A small social media experiment…


You may remember my recent bewailing of the baffling levels of online advice available to jobseekers who want to use social media tools. It made me question whether anybody would actually be using them as part of their job search (particularly young adults, who are the focus of my study).

In an attempt to allay my fears, I decided to conduct a small experiment and discuss it here on my blog. But to avoid a really long winded entry, I will stagger my findings and discussion across a short series of posts over the next couple of weeks.

What did I do?

Using only social media platforms, I decided to have a good old root around online to see what information I could find that would be of interest to a potential jobseeker. To make it interesting I set myself a time limit of 10 minutes, and created a folder to save as many screenshots as possible of my findings.

There were no strict boundaries on my search i.e. I didn’t approach it from the perspective of an individual seeking a specific job role, or who would be bound by a specific environment/set of circumstances. Also, because it was all done off the cuff, the whole thing was devised and carried out within a total timeframe of about 15 minutes. So the exercise was pretty haphazard by nature, and guided purely by my own idiosyncratic whims.

In the end, I used only Twitter, Facebook and a public discussion forum (which shall remain nameless, but is very large and caters to a very generic audience, discussing anything and everything).

My first search was on Twitter, because it was already open in front of me. I searched:

  • “#jobsee….”

and was prompted with the following:

  • “#JobSeekersSA”.


The search term I started to type was a total stab in the dark, and short of time, I didn’t try and find out what “SA” actually stands for.

Anyway, I clicked on the suggested hashtag, and was greeted by the following screen:

Twitter hashtag #JobseekersSA



The above screenshot from the search shows the 4 posts at the top of the page, all posted within the previous 3 hours. For those of you unfamiliar with Twitter, it would be possible for me to continue scrolling through all of the historical posts which contained the same hashtag (#), for as long as I could be bothered.

The first thing that drew my attention from the screenshot is the user (whose face and name have been blanked out for privacy reasons) who has Tweeted asking for help with a cover letter. Using the hashtag in their Tweet will have ensured their request found a larger audience than just their own merry band of followers.

It is also notable (from the wee icon to the left of the loveheart) that the message has been retweeted twice by other benevolent followers/fellow Twitter users. This will have assisted with the overall diffusion process, as then their (i.e. the “retweeting Tweeter’s”) followers, who are not necessarily mutual friends, will also have seen it.


Secondly, you can see from the screenshot that two jobs have been posted, and a bursary opportunity for budding mechanical engineers. The Tweeters on these occassions appear to be recruitment/careers guidance organisations.


And so there we have it. Within about 20 seconds, and by using a randomly selected hashtag which contained the word jobseeker, I managed to unearth some data which is instantly informative.

From the jobseekers perspective, I could see that another user was asking for help with their covering letter. Maybe I should try that as well, or check out what help that person received in the end? Also, I could see instantly that there was a steady stream of jobs being posted online. Maybe I could follow those Twitter accounts too, or find others which are more suitable for my own job search goals?

From my own research perspective, this small search demonstrates the networking potential of social media tools, which just wouldn’t be available in an offline environment. For example, asking for help across geographical boundaries, from people with whom you don’t necessarily share an existing network connection. It is also possible to receive a constant stream of job updates from organisations, direct to your mobile phone.


According to job search theory, there are three types of strategies jobseekers generally use. (1) focused, (2) exploratory, and (3) haphazard.

It’s safe to say that my experiment was a mixture of (2) & (3). But despite the lack of focus, and relative lack of effort, it was a reasonably fruitful information seeking attempt. From a networking sense, it could easily have led to me connecting with organisations, and increasing my levels of social capital.

More from the experiment to follow soon…




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