When I was in Girl Scouts many years ago, we practiced what we called the “Buddy System.” It was simple: you never went anywhere away from the main group without a buddy. Whether it was a regular meeting, a day trip, or a weekend at camp, you took a buddy along for safety.
Now comes evidence the same thing works for job seekers. If you want to get a job, it helps to have a job—but if you don’t, you definitely need to have friends who are employed.
The first evidence came from Italy, but now American researchers have reached the same conclusion. (There’s a $5 fee for that article, so I haven’t read it.) Naturally, there’s a certain advantage to having employed friends when you’re looking for a new job: they might know of a position with their own employers and recommend you. But I suspect there’s a bit more to it.
This story goes back to a non-profit job I had several years ago. Early on in my time there I’d been given the responsibility of maintaining a contact list for our department. As we had unusually high staff turnover, including transfers in and out of the department, it took up a fair amount of time. When we relocated to a different building, it made sense to expand the contact list to include all of our organization’s staff in that building, not just our department. Then someone got the idea that the contact list should include all our staff, not just those in the building.
In the meantime I’d formed a virtual friendship via e-mail and phone with the technicians in the IT department, who were mostly at one of the other locations. I’d only met two of them: the technician assigned to our site and the guy who managed all our cell phones. But the IT guys were a great team and very helpful even though we hadn’t yet met. One of the things they helped me with was the contact list, even to the point of creating an automatic notification system that would let me know when a new e-mail address or cell phone number had been assigned to someone on the staff.
The subject of Klout keeps coming back in the #UsGuys Twitter stream. We love to measure it, malign it, debate it… But we can’t resist checking our own scores now and then, if only to say that they are a fraction of a point too high or too low, which disproves the whole premise.
I’ll go easy on Klout. In most respects I find it to be a decent measure of a person’s effectiveness on Twitter—no other social network (as of today), but pretty good at measuring how well someone uses Twitter. A score of over 60 is very good; the single digits signal a newbie or a bot.
Anyway, my Klout score has stagnated lately because I’ve been using Twitter less. It goes back to about three weeks ago, when I got my first ride in an ambulance. I wasn’t the patient: that was my Dad. He’s had type 2 diabetes for years and it’s well controlled by medication, but occasionally his blood sugar goes a bit too low and he suffers from hypoglycemia. He’s passed out two or three times before, always briefly, and he always recovered quickly once he got some sugar in him. But this time he happened to pass out on the checkout line at a local supermarket. It caused a bit of a fuss.
Last month I attended Social Media Week New York. As most of my career has been spent in non-profits, I registered for panels on non-profits, international development, and using social media for social good. There was a good deal of discussion about events happening in the Middle East, and opinions were divided on how much (or how little) social media like Facebook and Twitter were influencing the democracy movements.
Friday around noon I returned from an early lunch break for a panel discussion. Every venue (that I know of) had wi-fi, so after finding a good seat I cracked open my laptop to check e-mail and Twitter. Twitter was alive! Reports that Hosni Mubarak had resigned were lighting up my timeline, so I switched briefly to my News list, which was also crazy. But this is a new medium, and the contradictory reports of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting in January had shown me that misinformation can propagate just as easily as reliable information. So I quickly looked at the websites of the New York Times, the BBC, and Al Jazeera English. All of them reported Mubarak’s resignation, so I accepted it as true.