Pinterest: A new job search tool?
Aside from the Facebook IPO , Pinterest has been the “hot” social media topic this week. I attended two Twitter chats on Pinterest and have been followed by 44 people this week alone (though I fear they will be disappointed by my nearly empty pin boards). Everywhere I look, people are tweeting and Facebooking their pins, but it’s more than just the newest social media addiction – it’s becoming big business. Mashable announced that Pinterest has broken into the top 5 website traffic drivers for certain retailers.
I followed the masses and joined, but I have to admit I struggled to get into it. My utilitarian nature outweighs my aesthetic appreciation by quite a bit, so pinning pretty pink cupcakes just doesn’t appeal to me (not that there’s anything wrong with pretty cupcakes).
Then I saw Pinterest being used in a more utilitarian way – by a job seeker! This was my A-HA moment!
Anne Reuss, my Featured Friday job seeker this week, is using Pinterest to tell her personal story of how social media gives her a new way of connecting with hearing people. Anne graduated from the University of Illinois as an English major in May, and aside from entering the work force at a time of high unemployment, she has the additional hurdle of being a Deaf person looking for a job in a hearing dominant world that doesn’t understand her abilities. I asked Anne a few questions about her career goals and job search:
What attracts you to social media as a career?
“I actually stumbled upon it. I graduated in May 2011 confident that I would find a job with a strong background that not only revealed I was studious but also a change maker. But . . . I was not finding jobs, and interviewers seemed to never contact me again after they realized I was Deaf. Through networking, I found contract work as a social media strategist temporarily…but discovered it was a stellar match! . . . I have always been confident and outgoing – but participating in social media opened up doors to new, and MORE, forms of communication . . . While I do have fairly strong lip reading and verbal skills, it’s like I have a foreign accent to some people. For example, at a large party with new attendees, I would feel forced to hold back from a group conversation or jump in – because I don’t want to make it awkward – but on the web I can do that and really express my naturally engaging personality. Now, I am using social media to give people a “preview,” to educate, and make them feel comfortable with the idea of what it’d be like to be with me online – and in person. I aspire to continue find innovative communication strategies to benefit myself as a Deaf person, AND others.”
While most users are pinning wedding dresses and craft ideas, what inspired you to use Pinterest as part of your job search strategy?
“I’ve only been in social media for four months, and I saw an opportunity to showcase my creativity – which is an act itself to enrich my resume! One Saturday night, I was out with a couple friends ready to break down in tears because I wasn’t sure how to continue my job search and one of them put it very bluntly – it likely had to do with the fact I was Deaf. Call me slightly naïve, but ignorance still exists. I could use an entertaining – and also more importantly, an intimate way – to connect with my social network (and beyond hopefully) and help them understand there’s nothing to fear! Once prospective clients and employer recognize that, they can completely embrace my abilities.”
What misconceptions do employers need to let go of to truly welcome Deaf candidates and employees? What do you wish they understood?
“We are capable of functioning in a hearing dominant society. We merely have our own culture, and language that makes us somewhat foreigners in some eyes, but isn’t America the land of opportunity? Employers have not honestly disclosed what holds them back, but I sense it’s fear of cost (which by the way – it is not very expensive to accommodate a Deaf employee with video relay Interpreting which is paid in minutes, technology collaboration that makes for easier note taking, for examples), and also comfort, but as any wise business person knows, playing safe isn’t always the winning option!”
Anything else you’d like to share?
“Being Deaf is only a component of myself, my zest and resilience is at my core. Communication goes beyond hearing and speaking English, and being Deaf is not detrimental in the wide world of web and work. I think the ability to establish rapport and relationship in any business is vital.”
Below is a vlog of Anne’s about her Pinterest strategy.
How do you think other job seekers could use Pinterest effectively?
“I would recommend sharing stories about a vital impact you’ve made on your team, business, or even school clubs. If you’ve had more than one internship or job, you should create separate boards that showcase the type of work you’ve done but be sure to find visually attractive images- and unique ones. For instance, I show people how I communicate with the world – including technology, but I also have an intense black and white picture of a man framing his eyes = eye contact. As I do with social media, I post current trends to show I am “happenin” with my industry. Don’t be afraid to post your dreams too – employers like to see motivation! Oh, and pins are like SEO candy – do include pins that could lead back to your e portfolios, virtual resume, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.
I think Anne’s advice for job seekers who would like to use Pinterest as part of their search strategy is excellent! I would add that you should consider the message all your pin boards will send employers. If you have one board related to your career next to one titled “Eye Candy,” with pins of scantily clad women (or men), you may accidentally be sending a “don’t hire me” message. Even if you don’t plan to use Pinterest in your search, remember Anne’s comment about pins being like SEO candy. Prospective employers who Google you will see them anyway, so keep it clean.
Are YOU interested in being featured on one of my Featured Fridays? It’s easy – just stop by my Facebook page on any given Monday and introduce yourself. Mondays are Open Mic days, and each week I’ll ask a different job seeker question. I’ll choose one of the participants who answered to feature that Friday. It’s that easy!