Tweeting A 140 Character Resume is Like Crashing A Party (And Not In A Good Way)

Everybody and their mom is running around trying to summarize their entire career in 140 characters, slapping the #socialcv hashtag on it, and waiting to get hired.

They will be waiting a long time.

Vala Afshar, the CMO and Chief Customer Officer of Enterasys (disclaimer: who I’ve met, and think pretty highly of) has kicked over a hornets’ nest. He famously announced a month or so ago that he was going to hire a senior marketer for his firm, and that he wasn’t going to accept traditional resumes. The job description indicated that interested parties should tweet their interest, using the hashtag #socialcv, and that Vala’s team ‘would take care of the rest.’

Unsurprisingly, there’s been a lot of press coverage of this. It’s a pretty novel concept. It’s been in the Wall Street Journal and USA Today and blogs everywhere. Sadly for everyone involved, no one really paid attention beyond the headline or the lede, because everyone just jumped on to this whole “The New Resume is 140 Characters” idea (which is patent nonsense, as I’ll explain more, below). Predictably, people all over Twitter went bonkers. First, we saw tweets like these, heralding the dawn of this new era:

Tweets proclaiming that the new resume is 140 characters.

Then, we saw about a bazillion tweets like these:

A whole bunch of tweets where people try to write 140-character resumes.

Please note – I bear none of these people ill will, nor do I judge them negatively. The WSJ told them to do it, and if you can’t trust the WSJ, who can you trust, right?

Nowhere, ever, did Vala or any of his colleagues at Enterasys, on twitter, their blogs, or in their copious interactions with the media, say “jam your whole resume into 140 characters and then spam your twitter followers with the hashtag #hireme”.

The reason for this is because that’s not what the #socialcv is about. And, you don’t need to be a friend of Vala’s to know this – he’s been very public with his thinking about the process, and he’s been thinking about it for quite some time:

Vala's Tweet from Jan 12, 2012 indicating that the "digital thumbprint" will be the new principal recruiting tool.

See the date on that tweet? January 12, 2012. And it’s not like he mentioned that the one time – he’s said numerous times that “google is your resume” – including in the WSJ article I linked above. He flat out said it.

For marketers, writers, PR folks, digital strategists and operators, social media specialists, his theory posits, a Google search replaces the need for a traditional CV – meaning, “when I google your name, I will see everything I need to know about you.” Your digital footprint, if you’ve managed it correctly, will tell a potential employer’s team what they need to know about you, and your social network presence can function as references to belie or corroborate your curated digital image.

When your name is Googled, your main social profiles will pop. Your blog and/or portfolio. Your published articles, your slideshares, videos you’ve created. And if there’s nothing there about you on the first page of Google? Then they’re probably not going to be all that interested in you.

If you can’t manage and promote the most important brand in the world – yours – they why would they trust you to manage theirs?

Part of the whole #socialcv idea is that Google and the Social Networks make the hiring team’s job easier. The Paper CV is entirely of your creation. You control what goes on it. You deliberately put the good stuff on it, leave the bad stuff out, and then spend hours editing, re-wording, adding embellishments, ballyhoo and numbers of dubious quality or meaning. The recruiters, screeners, and hirers need to spend time sifting through hundreds, if not thousands of these documents looking for the right combination of possibly-true accomplishments, and then try to decide if they’re true or not, and whether or not they match up well with the requirements of the job.

So then why is everyone recreating a Paper CV in their so-called Social CV, slapping a hashtag on it, and then spamming people?

This is basically saying “I don’t know what I’m doing!” in really big letters. A tweet is ephemeral – yes, it will be there “forever” if people go digging, digging, digging, but the half-life of a tweet is measured in minutes. After 30 minutes, it might as well never have happened. And, beyond that, who’s looking at your Twitter stream? Unless you know someone hiring for what you’re spamming about on Twitter, and know them well enough that they care about your tweets, the right eyes aren’t even seeing the message.

The Social CV approach says, “hey, tell me your name, tell me you’re interested, and give me your Twitter handle, and we’ll do the rest.” The recruiting team will Google your name, read your site, check out your work and see the image you’ve created. Then they will proof-point that by scoping you out on your social profiles. Is your image fluff, or do you actually have the chops to go with the image? Digitally savvy recruiters and operators should be able to tell the difference – thus avoiding the need for a Paper CV and all the usual rigamarole.

Furthermore, even if you’re only passively looking for work, or not looking at all, the Social CV is there, allowing prospective employers to find you, evaluate you, and invite you to their next dance – unlike a traditional CV that you send in upon their request.

Of course, if you’re an IT engineer, in finance, actuarial science, or dozens of other roles or functions, you’re probably not going to be judged on the same criteria as people who need to be on top of their digital/social media game. You may not even be able to be taken seriously without a paper CV for quite some time, still.

The idea that a tweet is the new elevator pitch is less laughable, but still misses the mark. There will be times when you *do* tweet an pitch certainly – but not out of the blue.

Twitter, and tweets, are for spreading content, asking questions, sharing ideas – having conversations. If you want to get a job, don’t spam people who don’t have any jobs to offer. Have conversations with people who do or have access to those that do. Make friends, demonstrate your worth, and then let them invite you to the party.

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