is the lead blogger here at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. She is the co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Her second book, Spin Sucks, is available now.

139 comments
jolynndeal
jolynndeal

Great advice, Gini.  I think the social media connection strategy you recommend is incredibly important, especially since candidates may get "screened out" of the online employment application systems most companies now use.  What a great boost if the hiring manager sees your name and thinks, "hey, I know this person." This is a great way to validate all the experience candidates highlight in their resume.  

writingrenee
writingrenee

Hi, Gini. I've read your posts before, but I'm a first-time commenter today! Just had to tell you how much I love this post and how true it is. I started as a high school English teacher and now I'm working [virtually] as a freelance writer, as well as the managing editor for Business2Community. My entire livelihood is based off of contacts and connections that I made online. People think you just have to be lucky. I say you just have to be motivated. :)

 

I need to share this post with all of my friends who don't think social plays an important role in a job search!

tressalynne
tressalynne

Having worked remotely for over 15 years -- back when it was called telecommuting and only about 0.5% (made up statistic) were doing it, I can relate!  It definitely takes a strong-willed and self-motivated person. I've often been accused of being harder on myself than anyone else is, which in this scenario is a good thing. :)

RebeccaTodd
RebeccaTodd

Still thinking about this. Can I flip the question and ask how community interaction influence the roles that you choose to create? Are you now more likely to shape a role around a person's unique skill set? 

lauraclick
lauraclick

Yes, yes, yes! I wrote a guest post for you guys last year about this very topic. Every time a student or person in the industry is looking for a job, I always point to that post because it outlines the very things you mentioned. You have to be a good writer first, but you also MUST be active and connected online. If you're not, you're just not going to cut it today.

 

The challenge I'm finding is that it is VERY difficult to find these folks. Someone who writes well, understands strategic communication/marketing AND knows how to connect online is worth their weight in gold! I know I'm still looking for that!

JackVincent
JackVincent

Great post, Gini. And this also fits not just to job applicants but to freelancers and independent consultants. 

giesencreative
giesencreative

I find it really interesting that connecting online is non-optional for you and a lot of other companies when you're hiring. I got into my job in communications by helping out on a project basis and got hired on full-time later on, but I've been actively trying to connect with the communications scene in my city through my professional organization and through Twitter. While I aim to go into freelance work, it's great to hear that I'm on the right track!

 

@smstucky, I think you should check this out.

Adam | Customer Experience
Adam | Customer Experience

Is leaving a snarky comment once a week enough? :)

 

Amazing how the world has changed. What I think is really interesting about your approach is that you don't have to filter applicants, they filter themselves for you over time. Very efficient -- and effective.

patmrhoads
patmrhoads

This is a great post, and near to my heart. I really came into my own in social media when I was laid off a couple of years ago, and in fact found my current job via a combination of in-person networking and Twitter. I tell people that Twitter changed my life, and finding this job was only one of those ways. It's the broader relationships I've built.Now I use those experiences to offer free social media tutoring to people from my church or other social circles who lose their jobs. As several people have pointed out here - it's about relationships. And I'd add the word genuine (@ginidietrich was right - you can spot the fakers): genuine relationships.I will certainly be sharing this post with some folks who could really use the help right now! 

KateFinley
KateFinley

So, basically we're internet dating?

 

Seriously though, I love scoping out potential opportunities via the WWW. Personalities shine (or thud) through online interaction and, in my opinion, they can be very telling as to what people are like in-person. I've been absolutely delighted by the friends I've made here at Spin Sucks and my brain is brimming with new ideas due to content and resources connected to this blog. 

 

Just like in-person interviews, you can learn a boat-load about people and their character online. 

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Gee, whatever happened to the days when someone would "give" you a job?  Work is so much... work! 

 

Back in the day, people thought the idea behind technology was to make things easier. It really hasn't worked out that way. It's raised the bar, which is difficult, but a good thing in the long run. It has also widened the playing field. I'm amazed at the talented people I discover online every day, who are making opportunities for themselves every day. And I'm kinda baffled that some of the traditional organizations out there, who need good people, aren't snapping them up. 

 

 

jennimacdonald
jennimacdonald

I couldn't agree more. I'd also like to say that building relationships online with people you've never met offline could later lead to a job opportunity at a company you never thought about, hence my current employment situation.

 

The relationships I made with @debce & @jackmonson lead to my current job at Engage121. I have many friends still today that think the dream job just lands in your lap, take my word for it, it DOESN'T. I worked HARD before coming to Engage121, building relationships, networking, guest blogging, and not sticking to 9-5. 

 

If you want something you can have it, you just gotta work for it. : )

AmyMccTobin
AmyMccTobin

I spoke to a class of Seniors yesterday, and the final question was: how will Social Media effect us upon graduation... I told them that if they used it properly it will help them find a job :)  Great minds.

