Is social media the new resume?

Chris Hutchins thinks so. On Friday, May 1, 2009 I caught up with Chris, the founder of Laid Off Camp during a meeting of the networking and collaborative career resource at Blankspaces. I invited him to expand on a statement he made during an interview with Leo Laporte on  the March 8, 2009 TWiT.tv “This Week in Tech” show (where he was joined by Brian Shaler):

“Social media is the new resume.”

In response to his statement, I asked Chris the following questions which he answered in the video below:

  1. Why is social media the “new resume?”
  2. Does social media help represent a candidate in a more three dimensionally way? Can it give employers a fuller sense of who a candidate really is?
  3. Have you had an experience with a recruiter using 1.0 tools who could not adapt to the 2.0 landscape?
  4. Have you had any experiences with a firm that made an effort to understand you as a person, but were still ineffective?
  5. Are there certain industries for which social media is naturally a better fit?
  6. Is there greater risk or reward with using social media to reveal the “real you?” What is the role of an employer in that risk or reward?
  7. What is your long-term vision for Laid Off Camp?
  8. How can employers participate in and benefit from Laid Off Camp?

Chris was gracious enough to spend some time with me and very candidly addressed each of my inquiries:

With the passage of time, Chris is now working for Milk — a mobile application development company based in San Francisco, CA  — although Laid Off Camp remains a proud part of his professional past.  Update: On March 16, 2012 Chris announced via his Twitter account that Milk, and it’s staff, had been acquired by Google; Chris is now a product manager at Google.

Speaking of the passage of time, since this interview was originally recorded, social media has continued to evolve as an exceptionally viable means by which individuals can market themselves and secure full-time employment and/or contract work — in social media or other industries.

Notably, according to a recent LA Times article, a growing number of employers are hiring people to mange their social media presence. If you are curious to learn how businesses are using social media to recruit candidates, you might find this infographic from Mashable of interest.

One particularly active resource for social media positions is the crowdsourced Social Media Jobs Group on Facebook.  Another resource includes the Social Media Jobs account on Twitter.

Mashable also offers helpful advice about how to get a job using Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. If you’re not sure where to start, this Mashable article will teach you how to create an online resume with a website, videos, documents, and LinkedIn.

One recent humorous take on using social media to find a job involved Matthew Epstein donning a fake mustache in a creative and compelling effort to land a job at Google. Although his initial goal was not realized, his campaign garnered significant attention and helped get him hired as a product marketing manager at Sigfig, a web-based investment and financial management service.

Ironically, some criminals are also finding “jobs” using social media, so please be careful what you share online! Personally, I have been actively using social media since roughly November 2008 (I actually created my Facebook account a year earlier, but didn’t begin using it immediately).

Since that time the various social media tools and platforms — including Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn — with which I have experimented have helped me find several adjunct teaching opportunities.

I also launched a personal website with which I have consolidated my social media profiles while also offering a centralized resource through which I communicate who I am and the value I can add to any organization.

Additionally, this blog also provides a platform with which I can share knowledge while also promoting my skills to potential employers. Without question, social media has been a tremendous career enhancing tool!

In one such example, I was hired to teach marketing courses at UCLA Extension almost entirely because of a referral from Beverly Macy. Beverly is the CEO of Gravity Summit, a professional speaker and co-author of the book “The Power of Real-Time Marketing” (affiliate link). She also teaches a social media marketing class for UCLA Extension.

Beverly Macy and Matthew Gilbert at UCLA Gravity Summit on February 25, 2009

I first came to know Beverly on Twitter (in late 2008 or very early in 2009), just prior to the first Gravity Summit conference at UCLA in February 2009 (which I attended). Beverly and I later connected via Facebook in August 2009 and, in July 2010, she referred my resume to her contacts at UCLA.

After several months of administration and preparation I finally began teaching online the first of two courses with which I am now entrusted: MGMT X 460.394, New Media Marketing (Online). In the fall semester I added MGMT X 460.300, Consumer Behavior (on campus), to my repertoire. I anticipate continuing to teach these two courses for the foreseeable future and am very grateful for the privilege to do so.

Were it not for Twitter, I would have never come to know Beverly, and had I not come to know Beverly, I would have never had a chance to teach these classes.  I am forever grateful to Beverly, Twitter, and social media in general!

In what ways has social media played a part in your own career development and/or job search?


With graduation ceremonies in full bloom this time of year I felt inspired to resurrect a satirical commencement speech.

eKjoVZqjglI first wrote this in 1997, following a year of working surviving at my first “real job” in the corporate world after completing my BA in English from UC Santa BarbaraYears later, it still seems accurate and relevant (and is hopefully still even just a little bit funny).

