Why Social Media Will Not Get You A Job In A Recession

by Jason Falls |
Jason Falls
Jason Falls

I love the optimism springing forth from the social media evangelists. It’s almost like because we have social media, none of us “insiders” have to worry about tough economic times, losing our jobs or finding new ones. I’ve got news for you. Not only have social media advocates not had enough time in most organizations to illustrate the benefits of their positions, but the classically trained marketers and executives that are making hiring and firing decisions probably think the social media bible-thumpers are nuts.

Social media might be why you don’t keep your job in a recession.

Okay, so that’s a bit extreme. Blog Tip No. 173 from Falls: Don’t just say something. Say something incite-ful (notice the spelling).

No, I don’t think social media advocates are going to be the first laid off in a recession. But I would like to inject a dissenting opinion on the “social media will save you” bandwagon. Yes, having a strong personal brand and being well connected in the social media space is a good place to start to keep or find a job during tough economic times, but Twittering all day is not likely to get you hired.

Handshake by Aidan Jones on FlickrThe type of social networking that will save you or your job in a recession was, is and will always be the off-line kind.

Sure, there are anomaly examples out there of people getting jobs through Twitter conversations or connections on LinkedIn or Facebook, but let’s be honest. Most companies aren’t inside the tech bubble or hip to social media and wouldn’t think of hiring someone without a more traditional interview process. This means the social media job security utopia doesn’t exist for most of the free world.

So it all comes back to the good, old-fashioned grip-and-grin, the face-to-face, yes, dare I say, human contact, that will get you a job in a recession (or any other time for that matter.) The reason I know is that while on-line social networking is unbelievably powerful and empowering, the off-line networking is what sustains us and our businesses.

The Well-Networked Don’t Apply For Jobs, They Go Get Them

In 2006, I was a public relations professional, but in the high-walled silo of college athletics. Most folks in the mainstream heard what I did and thought, “What a joke. The guy watches ballgames for a living.” To boot, I lived six hours away from Louisville, where my wife and I wanted to return. I wanted to get out of college athletics and into mainstream marketing and public relations in a town where I had very few corporate connections or friends.

So I networked, but not on-line. Sure I solidified the LinkedIn profile (before most people knew what LinkedIn was), searched job boards and leveraged what few friends I had in marketing in Kentucky to get my name out there, but none of those put me at Doe-Anderson. What I did was pick up the phone and call people. I called everyone. Marketing managers, PR managers, HR directors, VPs, brand managers … If they were someone in Louisville and even remotely connected to the industry I was gunning for, they probably got a phone call from me.

And my approach was simple. Since I mostly got voice mail, I introduced myself, told them I was moving to Louisville and looking for opportunities and wanted to chat with them about the marketplace for their expertise and perspective. I asked them for 10 minutes on the phone, emailed them a resume and then followed up. While I didn’t do the math, I would say close to 85 or 90 percent of them not only responded, but spent 10 minutes on the phone with me chatting about jobs and companies in Louisville. I made a couple of trips and arranged for face-to-face meetings with several people on my list. Now, they not only had my resume, they knew who I was.

Within 60 days of starting my job search, I had five phone interviews, wound up with two face-to-face interviews and two job offers. Besides email, I didn’t communicate with a single person in my job search via social networks.

Now, to be fair, many of the now-recommended social networks job-related activity either didn’t exist, weren’t well populated or weren’t yet tapped for business purposes in early 2006. But if I were looking for a job today, I would go about it much the same way. Sure, I might use my connections in social media to reach people rather than using email. And, yes, I would be very open about looking for an opportunity which could lead to interest from hiring companies or managers. But the tried and true method of picking up the phone or meeting face-to-face will never be replaced by on-line communications in terms of putting an individual top of mind for a job opportunity.

And in the end, when I did land my job at Doe, even though I was the new guy in town, most of the people to know knew me.

Should you follow the advice of Rachel Levy, Mack Collier, Dan Schwabel or Michael Litman?(The British one, not the one who works at Doe-Anderson. He has an extra “t”.) Sure you should. But know and understand that all the on-line, behind-the-computer, cyber connections in the world don’t beat a hand shake, a smile and a chat.

IMAGE:Shaking Hands,” by Aidan Jones on Flickr.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).