I was really happy when Valerie Simon (@valeriesimon) and Arik Hanson (@arikhanson) approached me to participate in Help a PR Person Out (#HAPPO). What a wonderful way to share information and to help PR professionals with the job search by organizing an upcoming Twitter event. The goal: to help PR job seekers locate the numerous PR jobs that are finally becoming available.
I started thinking about all of the interviews I’ve conducted with public relations professionals who were seeking jobs over the years. It’s hard to say how many people, in the last 12 years, visited with me to discuss a position with my agency. Whether it was 50 or 250, one thing was consistent pre- social media. Somehow that little newspaper advertisement (and later it was an ad on Monster.com) didn’t always match the right person for the position or my agency’s culture.
If you’ve ever interviewed someone for a position, then you will know that most people come in with a big smile, a strong handshake and a great resume based on a wealth of experience. But, it’s often very difficult to know whether someone will be a cultural match for the company. A paper resume and a couple of interviews just isn’t enough to make that determination.
There were PR professionals with excellent communications skills, wonderful strategic planning practices and great pitching tactics, but they didn’t work out because the agency environment really wasn’t what they wanted or the personality of the company wasn’t what they expected! With social media, this is very different today. Even before the job interview, as an employer, you get a very good feel of this person’s background, experience and personality. Social media allows you to see beyond a piece of paper and a casual interview, to get a better feeling of just who will be joining your team. And, as a job candidate, you can really do your homework to see if the company has the personality and culture that’s right for you. The job candidate can also learn a tremendous amount about a company just by researching its Twitter feeds, Facebook wall or YouTube videos (activity or no activity can say a lot).
I’ll tell you a little personal experience, with a job hire, which resulted directly from my conversations on Twitter. We were gearing up for a large account at my agency and we needed to find a senior project manager who would be able to handle a large client, travel, coordinate all web and social media PR efforts. The position required someone with a strong personality, who needed to be outspoken. I sent out a quick tweet that said something like, “Looking for a senior account manager to handle a large account.” Within two minutes my new employee was tweeting back (of course I didn’t’ know that he would be my new employee at the time).
We took the conversation to DM and then email. It was so easy for me to see his personality, and his communication style, both as a person and professionally. As we began to talk, I remember he said to me, “You may want to check out my blog…I’m pretty outspoken.” And, yes, I did check his blog and he was, but this is exactly what we felt our agency needed. In addition, LinkedIn and Facebook provided me with more information but the blog was his biggest selling point. I knew that this was the right person. And, to this day I’m thankful for social media!
Social media saved me so much time and effort in the interview process. I found a new employee who was a great addition to our agency and never had to wonder if he would fit in with my quirky, fun and creative staff. At the same time, he was able to do his homework to research my work and my company through social media to know that this position was a good fit for him too.
I’ll be using the same interview process moving forward. This process reinforces how important it is to consider how we appear in our social media outreach. Of course, in addition to our experience and professionalism, we always want our personality to shine through. In this particular case, it landed a very happy PR person a senior account manager’s position and made this agency owner really happy!