Social media, get over yourself

Every morning, I check my Twitter, Google Reader and Facebook for my social media breakfast. They’re the best ways to get the most relevant news based on who I subscribe to and because of this, I trust shared links even when they don’t correspond with my immediate interests. One of my favorite wielders of social media is NPR—especially effective on FB—and they had posted a new story on applying for jobs in our digital age. In a nutshell: Résumés were out. Letters of inquiry, passé. If the companies they surveyed were any indication, employers now court a 10-12% of their employees via LinkedIn.

The same topic bookended my night. This time, it was News Hour with Jim Lehrer on OPB. There are now lay-off camps, and the instructor whose seminar was shadowed took it one step further: Not only were anything to do with paper apps a relic of the past, he was disgusted by them. FB and LinkedIn are the new matchmakers. Social networking is the way to go, and nothing else will suffice. From the sounds of it, anything else could be an indication of how unvaluable you are.

Yes, social media is useful. Generally speaking, LinkedIn and Twitter are probably the most useful: You’re encouraged to sell yourself. I’m not sure how Facebook comes in since it depends on reciprocal relationships, differs in privacy settings and is used more personally.

But my beef is this: Not only is Twitter your living business card (an apt way to think of it if you’re going to use it), but you better have a blog and whip up a following. The message is go all out. Blogs are coveted by employers because it’s the most insightful digital reflection of your savvy. Can you command an audience? Are you an innovative thinker? Do you use social media effectively?

Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere 2008 found the leading measure of success for bloggers to be personal satisfaction. Blogs are started for a glut of reasons, and all are legitimate. I haven’t compared the numbers lately, but back in 2006, the buzz was around Technorati Founder David Sifry‘s quote that the blogosphere doubled in size every six months. We all guessed this would slowly level off, but with the economic slump, more people–especially age 40+, have been taking more enrichment courses that they hope will help them land a new job. I’ve found this in my social media classes. It explains the focus on social media at the lay-off camps. But with blogs numbering in the hundreds of millions, it’s difficult to break into the bloggerati even if you are consistent with your posts, on-topic, insightful and crossposting. Consider this Willamette Week feature from 2004. Most of the blogs listed on here have faded away or rusted over the last five years now that the Internet isn’t so shiny anymore.

It’s not fair for consultants to be slamming résumés and letters of inquiry. Perhaps a printed sheet, a manila envelope is passé, but we all put our résumés on LinkedIn. A letter of inquiry is not only valuable in highlighting certain experiences but also in showing you’ve done your homework on the employer and your values align with theirs (hopefully augmented by your experiences). A PDF of your résumé as a digital submission is still your résumé. An email inquiry or LinkedIn inquiry is still a letter of inquiry. Digital tools are another iteration, a change of medium but not intent. Social media experts should be lighting their topic forte favorably rather than employing scare tactics.

Whenever someone I’m talking to brings up how overwhelmed they feel by social media, I tell them this: You don’t need to use it all. Wearing bangles, chokers, collars, necklaces, chains and rings on all fingers is not exactly tasteful. You just need to know why each social media tool is useful and choose the right ones for you. Anything else would be inauthentic, and who wants to break that all-important mandate of social media?

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2 Responses

  1. Ben says:

    I liked reading this on Relationship Marketing:

    Also, read the part on social networking in this:

    In my opinion, it’s just a shitty economy that is going to upset the profligate 20-something culture. Move back in with your folks and hang out with your other unemployed friends. Unless you’re starting your own business, you aren’t going to fix the economy by landing a job. For people that actually *need* a job (because they have kids or family to support), don’t waste your time online: do some informational interviews with companies you like (do the research) and learn about the field—then send them physical thank you notes and follow up with them (which I guess you would call “social networking”). And spend quality time with your loved ones.

    Read “Bait and Switch” by Barbara Ehrenreich

    The main kerfuffle over this stuff is just a function of commercial media: “look for a job” is dog bites man. “look for a job using this fancy whizzbangs that you don’t know about but we’re the gateway for how they CHANGE YOUR LIFE…right after this commercial break” is what sells.

  2. Morgan Sully says:

    Agreed on this:

    “Digital tools are another iteration, a change of medium but not intent.”

    I think the internet is the new resumé. When I chatted with an org about hiring a VISTA, I said ‘look at their network’ – when you hire them, you also hire their network (

    I still think your handshake, eyes and social skills are the deal breaker. Be friendly, helpful.

    You certainly don’t have to use every tool out there, and I think by sitting with tools for a while you can innovate and turn your work with them into a craft.

    Building neat stuff for the web is always fun too and can also serve a a resume for what ever you might want to do.

    Ben has some great stuff with his Brompt and Panlexicon ( projects. I started We Operate Best Together and my Manifesto (

    Personally, I like to organize my goals around contributing to the Commons…

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