Will the 'Twitter Résumé' Ruin Twitter?

If Twitter is the new résumé, will any of us ever have a job? Or will we just stop wanting to tweet?

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There are lots of things you can do with Twitter. Tweet hilarious things, for instance. Employ hashtags for fun and amusement. Share information. Read the latest, greatest, breaking-est news. Follow people who know things you want to know; be followed by others. Share viral videos. Make online friends and enemies. Make mistakes. And, of course, you can get a job, or you can lose one. We tend to hear more about the latter than the former, but the getting-of-a-job is officially an in-real-life Twitter capability, as Rachel Emma Silverman and Lauren Weber report in The Wall Street Journal: "Twitter is becoming the new job board. It is also becoming the new résumé." That pronouncement is bolstered by the recent example of @DawnSiff's viral Vine résumé, which she tweeted and which got her a project manager gig at the Economist Group's commercial unit (it bears mentioning that she'd been looking for a job for six months, taking "64 hours of continuing education classes," and attending a bunch of networking events as well as going on informational and legitimate job interviews in the process). A tweet can do something, but it can't do everything.

Pronouncing social media the new job-finding tool, of course, not exactly new. For quite a while people have been concerned that what they say on Twitter might be taken by potential employers as not exactly fabulous in terms of hiring. That leads to a desire, maybe even a sort of madness, about putting the strategically manipulated "brand of you" up front and center in the best possible light, and with that comes lots of Twitter manuevering, though it goes in different directions depending on the job or life said person wants (if they want to be a comedian, for instance, their tweets and bio will be different than if they want to be a CBS anchor—or at least, they should be). But the sort of creepy new aspect to the so-called Twitter résumé is that instead of sending your potential new boss an earnest, bullet-pointed list of the skills you think qualify you for the job (which one hopes few aside from management will need to see), you've got a mere 140 characters to put your best foot forward for any and all jobs you might want. And everyone else in the world can see that.

From a recruiting, and probably a hiring, perspective, this is brilliant. "Twitter, which was founded in 2006, isn't yet revolutionizing recruiting, but some employers are already using it to great advantage, citing quick, direct contact with candidates and access to broad networks," write Silverman and Weber. It's a no-brainer: Fewer pages to look through. Less to read. No annoying attachments. No need to print anything out, or figure out why your computer refuses to print. And people have already put themselves out there, often with a history, so you don't need to decode what's true and what isn't; the backstory of Twitter missives show you who this person is, or who they want to be, often very consistently.

Also, employers can just issue forth a tweet (new job here!) and not have to worry about the annoying business of placing an ad, letting it run for weeks, getting applications from hundreds of people who don't really fit the bill, and on and on. A business can just pick and choose, or at least, pick and choose from who's on Twitter, which, of course, is hardly everyone in the world, though it is a lot of people. So there it is. "I am fairly certain I am going to abandon the résumé process," Vala Afshar, the chief marketing officer of Boston network-infrastructure firm Enterasys told the Journal. "The Web is your CV and social networks are your references." Maybe this is good in that it allows for a sort of self-selection among people and their jobs. If that company wouldn't want you for your Twitter account, might go the rationale, well then, you wouldn't be right there at all. The darker projection might be that Twitter will become cluttered with a bunch of phonies and sycophants with marketing-styled bios and tweets, and just not even fun at all, anymore.


Some recruiters do remain skeptical of the hire-by-tweet. Maybe someone so branded, and only branded, in their interactions with social media seems like not a real person at all. Maybe that person is hiding something. And, like everything else online, should you really trust everything you see on the Internet, even if that person does have more than 1,000 Twitter followers? Maybe your employer isn't even on Twitter. Of course, whether you're hired for your Twitter account or not, it seems clear that potential employers will look at it, at the very least, if they know anything about the Internet. Which brings us right back to the new-ish reality of our time. Be careful what you do online—but not so careful that you lose yourself entirely. If everyone viewed Twitter as a résumé instead of as, you know, Twitter, then it would probably be Linked In, and we'd spend a heck of a lot less time on it.

One might pause, if one had the time to pause, and ask a few questions here, like, are we just rushing through everything now? (One might sound like an old person, but so be it.) Just like speed-dating, speed-recruiting seems a thing of the here and now that may, ultimately, be less effective than one hopes it would be. In all the effort to save time and function in morsel-sized morsels of information, sometimes we end up less productive than we would have been otherwise, and somehow, still hungry for more. A tweet is easier than a phone call. What is easier than a tweet? Someday, we will know.

Image via Shutterstock by NAN728.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.