The Job Search Is Broken, So I Turned Mine Into A Social Media Campaign

So in case you haven’t seen it yet, you may want to watch the video that kicked this whole campaign off:

I released the video on Friday, October 30 at around 11:30am and, two days later, it has just over 3,700 views. This is nothing compared to a viral video, but it certainly exceeded my expectations. My YouTube channel is still pretty small compared to my other platforms and I usually get about 300 views/video. So in getting over 10x that, I knew I had struck a chord.

Firstly, Why Use YouTube as the Main Channel?

I’ve been blogging since 2002. On LinkedIN since 2004. Tweeting since July 2006. My biggest channels are LinkedIn (109k+), Facebook (89k+), and Twitter (51.4k). So why use a channel that has under 500 followers?

Video is the future and, though I’ve been slow to migrate over to YouTube, I strongly believe it’s where brands and people should be investing. It seems like the market is already saturated with YouTube celebs, but it’s not, there are still so many subjects, niches, and audiences that are underserved on that platform. I, for one, know that content for 35+ professionals is sadly lacking (unless you want crappy stuff that looks like an infomercial).

So, that’s why I’m committed to YouTube and will be continuing to grow my content and brand over there (stay tuned for a content overhaul – much more focused on building my Truly Social series on my own channel)…so it was a perfect place to kick this off. Plus, you get to really see me, which is also the appeal of video.

So, Then…What’s With the Campaign? Why Can’t You Just Apply for Jobs Like Everybody Else?

That’s a great question!

And when I told a few friends I was doing this, most of them winced and said, “Are you sure this is a good idea?” I, too, was a little afraid that putting myself out there would be a career-hurting move. Even though I’m one of the incredibly early-adopters of social and VERY comfortable sharing pretty much everything, the platform has grown to a point where there are no longer just ‘friendlies’ hanging about. So, yeah, as I show in the opening of the video, I took a deep breath and decided to have faith in this idea.

“I decided to try to avoid the application process and put myself out there for interested employers to come to me. I have no idea if it will work!”

The thing is…there are things that what I said in the video that needed to be said and that I figured would resonate with a few people…beyond my intended audience. They were my reasons for launching my job search as a social media campaign (beyond being inspired by Saul, of course):

Reason #1: Job Search is Broken

I’ve been on both sides of the job search. I’ve sought out candidates and I’ve applied as a candidate. And I have to say, the more we add technology to the problem, the worse off it seems we are.

For one, there are more job search boards than ever. On each of these boards are thousands to tens of thousands of jobs, so as a searcher, you apply filters to narrow these jobs down to what you are qualified for and would love to do. However, those filters have – more than a dozen times – eliminated the most interesting, relevant results for me. Sometimes that’s because the person posting the job doesn’t use the exact right key phrase or forgets to fill out one of the parameters (location? salary range?).

On the other side, the automated resumé sorters/scorers are a complete mess. Two jobs ago, I had submitted a resumé and application, then found out I had a contact who could help me bypass the process. So, I got the job! But when being onboarded, I mentioned to the HR person that I had applied through their HR portal. She looked confused. She hadn’t received my resumé. Out of curiosity, she logged in to see the resumés that had been filtered out and guess what? Mine was there with a score of 26% relevancy. She would have never received my application if I hadn’t found another way to apply. I’ll bet I have lots of applications stuck in the jaws of these robots because I didn’t use the right buzzwords on my resumé.

“I have lots of applications stuck in the jaws of these robots because I didn’t use the right buzzwords on my resumé.”

So I decided to try to avoid that application process and put myself out there for interested employers to come to me. WYSIWYG. No buzzwords. Just honesty. And no robots to stop me.

Reason #2: We Are All a Bunch of Liars

If you are lucky and your application happens to get through the robots, the next thing that happens are interviews. And interviews are the circus to end all circuses.

Interviewers want to put the company’s best foot forward and interviewees want to put their own best foot forward. So they both emphasize the good stuff and downplay the bad stuff. There are a series of standard and irrelevant questions you are sure to be asked and there is a range of answer that will impress the interviewer.

It’s probably all BS, but it’s like a first date…you just want a second one. And to stick with the dating metaphor, you are probably projecting a lot onto one another. I’m sure there is a study somewhere that says that most hiring managers have already made most of their decision before the meeting itself. Just like we are more likely to forgive the bad manners of our dates if we find them physically attractive.

I’ve made all sorts of bad decisions based on those interviews. I’ve been too willing to believe what a company representative has to say about what they believe in. They have all said they are digitally-driven, social media savvy, committed to research, etc etc and, in reality, have been none of that. It’s incredibly difficult to discern culture in those interviews.

