Posted by: Douglas MacMillan on October 20
Editor’s note: In this review series, BusinessWeek.com staff writer Doug MacMillan will try out the latest tools designed to help you stand out from the pack in today’s cutthroat job market. Check in every three weeks for a thorough test-run of a different job hunting tool, from high-tech applications – like job search engines and resume builders – to books and blogs written by top career gurus. If you know of a great job hunting tool Doug should check out, let him know. This week: using a favorite tool of online advertisers to get exposure for your resume.
Exposure to people in specific companies, locations, and industries; high potential for word-of-mouth help with hiring process; shows job candidate as proactive and creative
Costs money; more likely to reach younger, lower-level employees not involved in hiring; requires a very specific job target to be successful
THE BOTTOM LINE
Though largely unproven, it’s a simple and fairly cheap way for a job candidate to make contacts through the back door of the company of their dreams
Those of us familiar with online social network Facebook have heard the warnings: be careful who you friend, what pictures you post, and what messages you write, because your future employer might be watching. A recent Careerbuilder.com survey confirms that nearly a quarter of hiring managers have used an online social network to research job candidates. So yes, Facebook can get your job application rejected, or worse, get you fired.
Here’s the good news: Facebook can also get you a job.
Over the summer, Willy Franzen launched an experiment to test this hypothesis. On his career blog, One Day, One Job (a must-read for anyone who regularly visits this blog), he solicited volunteers for an unorthodox job hunt. Participants would place ads on the right-hand rail of Facebook pages with their photo and short, attention-grabbing copy, like “I Want to Work for Disney.” When someone clicked on the ad, it would take them to a personal blog, an online resume, a LinkedIn profile, or any other page with a bio and contact information.
Franzen’s readers were using a tool called Facebook Ads, which charges a small cost-per-click fee and can targeted to specific kinds of people registered on the social networks. A company that made t-shirts with pictures of Barack Obama, for example, could target their ads to users who had identified themselves as Democrats. The job seekers targeted current and past employees of specific companies, like Disney.
One participant, Michael Wuest, was a recent graduate of Missouri University who wanted to work in marketing for a company with a strong brand and reputation. He started the experiment by targeting Facebook users with jobs in brand management, and in certain locations, but didn’t have much luck. So he decided to focus on one company, Sprint. “When I targeted one company I got ten to twenty times the amount of clicks,” says Wuest.
Facebook has a little under 2,000 users in the “Sprint” network – meaning, at some point had an email address ending in “sprint.com”. From an online advertiser’s perspective, this is a nice-sized audience: small and targeted enough for the ad to be highly relevant to them, but large enough to ensure enough of them would actually click on it.
The ad was viewed 2,588 times, and 32 different folks from Sprint clicked on it and found Wuest’s LinkedIn page (another benefit of the service: detailed metrics). From there, five contacted him by email – all but one were current employees offering advice on how to get hired. Nathan Carlson, a 23-year-old telecom engineer at the company, even hopped on the phone to give him an information interview. He agreed to pass Wuest’s resume onto the right hiring manager, and told him to follow up in a few weeks.
Wuests’s story doesn’t have a fairytale ending – Carlson told him Sprint was in a hiring freeze, and he ended up finding a job with a more tradition approach elsewhere. But it does have an element he wouldn’t have found posting his resume on HotJobs: real people at a place he wanted to work reaching out to help him because they were genuinely impressed with his creativity. In all, Wuest’s Sprint ad cost $5.12.
“It’s not going to get you a job or get you hired on the spot,” says Willy Franzen of the method he devised. “But it’s going to get your foot in the door. It’s going to get your resume to the top of the pile. There’s a good shot at getting an interview from it.”
If you’re interested in making your own Facebook ad to find a job, I recommend you follow Franzen’s step-by-step guide: which you can find here.
Next up in the Job Hunter’s Toolbox, on Thursday, November 6th: prepping for interviews without having to talk to yourself in a mirror.