Social Media – the #HireMe #FireMe water-cooler effect

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?

watercooler, businessman, businesswoman, business

#digdeeper

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 Of course you have to search frequently to avoid those old and out of date jobs, and you will get other conversations but it makes for interesting reading.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.

twitter bird

#WatchYourMouth

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!

Oops! Road Sign with Dramatic Blue Sky.

#TwitterTips

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Tweeter beware – think before you tweet
  3. Be pro-active – they’re not going to know you are looking for work unless you tell them.
  4. Be friendly – you never know where a relationship will lead.
  5. Be yourself – let people see the loveable, hard-working, employable you.

Two sides to every story

Gone Girl

by Gillian Flynn

gone girl

Ok, so this book is now in paperback and seems to be THE book to be seen with at the moment, if you believe the hype. I was lucky enough to get an advance copy way back when the Hardback was still unavailable to most people. It was a departure from a lot of the books I’ve read, but that’s what reviewing is all about…get a book, any book and give it a chance (and an honest review).

So why should you give this one a chance?

When I first started reading this book I expected it to be a run of the mill crime / thriller. I was hoping it wouldn’t turn out to be a formulaic whodunnit, there are enough of those on the market already, but thought it would be an entertaining enough read.

The story centres around a high-flying American couple, she’s the heiress to a literary fortune, he’s a career journalist; both lose their jobs and subsequently move from New York to his home town in Missouri, open a bar and settle down. But it all goes wrong in the opening chapters as she goes missing on the morning of their fifth wedding anniversary.

open journal

The book is seen from two different perspectives, his and hers. While we follow Nick Dunne through the days after his wife’s disappearance, we follow her story through her diary entries leading up to it. Not as confusing as it sounds. Nothing is ever as it seems though, I won’t put spoilers here but this is not a cut and dried case. As readers we are along for the ride and can only get hints through the couple themselves – from his narrative and from her diary.

We are witness to Nick’s quest to find out what happened to his wife, dogged by suspicion and determined to find the killer, while her diary entries lead up to The Day. But is he actually the killer and not just an innocent husband trying to find out what happened?

crime scene

If you like a good thriller you will love this book, its characters are intricate and interesting… and real, you step inside their heads and see both sides of the story…but like a good conversation you only get what the other side is willing to reveal until they decide to tell you more. This is a classy read and has led me to look at Flynn’s other books, but I’ll definitely be reading this again to see what I missed the first time.

It’s sassy, it’s clever, there are twists and turns that get you thinking.

All in all this is a very enjoyable read; had I seen it in a bookshop (remember those?) I may not have picked it up if I’m being brutally honest. But I’m so glad that I was in the lucky position of being sent a review copy. And don’t listen to all the hype about it being the new Fifty Shades…if it is it’s only because this should sell as many copies, if not more… if you are expecting really bad erotica I’d steer clear of this book, it’s on a whole different level.

If you like a good thriller you won’t be disappointed with this one.

When you’re working, but you don’t really think you’re working

(subtitled: When CPD eats into the wee small hours)

It’s all too easy these days to work the work, without actually realising you are working.

Work isn’t just about working for clients (although that’s the main aim, obviously), it’s about working for yourself if you are freelance, and one thing I have found is that sometimes it’s easy to discount work that doesn’t feel like work.

Does that make sense?

Ok, let me start again.

Caution - work in progress

I’m an Independent Word Wizard (well, Witch just didn’t sound right), in reality I work freelance although I’m still not sure what I think of that word. I work with clients who decide that they would like to work with me, and I work with clients that I decide I would like to work with. It’s mutually beneficial and I love it. Work also involves all the usual paperwork… you know the boring stuff, accounts and the like.

But, then there is also Professional Development… this invariably involves courses, training, reading, observing and networking. And this is where things can fall down.

Something struck me the other day, and it may seem obvious to others, but it came as a bit of a revelation to me.

I had a day off…

I’d finished a couple of pieces of work, and had some free time. So instead of doing the normal “day off” things – you know, housework, that pile of washing that was starting to morph into a laundry monster, emptying the dishwasher – I sat in front of the computer and read a blog… then read another, and another, did a bit of social networking, then read another blog or two. All industry blogs, not a grumpy cat in sight. Plus then I sat down to a lovely book written by Louise Harnby.

Before I knew it, the day had gone. I’d read some interesting stuff but at the end of the day I thought I may just have wasted my time off.

Thinking about it, this is a regular occurrence. I can get attached to the laptop. On an evening, the laptop is on… I’ll be reading as I’m watching some equally interesting telly programme… watching a documentary on Egyptology while reading a publishing blog is nothing new. I am woman, I multi-task.

laptop

But, it dawned on me that what I’m doing is valuable.

This doesn’t affect my work, as I don’t feel like I’m “working” just surfing. In fact I didn’t think I was working… until I read a blog that told me, yes I was working.

So, should it actually be thought of work if you enjoy what you are doing? … erm, actually, yes. If you are lucky, you spend your time enjoying your work but I’ve come to the conclusion that we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t realise that any time spent “with the trade” is actually work.

It won’t make any difference, I will still be reading a blog, or a piece of coursework, or a news story at some ungodly hour. But from now on, when people ask me what I’ve been doing, I won’t dismiss it as playing on the internet, or whiling away my time avoiding “stuff that must be done around the house”… I will remind myself that I have been networking, or reading up on the industry, or researching, or listening to what my peers are saying.

time

My time is valuable to my clients.

But it is also valuable to me, so I should accept that doing what I love is still work. I’m just lucky that I love my work, and perhaps I should remember to take some time off every now and then. No, honestly, really take time off. Turn the laptop off and switch off the email.

Come on now, own up… how many of you fellow freelancers recognise this situation?

As a final note, just as I’d finished writing the blog this came up in the Freshly Pressed list. It’s a very interesting read. There’s a fine line between loving your work, working hard and burn out. We all should remember, even the freelancers, that time off is important… even if work is interesting sometimes you have to remember to step back, after all the CPD will still be there tomorrow and weekends should be fun.

Have wonderful and unproductive weekend everyone!