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

Great post. Anyone looking for a job should read Nick Corcodilos' Ask The Headhunter column ---> http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2012/12/ask-the-headhunter-qa---set-10-1.html

 

He addresses a lot of what you're talking about around finding and interacting with companies you want to be a part of.

 

I have a question as well, would be curious to hear from anyone: I got a job the old fashioned way, entry level customer service and worked my way up. Because I'm in a fairly back end position (Operations, project management) my online and work lives don't meet very often. My presence on social media (mostly Twitter & blogging) skews towards the personal. I'm a decent writer and try to be thoughtful, so while some of it is not stuff I would talk about at work I don't think (or at least hope) it wouldn't be a negative to any potential future employers.

 

So here's the question part - Should I have a separate "social media self" for my professional interests? I've thought of having another blog, that makes sense to me, but does it make sense to have another Twitter handle? Should I connect the two?

clarade
clarade

What a great post. I believe that following companies and potential employees is soon going to be pre-requisite for everyone. Following the company will help identify its strengths (and weaknesses) and following a future employee can do the same. Great post!

Matt_Cerms
Matt_Cerms

Gini, this post brightened up my morning. And here is why...

 

I was talking to a buddy over the weekend who is a Com/PR major and is getting ready to graduate next semester. He asked me, what do you suggest I do to get my name out there for jobs. I mentioned to him that he has to establish a personal brand online.

 

Not just LinkedIn, which is important, but too many people put their eggs just in that basket. I told him to fire up a Wordpress blog, start writing, and start connecting with industry folks on Twitter.

 

So, I'm loving the timing of this post and what it stands for. And when he asks me again about this stuff -- I can show him Spin Sucks! Boom.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @writingrenee I LOVE this story. I also love that you were an English teacher. I have an English degree and learned a ton from my high school teacher. Love that you've been able to translate that experience to Business2Community. Awesome story!

Latest blog post: The Three Things, Edition 11

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @giesencreative You are definitely on the right track and I've been loving seeing you here lately. What you're doing is not only actively connecting with the scene in your city, but with the scene online. And people are interested to know who you are so we check you out. BTW, nice blog post on mobile marketing. 

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @kateupdates The interesting thing about you and me is we met in person first. But I have a MUCH better understanding of who you are and what you do because of the web. Without social, I would send you an occasional email or card and we'd maybe see one another again. But we certainly wouldn't "talk" every day.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @barrettrossie We never would have been able to go virtual without technology and I certainly never would have met Lindsay or Allen or Joe or Nick or anyone else who works with us and not in Chicago. It's very expensive to hire someone and move them to a new city. But, with technology, we can work with the very best and compete with the companies who have budgets to move people.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @jennimacdonald  It's like anything else, right? You don't have overnight success - you work for it. You don't make money overnight - you work for it. You don't write a book overnight - you work for it. There is no such thing as something just landing in your lap.

giesencreative
giesencreative

 @joecardillo I thought it was interesting that someone brought up the "who you know, not what you know" cliche in the comments. Nick responded with:

 

"You can't get a job based on what you know unless you know (or can meet) someone who needs what you know."

 

And I think that ties into the conversation we're having. It's not who you know, it's who knows what you know, and building a reputation online (and interacting with people at the companies you're interested in) gives you a way to prove your skill-set.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @joecardillo I've never believed you should have two separate accounts. You don't have two separate personalities and I think it's too hard to keep it all straight. If, for instance, we had you in the interview process, we'd take a look at the things you're doing online, even if they had nothing to do with your professional interests. It just gives people good insight into how you carry yourself online, which is very, very important in an organization like ours.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich moderator

 @clarade Exactly! Why wouldn't you want to have a better and deeper understanding of the companies you're interviewing with so you know whether or not they're a good fit for you? It seems like a no-brainer to me.

tressalynne
tressalynne

 @ginidietrich Absolutely, without a doubt! My office is separated from the my living space. I mean, it's in my house obviously, but a room that is not used for other purposes. When I'm in here, I'm working. I tell people I do what they do, I just have a shorter commute ;).  

giesencreative
giesencreative

 @ginidietrich I'm glad you liked it! Blogging is an attempt on my part to do... exactly what we're talking about, I suppose. The local scene seemed like a great way to establish the scope of my blogging project, and I guess it's helped me to engage with the larger scene online as well!

JoeCardillo
JoeCardillo

 @giesencreative That's been my experience also. I think a reality of the web when it comes to job searches is that there are a lot more people easily accessible that have the job experience employers want. But are they interacting/engaging in smart, realistic and efficient ways? Often they are not, IMHO

belllindsay
belllindsay

 @sydcon_mktg  @ginidietrich LOL LOL LOL!! In her defence, it's a pretty whirlwind trip - in and out - and we're getting tons accomplished! But yes, come to Canada!!! 

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