I got turned down for a job for not having enough Twitter followers.
When did invisible social media become the indivisible job deciderer? I thought a resume, experience and references made me an attractive candidate. I had no idea that my popularity in the ethosphere impacted how well I might perform for an employer in the real world.
You can't watch television without Twitter requests. Some ask you to vote for a winner, but the real purpose is to gauge viewership. How come very employed celebrities can go on a show and ask the audience to follow them on social media and boom -- they gain a million followers? Everyone has the same value. The only platform for the common man is the brotherhood of camaraderie.
Googling everyone we deal with is now how we get to first base with each other. Let's say you hear about this amazing carpet cleaning business. You do a search, and they have three followers. Do you trust them with your rugs? That poor guy behind that company desperately wants your business but he also needs to spend his time and energy on maintaining his craft, not hashtagging. His conundrum is a twist on the adage, "It's easier to get a job when you already have a job."
I was laid off in 2013, from a job I loved. I immediately went into battle mode, dispatching my resume as soldiers. I'm a former U.S. Marine; sometimes that distinction floats me to the top of the pile. But I took a direct hit when vulnerability from my perceived weakness on Twitter sank my battleship. I was on a mission; however, and continued to fire off resumes to companies and recruiters with the rapidity of a machine gun.
I never received one response. Hostile or friendly. Not a call or email or... a tweet. My resume is me, a tumbleweed rolling through the vast, wide-open job land, accompanied by the sound of crickets.
I still send them out, but now with the hope that I do get a call. I'll answer, "Oh, you saw my resume! You're calling me for an interview? What the hell is wrong with you?! I've sent it to thousands of others with no response. No, I can't come in; you're clearly insane." Slam. I bet if I had 25,000 followers they'd instantly contact me. But then I might not need a job. Argh.
Maybe it's my fault. I'm on Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest and Google Plus and LinkedIn. I accept every BBQ invite as an opportunity to send out smoke signals. Unemployment insurance runs out before many of us find jobs. There is a vacuum of a vicious circle, reminiscent of high school, where we need to look popular by our online appearance. Actors are being chosen over those with fewer followers, restaurants close over negative Yelp reviews. Shaq gets in a Twitter feud with Kobe and they each gain followers. I'll start a feud, but with whom? Ina Garten over fresh herbs versus dried?
It's hard to tell the exact tone of a tweet. I need more than 140 characters to establish subtext. I wrote a book about my time in the Marine Corps (The Pink Marine, available September 2015 on Amazon). But some publishers turned me down because I didn't have (in their eyes) enough followers.
I also write comedy, I write about food and I cook on television -- so my messages are a blended variety. Recently, I snapped a picture of a butterfly in my garden. I uploaded the picture and asked for recipes. It lost me several followers that either didn't recognize my joke or have no sense of humor. Of course I wasn't really cooking that butterfly. It takes a lot more than one to make Butterfly Pie.
We're all floating, hovering. The fragility of followers is like that of life. (I can't tweet that, it's depressing. People want to see happiness and joy in their feed. Despite the time I spend in an armchair due to my lack of employment, I'm no armchair philosopher. At least not with my small of a flock.) Pounding the pavement is now done by hitting the keyboard. Still as frustrating, yet at least we have the privacy of our own home when we need to lick the wounds of rejection.
Getting a job is a tough business. There's strength in numbers, and I'm trying to bolster mine on all social media platforms.
Andy Borowitz tweeted (to his 564K followers), "There's a fine line between social networking and wasting your fucking life."
I want to find that balance. It's hard when no one really understands the cause and effect of this firestorm yet. I'm not sloshing my cocktail, like a battle-scarred old Sergeant in the canteen after taps, "What's it all matter anyway?" I need to make money, so to me it's about results and marketing. Mark Cuban applies that more liberally, tweeting to his 3.3 million followers, warnings that our social media presence and use makes us targeted pawns for advertisers. He predicts marketers will soon zero in on consumers with an accuracy that is dangerous.
With my U.S.M.C. rifle skills, I wonder if Cuban's hiring.
We can't see each other in real life, but there's an actual feeling person behind every Twitter handle. Be kind. And if you could see this humble applicant, I'm on my knees asking you to follow me.