I’ve been nothing if not resourceful and creative in my job hunt. As a current graduate student on the lookout for full-time employment in publishing/media, I feel like I need to be. It’s important for me to be up-to-date on breaking news, trending topics, social media, content marketing and how to reach an audience. And with an avid social following on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, I feel like I’m doing well so far.
But it’s still up to me to be an innovator, and the one who proves that they know how to take risks that work. I decided to tweet at some of my dream employers for a week, and then an extra week, to see what happened. It’s worked for me in the past — in fact, it’s how I became an Assistant Editor for Luna Luna Magazine. In October, I tweeted at the magazine that I’d love to contribute, and they replied, letting me know how to apply. Since then, I’ve helped the magazine relaunch with a new website, helped launch and promote its #selfiewitch campaign to show that women who post selfies aren’t narcissistic, and assisted with editing, publishing, marketing and social media.
I had a few different strategies during my #TweetWeek, as I called it on Twitter.
1. Tweet directly at the brand/company/organization
This didn’t work very well. As someone who has managed social media for several different organizations knows, many companies use management systems like Hootsuite, TweetDeck, and others to continually post, and take less time to personally interact with followers. And when they do, they’re often busy.
The only reply I got was from We Need Diverse Books, who offered me a chance to volunteer for their team. This has worked for me in terms of creating volunteer partnerships before, so I was thrilled. I emailed them right away to get started on a volunteer partnership.
@alainaskeys > :o) If you have time we appreciate the help! Feel free to email us at weneeddiversebooks at yahoo.
— WeNeedDiverseBooks (@diversebooks) December 12, 2015
I started out by tweeting directly to brands, but I didn’t get many responses this way, so I changed my strategy very quickly.
2. Include a current or former employee in my tweet
I’ve been a long-time fan of Autostraddle, an online magazine for queer women, and I recently had the chance to interview Senior Editor Heather Hogan for a Her Campus article (a chance I got by, you guessed it, tweeting at her to ask!). After we talked, I tweeted at her again to thank her for the great discussion.
.@hhoagie Thanks for a great conversation! Unrelated, but if you could ask for one thing in the new PLL season, what would it be?
— Alaina Leary (@alainaskeys) December 16, 2015
Hogan said she’d get back to me, but she also began following me on Twitter. The fangirl in me shrieked in delight and felt a little more “social media famous.”
I also asked Hasbro creatives what they love about working for the company, which has always been a favorite of mine and would easily make my list of dream jobs.
— Matt Colleran (@BostonColleran) December 16, 2015
Wouldn’t it be so cool to create toys for kids, or even do the marketing or brand writing for those toys? Growing up, I’d always see the coolest commercials for new toys made by Hasbro. These guys have it made, honestly.
Trish Bendix, editor-in-chief of AfterEllen, another online magazine for queer women, also replied to my tweet. She and I are also connected on Facebook, which made it a little easier to reach out to her without feeling like a total stalker.
@alainaskeys hearing from readers about how much AE has meant to them & seeing change in representation & hoping AE had a small part in it
— trish bendix (@trishbendix) December 15, 2015
By this time, I’d gotten several responses from some of my potential dream jobs, as well as a lot of tweets that went out into the Internet, only to be completely forgotten about. To be honest, it was kind of like sending a text to your crush: I felt the strangest sense of anticipation and fear each time I tweeted at a dream employer, hoping they might see me and like me back, maybe even enough to hire me. Each time I didn’t end up getting a reply, I felt the same sense of dismay as when someone hot ignores your text.
I tried not to think about it, and I tweeted at other members of the Her Campus national team. Is that cheating? One of my major dream jobs is to work on the full-time staff one day, so I don’t think so. Members of the national team told me what they love about HC, which only made me even more jealous that they get to work here every day.
— cara e. sprunk (@carasprunk) December 14, 2015
— Katherine Mirani (@KatherineMirani) December 14, 2015
And the former editor-in-chief of The Boston Globe Magazine, Susanne Althoff, answered my question about the challenges faced by an editor.
— Susanne Althoff (@SusanneAlthoff) December 14, 2015
It sounds hard to deal with, but I’ll take it! I learned a little bit about how valuable people’s time is on social media. I’m a pretty busy person myself, and I often find myself delegating and ignoring unimportant messages because I have a new submission to edit for a magazine or an article that needs immediate writing. I started to feel a little more sympathy for the people who I was pestering, and realized that just because they weren’t writing me back didn’t mean their company would never hire me.
I’d love a full-time or freelance position at any of these places, so it was both terrifying and exhilarating to have my tweets heard!
3. Tweet at my role models as well
Once my strategy of tweeting at people directly showed that it works, I decided to include my role models as well. I mean, whose dream job isn’t to be a full-time author? My efforts here were mainly to get my role models to notice me, not to ask them “how they got there,” because the reality is often so complex.
This campaign went very well, and one of my favorite authors, Maggie Stiefvater, retweeted my holiday mantle.
— Alaina Leary (@alainaskeys) December 16, 2015
— Alaina Leary (@alainaskeys) December 28, 2015
I was retweeted by them, and I started to feel better about my social media campaign. I was going to stop tweeting at brands to ask them how they liked work, and instead tell them how much I loved the brand and why. I know the feeling: many of my published pieces have received such well-thought-out and considerate reader comments, and every time, it feels like my hard work is worth it. I know if I were the founder of a jewelry company or an author and a fan featured my work in their daily life, I’d be proud and excited, too.
4. Taking the campaign to Instagram
When I was finally fresh out of ideas, I decided to do what I know best: Instagram. I wanted to show BookBub that I’d love to be a part of their team, and I ended up getting over 250 likes on the post. A former classmate also commented that the company would be “lucky to have” me. Since she and I weren’t particularly close in college, it meant even more coming from her, and it started a nice conversation between us about book recommendations.
I’ve always had great success on Instagram because I use a professional camera to take my shots, and I employ a combination of design skills and compelling, popular hashtags to get my posts noticed.
BookBub hasn’t said anything in response to my post yet, but I’m pleased about the number of notes it got.
I’ve known about the power of social media for growing an audience for a while now due to using it for brands, but I’ll be interested to see if any of my recent social media campaigns give me the push I need to show companies how much I’d love to work there. I have open applications out with The Boston Globe, BookBub, and I currently serve as Career Editor for Her Campus.
A lot of the positions I’ve been applying for require adept social media skills, and it would definitely be a great selling point to say, “I promoted your brand by listing it as one of my ‘dream jobs’ online!” I think all employers ideally want to hear at the interview that they’re the exact place you want to work, and in some cases, that really is true for me.
Everyone knows how important it is to make sure your social media presence is clean and professional, but it should also be a little personal, too. You want brands to be able to check you out and see why your personality might be a terrific fit. Do your accounts show a strong love of books if you’re applying to be a project coordinator at a major book publisher? Does your Twitter account feature the latest breaking news updates if you want to be a news reporter? Do you repost and share from the social accounts of experts in your field, and brands you adore?
If your professional and personal interests align online, brands will be able to see that, and they’ll be even more happy to have you on the team.