Note that my use of parenthesis represents a pseudo-subliminal voice I imagined using while giving the speech — meaning, that the words within them would not be subliminal at all.

 

So, you’re graduating.

You’re about to make the transition from undergraduate (scourge of the academic world) to entry-level employee (scourge of the professional world) with typical, sentimental pageantry. Your family will cry with pride, your friends will smile with happiness, and you will anxiously await the commencement of the incredible future you were promised.

Unfortunately, after a final night of Dionysian revelry, you will awaken to a strange, frightening, and unfriendly world.  A world in which you must sacrifice all you hold dear for a paycheck, a world that strips you of your youthful vigor, a world in which a truck driver is paid more than a teacher, a world in which the glass is always half-empty.

You will become that which you had hoped never to be:  your parents!

Don’t get me wrong, the real world isn’t totally unbearable.  While there is always the potential for success, it will certainly not happen overnight.  It may not even happen after ten years.

And, unlike college, there is no margin for error. The blessing — and curse — of the real world, is that unlike college, there is no schedule to follow, and no way to know if you are around the corner from success, or if you have a long way to go.

However, it never hurts to have a little inside information to help you deal with the slings and arrows of reality. So, in an effort to provide a public service , I thought it may be interesting, or at the very least, mildly amusing, to compare the Pros of graduation with the Cons of the real world.

Pro:  Income. This is the most alluring benefit to graduation.  After years of surviving on ramen, an entire world of material possessions await your purchase.  You can pay your own way and make your own rules!

Con:  Expenses. Unfortunately, once you subtract a retirement contribution; medical co-payment; supplemental insurance; and state, federal, and local taxes, you will be left with very little.  Don’t forget living expenses, car payments, car insurance payments, gas, credit card debt, and the cost of other seemingly insignificant expenditures.  You will soon find yourself left with barely enough money to buy a couple of ties, a package of undershirts, and some dental floss! Don’t throw away that ramen just yet.

Pro:  You will no longer be crammed into tiny classrooms with smelly, annoying people. I can’t count the number of times I was forced to share a room built for 100 people with 150 or more (not including dogs, skateboards, bikes, and other obstacles).  Luckily, after graduation, you will finally rid yourself of these hideous conditions…or so you would think.

Con:  You will be crammed into a tiny cubicle with smelly, annoying people. Welcome to Cubeland!  Please keep your hands and feet within the box at all times, and prepare to speak in a muffled hush for what may feel like the next millennium.  You will be surrounded by fuzzy, four-foot high “walls” that wobble when you sneeze, and amplify anything you may attempt to whisper into your phone or to a co-worker.  Also, don’t be surprised if your phone calls, computer usage, and innermost thoughts, are monitored.

Pro:  No more wasted time. How many hours did you waste sitting in a miniature desk, forced to intellectually interact with responseless, disinterested people, whose idea of learning was to sample different brands of beer during class? How many Teaching Assistants did you have to tolerate as they droned on about the Jacobins and the Girondins or, if you were lucky, something called the “homosocial circle?” Well, new graduate, time is now on your side.

Con:  More wasted time. All right, so I lied.  Prepare for endless meetings — and meetings about meetings!  You will be surrounded by responseless, disinterested people, whose idea of learning was to sample different brands of cream cheese on their bagels at the weekly department meeting. Instead of listening to a Teaching Assistant, you will endure lengthy speeches about teamwork, synergy and, who can forget, having a sense of urgency!  Learn how to sleep with your eyes open.

Pro:  No more collegiate political correctness. During your undergraduate years you were coerced into replacing your standard language with an entirely revised vocabulary.  Let’s call it Unibonics (Political Correctness).  You were forced to intellectually regurgitate words and phrases like colonial imperialism, destructive consumption, capitalist oppression, words ending in “ism” and “geny,” and how could you forget, phallus.  Once you spin the tassel, you can truly expand your mind and cleanse the doors of perception.

Con:  More corporate political correctness. Okay, I lied again.  In our excessively litigious society we are no longer free to think, behave, act, or even ponder as we desire.  And what is the evil word that brought about this Orwellian nightmare?  LIABILITY.  In response to this litigation fascination, you will be subjected to a barrage of rules and regulations.  Everything from sexual harassment policies, to dress code standards that would make Mr. Blackwell proud.  Don’t trust anyone, and remember, if there’s no proof, deny everything.

Pro:  No more obnoxious professors and university employees. How many times have you paitently waited at a university office to settle a dispute, only to be turned away because the clock has struck twelve and everyone is off to lunch?  How many times has a professor treated you like an intellectual inferior, when it is you (or perhaps, your parents) who pay his or her graciously tenured salary?  How many times have the Parking Police cited you unjustly, or just rudely?  Fortunately, after graduation, you can blow a kiss goodbye to these insensitive buffoons.

