16 April 2009

Blogging Tips : How to Use Social Media to Land the Job of your Dreams

This interview was conducted by Monica O’Brien (@monicaobrien) from Twenty Set.

As the recession looms on, more and more people are turning to social media and blogs to look for jobs. Jamie Varon (@jamievaron) has generated buzz in the Twitter community with her new website called Twitter Should Hire Me, where she blogs candidly about her attempts to get a job at Twitter. In this interview, she shares her tips on how to use social media to land the job of your dreams, even in a recession.


What kind of reception have you received since launching Twitter Should Hire Me?

By the end of the second day that the site launched, I had received over 20,000 views. My Twitter following count has increased by almost 40% and I have forged relationships that I would not have otherwise had. There have been multiple write ups about my campaign and I have been contacted by my local news and some other news outlets that I can’t discuss. The Twitter community responded to my campaign in an overwhelmingly positive way. They were very supportive and it spread very quickly throughout people’s Twitter streams. At one point, I was the 70th most retweeted person on Twitter, among the top 100 with huge influencers such as Guy Kawasaki, Chris Brogan, and Pete Cashmore.

Sometimes the hardest part of finding a job is getting that initial interview. What steps did you take to get noticed by Twitter before starting Twitter Should Hire Me?

I had a connection recommend me to the hiring manager for an open position. I never heard back because the position was filled. I dropped in on the hiring manager at Twitter HQ to introduce myself and bring in some cookies (cheesy, I know). Then, a couple days after that, I emailed the hiring manager that I met. After not hearing anything back from any of those efforts, I decided it was time to do something a bit more extreme. That’s when I came up with the idea for Plus, I thought it would be fun to do something bold like that and thought it would be interesting to see the response.

How are you promoting your site and your job search?

I promoted my site primarily through Twitter. I thought that the strategy of getting to Twitter through Twitter would be an interesting one. I didn’t contact any Twitter representatives directly, because I wanted the site to get to them organically. As of right now, I am not promoting my job search anymore, because I might end up with too many things on my plate, so I’m backing off a little bit. However, I am adding blog posts every day to my Twitter site to now show that I have information and ideas to back up the site — and not just a good idea that attracted buzz.

You’ve garnered amazing support for your site from the Twitter community. Why do you think people have rallied so strongly around you?

I think it’s a great story about innovation in a time where a lot of people are struggling to get noticed by companies. There’s a sense of hope, optimism, and ambition in my message, which people are very much needing to see. We’ve been hit by a lot of negativity in the media lately and the message of someone continuing to believe in themselves and go for their dreams, even in the midst of this crisis, hit home for a lot of people. There has been this sense of, “take whatever you can get,” and people were happy to see someone who was still keeping the hope alive.

What have you learned from the site about using social media to get a job?

The power of social media is alive and strong. I have learned that if you have something worth sharing, people will share it. And, that if you genuinely want to build community, you will attract people. I think that a main reason for my success with this site was that I had built a great community before I launched the site. I had genuinely been using Twitter to connect with people and wasn’t trying to push any agenda on them. My biggest supporters were people that I had previously connected with on Twitter. They really set the tone for the campaign, because they responded positively and put the word out. In terms of getting a job using social media, I think what I’ve learned is that people will know if you have an agenda. Building relationships without any pretense is vital to being successful with connecting (and then eventually maybe finding a job) through social media. There has to be something real there initially.

What will you do if Twitter doesn’t offer you a job?

I have three job offers doing marketing - One PT social media marketing position actually gets me into the startup industry in a big way. This site has opened up tons of possibilities for me in marketing.

That’s the ticket: I wanted something in the creative departments of startups. So, I created something unique and marketed both it and myself. No matter what experience I put on the site (even though I am pumping a good amount of info into it), I have achieved what companies want: buzz. My uncle, out of the woodwork, called me and wants to hire me as a freelancer and throw $5000 of marketing budget at me. That just doesn’t happen in this economy.

Furthermore, if Twitter doesn’t hire me at this point, I hope to create a relationship with them and maybe the future will bring a partnership. I know I will be in the startup industry to stay, so even if there isn’t a place for me on the Twitter team at this point, it doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be a place for me in the future.

What advice would you give to people trying to get a job in social media?

If you want a job in social media, prove you can utilize social media without a paycheck. I recently was just asked to be a social media marketer for a company because I had spent the month I was unemployed building my own brand online. I didn’t wait for a company to give me a chance to prove I was successful within social media; I took it upon myself to let my actions speak louder than my words. If you can’t build your own brand (your blog or your Twitter, etc), then you can’t be successful in social media. And, companies will hire the person that has proven to understand social media, rather than the person who says they do.

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