I hate the term “social media”, but I didn’t really want to write a post entitled “How to Use Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, social networking, Google Search, Craigslist, and other Web sites to Get Hired.” It just didn’t have a good ring to it.
The last time my consulting firm put out a job opening (on Craigslist and LinkedIn) we received a few hundred emailed resumes. We phone-screened about 25 of these resumes (and I left some advice for the other 375), met 8 people in person, and hired none of them.
As the firm is hiring again (haven’t listed it yet, but similar to this description), I thought I’d give some tips to anyone out there in need of a job. First, pay more attention to the Jobwire from RWW and WebWare “spreadsheet of sunshine” (as opposed to the doom-and-gloom purveyors, who aren’t really helping anybody with their efforts). Second, look for jobs on craigslist and LinkedIn, they are excellent resources.
Braindead Easy Stuff
These are the things you’re supposed to be doing. In other words, if you come in my office and haven’t done all of this, you will not get hired.
- Read the last 2-5 entries of the company blog and/or press releases.
- Do a Google Search, Google News Search, and Google Blog Search for the company.
- If the company makes a product, read reviews of that product, and be familiar with its current prices, offerings, etc. If the company makes many products, be generally familiar with them. Use Amazon to see user ratings of product(s).
- Check to see if the company uses any social networking services (e.g. MySpace or Facebook Fan page), communities, twitters, etc. If so, read through some recent content.
- If the company has a page that profiles employees, read about them. Ditto for a “clients” page.
- Be very ready to talk about what the company specifically does as a business! One of my first questions tends to be “so what do you think we do here?”, and while I don’t expect anyone to say it as well as I would, I expect them to roughly get it.
- Make sure all your “social profiles” are job-ready. Get the photos of you throwing up at the frat party off your MySpace page, and make sure your last few blog posts, twitters, and status updates aren’t embarassing. While you should always “be yourself”, you don’t necessarily need to be all of yourself all the time (hint: it’s like dating – I didn’t tell my wife-to-be that I waited in line for 7 hours to see LOTR the first midnight showing on our first date).
Here are some simple things you can do that will probably help your chances with any interviewer. None are mandatory, but help a good candidate stand out from the dreck.
- Comment (thoughtfully – don’t just suck up) on a recent blog post. No need to leave a comment on all the blog posts, but one or two is a good move.
- Try to get a list of who you might be meeting with before you come in. Read their Facebook and LinkedIn pages before the interview. Caution: don’t be stalkery, and if you don’t know the difference, you probably should skip this one.
- Figure out if any of the people you are interviewing with blog, and if so, read it too!
- If the company has a Web service, use it before you come in (that one’s probably a given). Have some feedback to share (and it doesn’t have to be all rosy and good either).
Double Ninja Maneuvers
These are the things that I think can make a difference, but must be handled differently for every situation.
- Send a Tweet to the company’s twitter account (or individual’s) before/after your interview. There’s no “rule” to the content, but a cleverly handled message can be impactful.
- Thank everyone you met by email. You could send written cards too, depending on the length of interviews (I wouldn’t do it for someone you only spent 10-15 minutes with). If you go down this path, your window of opportunity is 1 day, anything later is a big procrastiFAILnation.
- Write a blog post about the interview. Again, proceed with major caution, as any misstep here can cost you an opportunity. That said, if you handle it right, it could also bring you the attention you want to show why you deserve the job.
- “Follow” someone on any business or pseudo-business social sites. Good ones: Twitter (and other microblogging sites, even though nobody else actually uses them), FriendFeed, Digg, Upcoming, Google Reader. Bad ones (more explanation below): Facebook, Last.FM (unless, of course, you are interviewing at a music-oriented startup), Flickr (ditto), etc.
Oh No You Didn’t!
Here are a couple of things you really shouldn’t do, either due to inappropriateness or other potential backlash.
- Don’t “friend” someone. It’s perfectly fine to add anyone you meet as a LinkedIn contact, but unless you know, for sure, that someone treats Facebook “friends” as a list of anyone/everyone they’ve ever encountered, don’t cross this potentially bad line. By the way, sending a message via Facebook isn’t a bad thing – but then again, you do have their email address…
- Make any negative remarks about the company/employees, in any digital environment, anywhere (and yeah, that includes email and IM). If you felt the guy/gal you interviewed with was “a total tool”, that’s just fine, and you can tell your buddies in person and out loud, as opposed to in writing. You’d be amazed how easily an email can get forwarded. By the way, I’d also advise against ranting in public, this town of technology companies is really, really small, and you never know who you’re sharing a bus ride with.
I hope this is helpful. For those who didn’t pick up on the recurring theme, it goes something like this: use the Internet to thoroughly research companies and individuals you are going to interview with, and mildly engage with them before and after the interview. Then again, if that wasn’t obvious by now, you probably don’t want to interview with me.
Thank you for a comprehensive list of things to do (and not to do) if you want a job and you also use Social Media. I think this is useful information for everyone who uses Twitter, Facebook etc. even if they are not actively looking for work at the moment.
Your article is one of the best I have ever encountered that thoroughly prepares an applicant psychologically for a job interview.
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Thanks for the advice. Pay attention, people! Take down that picture of you winning a wet t-shirt contest while simultaneously taking a jello shot off your dog! You’ll regret it in the end, if you don’t already.
As a college student, I see my peers neglecting to prepare everything they do online before interviews. Too many times we think that employers “understand” the different between using social media for fun and work, when in actuality they see it as how we act in a professional environment. One dumb tweet and we could not get an interview.
This is a great post and I will be passing it on. Thanks!
I love giving presentations and speaking to large groups of people. I feel infinitely more comfortable with a hundred or so pairs of eyes staring back at me than I do with one or two pairs in a job interview. With that said, I love the challenge of interviewing, trying to demonstrate the perfect balance of humor, rapport and passion that will make an impression without seeming rehearsed or insincere.
Over the next few weeks I will, hopefully, be given the opportunity to practice my balancing act for companies that excite and inspire me. Your advice in this post will be at the top of my mind during these interviews, especially if you’re one of the pairs of eyes.
Awesome post! Social media is being using by everyone from students to presidential nominees. People need to be ready to take on the advantages as well as the consequences [forwarded emails, inappropriate photos] that come with using Twitter, Facebook, etc. It’s not just a social “let’s-be-friends-on-Facebook” site anymore.
And of course, thanks for the great tips on job intreview preparation!
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Great advice, Jeremy! As you can see, I’m taking it! It’s definitely the little things that count in such an overwhelming job market. Because it’s so easy to just go online in your pajamas and apply for jobs over the internet people neglect to pay attention to the details of the employer requests and often get overlooked. Thanks for the heads up!
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