Con:  More obnoxious supervisors, managers and vice presidents. Once you don your corporate monkey suit, you will become the target of surprisingly sadistic superiors.  While you may get along with your colleagues or even like your supervisor, when it comes to performance reviews, disciplinary action, or other work related issues, your manager is still your manager. Read up on Lao Tzu and prepare for war!

Pro:  No more academic sycophantic antics. From midterms to finals, term papers to homework assignments, it is made clear that your main purpose as an undergrad is to massage the egos of your professors and TAs.  Most professors demand total submission to their ideas, beliefs, and interpretations.  Contradicting them can result in a low, or non-passing grade.  Not surprisingly, most college graduates have never conceived of an original thought.

Con:  More corporate sycophantic antics. As you enter the real world, you will rapidly descend from the noble perch of intellectual investigation to the entirely insipid nadir of utilitarian unrest.  You will lose the ability to develop independent, creative thoughts, and will instead concern yourself with such trivial necessities as dry-cleaning, commuting, Day Planners, project timelines, voice mail, dry-erase boards, life insurance, and the like. Outside of work, you will become content watching television talk shows, the home shopping network, and other senseless drivel.

 

Despite the cynicism of this speech, it is not my intention to submerge your spirits.  Rather, I hope you won’t feel as surprised as was I.

Sure, we all must pay our dues, but that doesn’t mean you have to surrender your soul in the process.  I encourage you to understand and embrace the Stockdale Paradox:

“Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” 

 

This past week has been one of exceptional transition for me on multiple levels: physically, metaphysically, emotionally, personally and professionally. I am sure I left out a few other relevant words that also end in “lly” but you get the idea.

After realizing that an “employment experiment” into which I recently endeavored was not a fit for me, instead of postponing the inevitable, I made a conscious decision to recuse myself before things became untenable. After a reasonably painless, but seemingly too long final two weeks, my last day was this past Friday.

I am now filled with an empowering sense of pride and excitement. Interestingly, this feeling lingered in the back of my mind on and off for several months, but never found a conduit through which it could blossom. However, it began to emerge during New Student Orientation (NSO) at Fielding Graduate Unviersity and has been a constant undercurrent ever since.

UC Santa Barbara: 1109 North HallSomething about the experience really “flipped a switch” and confirmed to me that teaching is the path I need to pursue.  After NSO I felt as if I had to heed this call; nothing else would satiate it. I primarily see myself as a classroom teacher and secondarily in a corporate training role, although these two incarnations of the same concept are not mutually exclusive: I can envision serving in both capacities concurrently.

Beyond being inspired by the whole NSO experience on an emotional level, I also experienced tangible changes happening on a more physical level. There was positive energy in action. From connections I made during NSO to my interviewing with and being hired to teach at UC Santa Barbara Extension on the same day NSO ended,  there was a palpable energy in the air that finally seemed to be connecting all of the right dots for me. It was as if NSO — and by extrapolation Fielding — was a conduit of opportunity for me.

I have “gone out on my own” before, but my efforts were focused on a skill, not a strength — and that has made all the difference. During previous attempts I tried to stake my claim as a marketing consultant specializing in website design — and while I always had “some” work, I was never fully able to get into gear. And, even when I did get some kind of rhythm going, I wasn’t fully engaged by it. I still enjoy working on websites and see it as an incomparable medium for education, but now realize that my calling is not as a freelance web designer.

I am now committed to and focused on opportunities that seem to be continuously revealing themselves to me, recognizing how long I waited for this to happen and how fortunate I feel to finally be at this point.  Ironically, I enjoy teaching marketing and find some humor in the fact that it is where my interests still are. But, I realize now that with learning as my top strength, I need to focus on teaching as the expression of my intention.

When I initially made this decision, I had a few opportunities locked in, but it was far from a “safety net.” However, in just a few weeks, the stars and planets seem to be in alignment. I am again teaching online writing and communication courses for Axia College of University of Phoenix and will start teaching in the marketing professional certificate program of UC Santa Barbara Extension in January.

In the coming weeks I am expecting to be teaching writing and possibly business courses for another private university. I also plan to work with younger students in need of specialized instruction through Kaplan K12 Learning Services where I was invited on Saturday to participate in teacher training after an “audition” on Thursday! I still have a few other options in progress, and am just trying to be careful not to over-commit. After all, I still need time for studying of my own!

I think the icing on the cake came tonight when I went go get some books at Barnes and Noble where they gave me an “Educator’s Discount Card.” To paraphrase Pinocchio’s statement to Gepetto: I’m a real teacher now!