[Land of Spin] The Job Hunt: TwitterShouldHireMe.com and Other Tricks of the Trade

Fortune Magazine’s April 13, 2009 edition has an article on Jamie Varon, who built a website called TwitterShouldHireMe.com as part of her job hunt campaign to get – guess who – to hire her. She also writes a blog called “intersected ."  Her Twitter job campaign site apparently has spawned a host of imitators (googleshouldhireme.com, Facebookshoulehireme.com, etc.). [Update: Varon has also just launched a new blog site called "Shatterbox – The Way of Standing Out and Changing the World." No word yet on any follow-up book or movie.] [Update 2 : Also see "Tweeting Your Way to a Job " from the NY Times.]

Her approach is a creative way to get noticed by a company. And like a football Hail Mary pass (see an example here ), it’s great if it works, and not-so-great if it doesn’t.

The twittershouldhireme.com approach replaces, in former decades with different technology, things like singing telegrams, courier delivery of resumes, billboards, sandwich signs, and spam faxes. All are really good when they work, and really bad when they don’t.

When I ran staffing at Barclays Global Investors as a second role to my regular “day” role as a senior HR type, there was a word for people who were overly relentless in trying to get hired at the firm: “stalkers”. And before an applicant tracking system was installed and there was a central database of people, BGI recruiters would routinely discover that the candidate they had just referred to one job had interviewed unsuccessfully with four or other roles with the firm.

As I wrote in a recent post on kindergarten applications (and what, might you ask, do kindergarten applications have anything to do with jobs ), getting noticed IS helpful provided you have the underlying qualities that are considered important. If you have the skills, then that extra attention can get you popped to the top of the proverbial resume pile. But if you don’t have the attributes folks are seeking, it can seem pushy, aggressive and offensive – and get you blacklisted.

If enthusiasm is one of those significant role or cultural criteria, going expressing it as Jamie did is great way to have that characteristic shine through, and something that Southwest Airlines ,  for example, assess in their job interview simulations because they believe parts of attitude such as enthusiasm are such a critical element of being successful with customer passengers.

Like the one person you know who submitted a resume online and got hired, I’d venture that the statistical percentages behind the a Jamie Varon type approach is low to very low, with a couple of supporting reasons. First, though many companies say they value creativity and innovation, they do – just not in some of the functions that are considered business basics liking hiring, tax, legal, accounting, and facilities. For every creative person that gets hired there are probably ten people whose creativity was experienced by hiring managers or recruiters as craziness: it mostly is, after all, a business.

Second, sometimes you know too much about a person, and you eliminate them as a prospect because of this added knowledge brought by attention getting approach. I chuckled recently when the CEO of an organization for whom I was vetting trustees candidates sent me a Facebook shot of the home page of one of the candidates. Like Barack Obama’s speechwriter Facebook photo caught groping a lifesize cut-out of candidate Hillary Clinton, sometimes you come across things in the public domain you wish people had better sense to post.

I hope Jamie does well at Twitter or wherever she lands. Her approach is refreshing and creative at a time when many people and candidates aren’t.

And for those of us who are not creative as Jamie, doing the basics such as getting clarity about what you offer, where it’s needed or best applied, doing your research, and building and working your personal network as noted in the Choose Me, Hire Me! series on this site, and as recommended by the leading job hunt experts, is likely still your best approach. It does not hurt to try different things when the tried and proven does not work,  but I’d try the tried and proven first, not last, before I got out my wild and creative.

Land O’Spin is an occasional set of writings focused on best practices in coaching and assessment: how do take what you observe, know what it means, and draw conclusions about what outcomes will occur in the future.