Does being big on Twitter help you land a good job?

 
New York job fair

What's the best way to impress employers - having tons of Twitter followers, or a flashy CV? Go for big-name companies and prestige every time, advises Lucy Kellaway of the Financial Times.

If you asked me about my working life, I would tell you that I've worked at the Financial Times for a quarter of a century. If pressed further, I might reveal (depending on who was asking) that long ago I worked briefly for JPMorgan. I might also add that I went to Oxford University.

Yet according to a blog on the Harvard Business Review website, this sort of institutional name-dropping is not only vain and superficial, it has outlived its usefulness.

Prestige simply isn't as prestigious as it used to be.

For a start many of the big names aren't looking so impressive any more. We don't revere Goldman Sachs or News Corp or McKinsey in the same way we used to.

Start Quote

Lucy Kellaway

Surely being big on Twitter just tells employers you spend more time composing silly little messages than working”

End Quote Lucy Kellaway

And social networks mean we no longer have to rely on the names of institutions to do our signalling for us - we can do it ourselves.

The upshot is that young people should stop scrambling over each other for jobs at Bain and Morgan Stanley - all such big names do is pigeonhole people. The only true way to stand out is to stop focusing on who you are working for, and think of what you are doing instead.

This blog is one of the most cheering things I've read in ages.

Or rather it would be cheering if it weren't for the fact that it is completely wrong.

Of course it is achievements that count. The trouble is, most people, apart from a few entrepreneurs, haven't really achieved anything terribly tangible. If you are Mark Zuckerberg you don't need big names on your CV. The rest of us do.

Far from getting less important, flashy affiliations are now more important than ever. This is partly because the job market is so bad that everyone needs all the help they can get. But it's also because getting these good jobs and good degrees is harder than it used to be.

JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, News Corp

In my day what counted was breeding and luck, with effort and skill lagging far behind. Now the order is reversed.

Anybody who has got a job at Goldman and held on to it for a decade has achieved something that might not be socially valuable, but offers conclusive proof that the person is bright and hardworking - as well as possibly arrogant and greedy.

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Neither do social networks make affiliations redundant. The more information there is out there, the more we need a few decent names on a CV as a shortcut.

And I fail to see how being big on Twitter makes you attractive to future employers. Surely it just tells them you spend more time composing silly little messages than working.

So I would advise the ambitious to go for prestige every time. Of course it is shallow and unfair, but it works.

Having a prestigious employer already is a great help in finding a new one. And the great thing about such affiliations is that even if they don't impress others (which they do, mostly) they may impress yourself.

In my experience these mighty institutions work well as comfort blankets, wombs and crutches, all roles that are generally frowned on - but wrongly so. I'm a huge fan of all three.

 

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  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 38.

    Twitter is for twatts.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 37.

    Says Xyriach #28: "[. . .] I've given up hoping for a CV from someone who can actually string a written sentence together. Some of these people need large twitter followings, it's the only recognition they're going to get in life."

    Talking about sentences, I can say that "followings, it's" is a good example of a run-on sentence.

    And "Twitter" is a proper noun.

  • rate this
    +8

    Comment number 36.

    Puregenie @ 34:
    "If you're a company that isn't embracing Social Media as a legitimate marketing technique and valuable conversation tool, then you will be left behind."

    Companies with strong lines and high value get Social Media to embrace them.
    Spread the word .....

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 35.

    Any employer that regards being "big" on Twatter as an asset is not one I would consider working for. They will get the people they deserve.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 34.

    If you're a company that isn't embracing Social Media as a legitimate marketing technique and valuable conversation tool, then you will be left behind. Although Twitter has an awful lot of spam, it is a tool with immediacy and attention.
    If your candidates can't spell, perhaps you're looking in the wrong places.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 33.

    So... you're a journalist, and you wonder if having a large Twitter following helps or hinders a person's job prospects? What do you do? Do you ask employees/employers/interviewers/jobseekers? Or do you just write your own opinion without checking any facts or figures?

    My first reaction would be to do the former, but clearly I'm wrong, which is probably why I'm not a highly-paid FT journalist.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 32.

    I am an employer. Whilst I would always take on staff on individual merit, as a general rule, I have observed that those who use twitter tend to be er, Twits actually.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 31.

    @ 25.Your Call Is Important To Us
    Would prospective employers be even more impressed if we managed to type our CVs in 140 characters or less?
    -----
    Given the inaccessability of even entry-level jobs to graduates and school leavers, that's probably far more feasible than you might think.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 30.

    This story's heading is: "Does being big on Twitter help you land a good job?"

    I don't see why not. Twitterdom is all about brief and meaningless semiliteracy, and that description reminds me of many an advertisement for a vacancy in the employment market.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 29.

    Surely employers want staff who are comfortable with themselves?

    Those who spend time on Facebook & Twitter are often seeking assurance from others.

    If interviewing a management candidate cuddling a gizmo throughout the process, I would end interview with:
    "Can you demonstrate how you protect your identity on that thing?"

    If unable, I would be concerned for the security of my company.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 28.

    To be honest, these days I'm impressed with a CV that only has common spelling mistakes in it. I've given up hoping for a CV from someone who can actually string a written sentence together.

    Some of these people need large twitter followings, it's the only recognition they're going to get in life.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 27.

    Surely having a big Twitter/Facebook account would just prove to companies what a SAD individual you are and that you would be a rubbish employee as you would always be on your phone or computer checking your Twitter and Facebook accounts.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 26.

    A very big and active Twitter account may be deemed a threat to many people!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 25.

    Would prospective employers be even more impressed if we managed to type our CVs in 140 characters or less?

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 24.

    This seems to follow on from what a lot of American career coaches call your personal "brand" - you must have a linkedin, a blog, a professional twitter, some even go so far as to have a professional facebook. It's all style over substance to me - what I want to know as an employer is: can you do the job I need you to do? I don't care if you have an online presence!

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 23.

    So if you spend all your time on Twitter, Facebook etc that means you are going to do well at your new job? Sounds to me like you will be spending all your time not doing your job.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 22.

    Would a Twitter account hurt ? .. if so how ? what are you all moaning about exactly ?

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 21.

    Depends on the job I guess and for most jobs probably irrelevant. A bit like the article.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 20.

    The issue simply boils down to image or substance. And so when you look your surgeon in the eye you hope to goodness he, or she, has never heard of "Twitter" whatever that is............

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 19.

    Isn't this just another example of an article on the BBC website which poses a question in the headline only for this question to remain unanswered?

 

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