Social Media is a wonderful thing. It allows us to keep in touch with family and friends, and allows us to fill our leisure time with frivolous websites (often for some reason including cats or sloths). The number of hours you can waste in your “free time” is truly astounding, pop onto YouTube to catch the latest Weird Al video and before you know it four hours have vanished. We’ve all done it in some form or another. But Social Media is also wonderful for networking.
It’s widely acknowledged that whether you are a freelancer or employed in a more conventional way, social media is a way of keeping up with your industry and meeting people. In the last few years there has been such an explosion that it’s virtually impossible to join every network and still have time to work. There is however one upside to social media that can’t be ignored…it can lead to employment.
Let’s concentrate on that first shall we?
I’ve been doing a little digging lately. During one of my “lost afternoons” reading through numerous business blogs (ok, the link isn’t to a business blog, it’s of Caithness but see…distracted!), I came across an article noting how people are using Twitter for finding work, mostly using hashtags. Yes, the place is like a giant water-cooler or staffroom, attracting people from all areas of business, meeting for an impromptu chat, and with these informal chats you often get the best leads and ideas. So I asked people over on Twitter, how many of them had actually found work through the site using hashtags. I did some research myself and found a lot of people use the #hireme hashtag, and also to a lesser extent #forhire. There were also a few #gizajob’s but I very much doubt that these resulted in any gainful employment.
#Freelance and #job seem to be widely used by people doing the actual hiring, and by mixing your hashtags you can narrow down your search to something more relevant to your needs. Don’t just take the “Top” listings, click on “all” and use the little cogwheel on the right-hand side to do an advanced search, and you don’t always need put in the hashtag, but its nice if you do. Of course you have to search frequently to avoid those old and out of date jobs, and you will get other conversations but it makes for interesting reading.
Be warned though, at the moment it seems as though the majority of companies advertising their posts via Twitter like this are American, and/or IT based. I wonder if this is because America is more upfront about what it wants and knows how to get it, and the IT crews are obviously utilising IT to get what they want?
So…did any of my contacts find jobs? Erm, yes actually, and it came down to two main ways – recruitment agencies and companies advertising their jobs via their twitter feed, which were then found either by accident or by being followed, and through relationships built up through interacting with “followers”. The main way seems to be by freelancers talking to their peers or industry co-workers, then getting leads or being offered work. If you build up a relationship that is mutually beneficial then you are more likely to be seen and offered work. And of course you can let people know you have a gap in your schedule.
So, if you are looking for work the best thing is to make yourself seen, don’t be shy and build a rapport with your industry.
But there’s also a downside to the Twitter / Work relationship.
Now, we’ve all seen the negative side of mixing business and pleasure. When it makes the national news…someone says something totally stupid and, before you can think up a quirky #hashtag, the offending tweet has gone viral, is splashed all over the papers (both online and in print) and the offender is swiftly removed from his or her post or has to write a grovelling apology and delete their account. Most of the time it’s just an off the cuff comment that gets blown up, but it can be devastating for the person involved.
When using Social Media you have to be aware that we live in a time where boundaries are blurred. There is nowhere to hide. Don’t for a minute think that if you have a “personal” account as well as a “business” one, that those stupid, idiotic, drunken tweets won’t be seen by your employers (or… shock, horror… potential employers). They will, whether they let on or not.
We’re all human, and we all say stupid things some times. But can you honestly say that you have never Googled someone, or looked at their Twitter profile to see what they are really like… especially if you want to work with them? Employers do that too!
I like to think that in the days of Social Media we are more approachable… but it also means we are living in a virtual goldfish bowl.
So if you are looking for work, or just interested in what’s out there here’s a few simple tips:
Treat Twitter like a virtual staff-room – and remember every staff room has its nosy-parker, its snitch and its go-to-guy or gal.
Tweeter beware – think before you tweet
Be pro-active – they’re not going to know you are looking for work unless you tell them.
Be friendly – you never know where a relationship will lead.
Be yourself – let people see the loveable, hard-working, employable you.