SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2011| PDF | Subscribe | Homei

Emerging Me-dia
A personal social-media strategy is essential to career success.

The other day, I was at the checkout stand and I asked myself: “Do I need a pack of gum?” I didn’t really need the pack of gum, but I thought it would be nice to have one — not to mention that I would save 10 cents if I used my rewards card. It always feels good to save money.

It occurred to me that I go through a similar process in my work as a human-resources recruiter — except that the “stores” are social-media sites like LinkedIn, and the “packs of gum” are resumes. For employers looking for the right person to fill a job position, social media in many ways are the points of “purchase,” albeit without the rewards cards.

Granted, most of us hate the idea of looking at ourselves as a product, or object — and that’s a good thing. However, you have to face the facts: If you don’t sell yourself as well as the next person, you won’t get the job — especially in today’s job market. In the “store” of job candidates, you want to make sure your information is easy to read and points prospective employers to your relevant experience.

As a human-resources recruiter, my first impression of candidates often comes from their online profiles. Social media is a great way for employers to get to know candidates. An employer looking at a prospect always wonders, “Is this candidate well-suited for our company values, team, environment, and overall culture?” First impressions matter — they matter a great deal. I will go through hundreds of applicants per opening, and if you don’t sell me right away I won’t make the decision to move you along in the interview process. You will never get a call.

It shouldn’t surprise you that I primarily use LinkedIn and Facebook for my social-media recruiting efforts. The 750 million active Facebook users, and more than 100 million professionals using LinkedIn, make my job a lot easier. I’m not alone: Ninety-five percent of companies using social media for recruitment use LinkedIn. It’s probably hard for you to get your mind around these numbers. To give you an idea, if the Facebook population were a country, it would be the world’s third largest. These numbers are powerful.

Through these networks, I have the ability to communicate with top talent. Social media also reach talent that may not actively be looking for work. It’s the perfect tool to use for the hard-to-fill positions because it allows us to reach those whom we never used to be able to contact. Through social media, recruiters are able to reach out to the masses — not to mention that the social networking “approach” is inexpensive, and provides the necessary tools to sort through applicants efficiently and quickly. Using LinkedIn and Facebook not only takes recruiting back to its grass roots of networking, but also takes it to an unprecedented level.

There are, however, places to look for future employees other than on Facebook or LinkedIn. Emerging media, with its new ways of interacting digitally, have given us many modes of communication channels and marketing forums. Displaying that you possess the ability to navigate and appropriately position yourself within these forums makes you an ideal candidate — just because I know you can use them. This is changing what employers are looking for in talent. If candidates don’t engage in emerging media, they won’t be able to help come up with innovative marketing campaigns after they are hired. It would be like asking a person who doesn’t drive how they feel about gas prices.

Much of the resistance to social media is based on a fear of new technology. This is understandable because it is natural to resist and fear change. But emerging media is not about technology — it’s about people. The desire to communicate effectively has motivated millions of people to learn the new technologies that enable that communication.

Let’s not forget that great marketing campaigns also come from people. Being good at marketing has a lot to do with being a good consumer yourself. If you cannot manage a Twitter account, or if you only use your smartphone to make a call, there’s going to be a problem.

Change and Thrive

Even if you’re not looking for a career move, it is still crucial to have a personalized social-media strategy. The media world continues to evolve and it doesn’t matter if you’re a manufacturer, retailer, agency, or a human-resources professional like me. The question still is: Are you making changes today so your business can thrive from social media?

Emerging media is a platform for innovation, and it’s a mode in which we all live our lives now. Digital media affect decision-making and offline behavior. One in five couples meet online. Eighty-three percent of adult Americans use social media and 45 percent have woven social media into their shopping. Ninety-three percent of social shoppers have received a coupon or promotion offer from a friend. This is great — especially because 90 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations while only 14 percent trust advertisements.

You literally can no longer afford to think that social media is “not my thing.” As a consumer, you’ll be losing money; as a prospective employee, you’ll be passed over; and on a much larger scale as a business owner, you will lose touch with your customers. Don’t you want to join the conversation if your customers and stakeholders are debating online about your product? Of course you do! It is important to enter into a dialogue, especially if it’s about you.

How can you have an honest conversation with your customers and associates if you don’t show up? Today, people expect to be spoken to directly and honestly because, frankly, it’s not that hard to do anymore. Having an honest dialogue on social-media forums allows your organization and leaders to communicate rather than having a one-way advertising communication. Social media will help you create a true company culture that can translate into true in-store connectivity.

For example, let’s take Best Buy’s Twelpforce. Best Buy has expanded its “Geek Squad” concept by leveraging Twitter to connect with its customers. You’re at home and your lap-top freezes, and all you have to do is tweet for help. Let’s not forget, you can do this on your smartphone (remember: your lap-top is frozen). This is a way to lower costs for Best Buy — yet hit the mark with high customer satisfaction.

Twelpforce is a great idea and it relates very well to my area of expertise — I want to be the guy who hires a person who thinks of something like Twelpforce. That is the kind of person I want to come across my radar. We all know that emerging media enable us to listen and respond to our customers and associates. We now have the ability to work with our customers and associates on things such as product development, message development, and culture creating.

We are able to build long-term relationships that are based on authenticity and trust, which is why, at the end of the day, it is critical to have a social-media presence that speaks to who you are — “you” being an employee, or “you” being a business. This will not only open doors for you professionally, but will also allow you to be part of the decision-making that is going on about your personal brand. Proactively influence customers with respect to what they are saying about you and your brand. Give them positive experiences that will drive them to the point-of-purchase and buy your brand.

Look, if the President of the United States can try to iron out issues via Twitter, you can use LinkedIn to get yourself a job — and then I can hire a person who can keep tweeting until someone buys gum. By the way, I did buy that pack of gum.

DAVID HOLLINGSWORTH is an executive search partner at Integrated Marketing Services, with responsibility for creating candidate search strategies for shopper-marketing positions. Email:

SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2011| PDF | Subscribe | Homei