Social media as a job search tool? Sure I’d heard about it but didn’t really put much faith into it beyond employer/employee fact checking and social background research. By the time we had a position moving through our HR process in January I’d been contributing to studentbranding.com for a several months so I knew the networking expectations for both employers and candidates in the non-higher education arena. As such, I figured I didn’t have anything to lose by sharing news of our process on twitter.
While I had been engaged in the #sachat community not much came of this tweet (note no #sachat hashtag) until we progressed as a community into discussions on job searches, of course triggered by Ed Cabellon. Here is a sequence of tweets than ensued over the course of sixteen minutes.
As promised, when our position was finally approved right before #NASPA10 I sent a tweet sharing the news and our process from that point forward. I didn’t have a live link yet so several people requested the job description as a result of these tweets:
Several members of the #sachat and twitter community requested a job description after these tweets. Anyone who expressed interest in the position or had asked questions about the job, university and location via twitter was on the radar for us. As we progressed through the search, all search committee members, including me, unfollowed all of the twitter candidates to maintain the integrity of our process. Communication with candidates became more formal and traditional – email and phone – but by that point the networking had reaped its rewards.
Twitter can change the search process
While unexpected, twitter and the #sachat community fundamentally changed the search process by decreasing the size of an already small profession. Certainly candidates still had to successfully navigate the gauntlet of our search process but our knowledge of them through social media outlets was very informative.
As an employer our engagement on twitter, whether individually or through our office account, helped us put information in the public domain that we wanted to share about the future direction of our office and our work environment. Knowing that I was being followed by several candidates didn’t change how I interacted on twitter but it did reassure me that when we got to the point of fit questions that these candidates were probably better informed about us than those who were not accessing our information.
As a candidate you need to think through how you use twitter and what degree of access you want to provide. It can be hugely beneficial for employers to triangulate your professional perspective and network connections. On the other hand it can also be detrimental, particularly related to candidate authenticity and consistency in different settings if your interviews and application materials don’t align well with your presence in social media.
Social media expertise will be a required job criteria for all future searches
Our job description listed social media expertise as a preferred requirement. It became a more prominent factor in our search every step of the way as our discussions to balance expertise and needs within our office became more focused. In our next search social media engagement will be a required component.
In response to:
You may be asking:
Based on our candidate pool and how they identified their skill set as it related to our job description I would disagree that most people in gen-y have them in some form. Facebook doesn’t cut it anymore. That is now below the minimum – fan pages, connections, etc. Different institutions will measure social media skills differently based upon their needs and the expertise currently on staff. We were looking for someone who had the interest in and ability to give us traction in areas where we knew we needed to be engaged but were spinning our wheels – Facebook a bit, twitter, and blogs. (Again social media served as only two of thirteen criteria in our search process.) In particular, we were looking for a solid knowledge base of how to use twitter and, ideally, high quality engagement in the student affairs community and #sachat in particular.
Very few candidates provided social media information on their resume or in their cover letter (the best approach for me – hyperlinked to your profile in a PDF resume). Even some of the candidates we knew were on twitter didn’t identify that knowledge in their application materials. If you are engaged in the #sachat community your knowledge base sets you apart from the general student affairs community and you need to market that knowledge. Again, different institutions will measure social media skills differently based upon their needs and the expertise currently on staff but why make the hunt for that information difficult and allow employers to make inaccurate assumptions about your skill set?
In January I never would have guessed the impact social media would have on our search process. I’m a believer now though. Without getting into further details of our search I’d be glad to discuss your process as it relates to my perspective on social media and the role it can play in a successful search process for you.
What do you think? Make it a good day.
Mike Severy is the Director of Student Involvement and Leadership at UNC Pembroke. You can connect with Mike via Twitter.