“All of these companies have said they are digitally-driven, social media savvy, committed to research, etc etc and, in reality, have been none of that.”

But I think the issue is that we are afraid to be honest. So I was honest and maybe a wee bit ballsy in the video so I wouldn’t fall into the same trap.

This comment on my FB post reinforced the importance of being honest:


There *will* be people who think what I’ve done is crazy or unprofessional or otherwise damaging to my reputation, but good! The table the commenter is referring to is one where I will never belong. The table has to change.

I want my next move to be THE move. The place that I spend many, many years at. The place where I grow and where I help grow. I want to collaborate with an amazing team of people for a long time. I want a work family. This means there needs to be a cultural fit. And that’s REALLY hard to figure out in an interview where everyone is being too careful to be truthful.

Of course, the world would be a better place if people were more honest, but I doubt that we’re going to see brutal honesty in interviews anytime soon.

Reason #3: Opportunity Doesn’t Knock, You Have to Seek it Out

I’ve been studying social capital and its effects for many years, and one of the main things I’ve learned is about the importance of bridging capital. There are two general types of social capital: Bonding and Bridging. Bonding capital is what I’ve called the ‘Soup Metric‘ – building social capital with people in your inner circle (or homogenous group). Bonding capital is super important and I believe strongly in it, but it’s a bit limited if you are looking to spread a message. A message spread within a homogenous group is often referred to as speaking to the “echo chamber”.

Bridging capital, on the other hand, is about branching out beyond your immediate network. It’s where you cross into heterogenous groups where your message can spread further. Your message still needs to resonate within your bonded social group, but has to also appeal to a broader group that you don’t currently have much interaction with.

In other words, if I would have just posted a message to friends asking for help or sent out a few feelers in my network, I may have drummed up a few opportunities. But strategically, I felt that the opportunity I’m seeking is beyond my immediate network, so I needed to create something that would travel further and put me in the way of those opportunities.

“I needed to create something that would travel further and put me in the way of those opportunities.”

This is Not a Perfect Solution By Any Means

One commenter on a shared video said, “I hope these video resumes don’t catch on cause then some of us are screwed.” He made me realize there are some limitations to this approach. Number one, it isn’t scalable. Number two, it will favor those who game it.

It also puts the onus on me to do the filtering. I still need to go through the multiple messages in my inbox, on LinkedIn, Facebook, and even voice mails. I’ve decided to step back from them a little, but there are definitely over 100 ‘let’s talks’ waiting for me when I sit down and focus on it. At a first glance, most of them aren’t standing out to me, but I won’t be a robot and pass them over too quickly.

There are also some things I didn’t put into the video because it would have gotten too long and would lose it’s appeal.

I didn’t mention that I would prefer to stay in Toronto (though I’m open to moving for a REALLY amazing opportunity). We bought a home here earlier this year and are pretty settled.

I didn’t mention that I have a soft spot for iconic Canadian brands like Canadian Tire, Joe Fresh, Indigo Books, Mountain Equipment Coop, ALDO, Roots, Bouclair, EQ3, Shoppers Drug Mart, CBC, Rudsak, The Bay, Holt Renfrew, RBC, and Tim Hortons (to name a few…there are dozens more I love). A friend asked me if I would be open to a startup. I said, “Yes, if they are the next Uber or Etsy,” meaning I should be incredibly excited about them and recognize them as truly disruptive. I am also open to US or internationally-based brands with a strong presence and commitment to Canada (meaning no flow through – perhaps Saks Fifth Avenue?).

I also should have mentioned that I will only consider an executive role: vice president or higher. I also want a team. I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, but it’s damned hard to be strategic when you are constantly stuck in the weeds.

The campaign isn’t over. I feel like it’s just beginning, and I don’t think it should just result in me getting a great job. That would be a very short-sited and selfish outcome.

I want to accomplish a few things with this:

  1. Open up a real conversation on the state of ‘digital’ and ‘social’ in companies. Everyone says they are social and digital, but it seems like most of them don’t really understand what that means. Remember, digital is a culture, not a strategy. The culture has to shift (aka ‘The Table’). The audience has moved on.
  2. Open up a real conversation on how broken talent acquisition is. One of my best friends in the universe is a recruiter and we’ve had many amazing conversations about this. I’m still trying to convince her to put it out there. But for now, I will use her knowledge and give her credit where I can. My approach isn’t perfect or scalable, but maybe there is something in it that we can use going forward.

I want to inspire both of these conversations t0 happen because they need to. So make your own videos! Write posts! Create infographics! Join the conversation! You know, like back in the good ole days of the social web when we used it for stuff like connecting on issues and changing the world. ;)

And, uh, if you or anyone you know is looking for someone like me to join your team, let me know. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Featured image – YouTube

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