BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Too many cooks …

I had heard mention of The Twitter Job Search Guide: Find a Job and Advance Your Career in Just 15 Minutes a Day via a Tweet by @HRMargo, congratulating one of its authors on its publication. I dug around a bit, looked at the promotional stuff about it, and contacted the publishers to request a review copy (kindly provided to me by the folks at Jist), which I only rarely do. This is one of the reasons that I'm sorry that I'm not more enthusiastic about this than I am. This is a book that I should have seriously connected with, given that it is titularly about both the main thrust of my own job search, and most of what I write about over at the Tribune's Chicago Now blog, The Job Stalker. However, I found it oddly irritating, for reasons that took me a while to sort out.

It would only be fair to say, as is often the case when I'm “reacting” to books this way, that much of the dissonance I felt with this no doubt comes from my “not being like the other kids on the block”, and, to my ear, much of the advice ladled out here is oriented towards the same old “be a featureless zombie worker fitting a very narrowly-defined slot” that I encounter over and over in my job search reading. Obviously, on this point “your mileage my vary”. However, my core problem with the book is that it's quite a mish-mosh of opinions, not just from the three named authors (which would be quite enough cooks hovering over this particular soup) Susan Britton Whitcomb, Chandlee Bryan, and Deb Dib, but thirty-four “chapter contributors” as well. Due to this cacophony of voices, the tone, focus, organization, and pacing of the book careen wildly from chapter to chapter.

I found it very strange that once the first section of the book discusses Twitter and social media in general, rather than moving to the section with the basic how-to on getting set up and using Twitter, a rather strident section called “Get Branded to Get Landed” comes in second, and only then do they address the actual use of Twitter. If I were a newbie looking at using Twitter as a job search tool, I'd be totally freaked out by this (as if one needed to jump through all those “personal branding” hoops in order to Tweet!), and I'd never have made it to section three. One gets the sense that the first three sections came from the named authors, and that some editorial in-fighting resulted in their strange order, after which the book opens into a torrent of almost random (albeit thematically arranged) material from the crowd of other folks involved.

Of course, the upside of having over three dozen contributors is that they bring a vast lot of information with them, however, the downside is that it's a daunting amount of advice/instruction/opinion to sort through. I've been on Twitter for over three years, and have been using it actively in my job search for more than a year, and I found this off-putting, so, as useful as this “firehose” of verbiage might be, drop for drop, I'm guessing a total Twitter newbie would find this very hard to deal with.

Given these caveats, while this plethora of info is hard enough to even list/discuss here, it is no doubt quite a useful resource, and I have something like a dozen bookmarks stuck in my copy, meaning there was a lot that I intended to go back to. Certainly if you are an individual in a clearly defined job search, with a focused list of what you wanted to do, and where you wanted to do it, you would be able to pick up this book and run with it, as most of the contributors here are very set on those sort of “square block in a square hole” situations (as evidenced by the frequent chastising of the reader about any variance from “on message” communications). Oddly, one of their contributors is quoted saying: “ Nobody is truly one-dimensional and most employers don't want an employee who is.”, in a section immediately preceding a chapter on “discretionary authenticity” which basically outlines the importance of not having any personality (or, at least, what I would recognize as personality) appearing in one's Tweets, which one is also coached to have be 75% about work (oddly, never defined in terms of one's job search) and only 25% about personal concerns!

But, hey, I'm in my sixteenth month “between jobs”, so probably the dancing troupe of HR professionals and “Certified this” and “Certified that” folks who have penned this are right and I'm a moron for having problems with it. Obviously, my approach to the job search hasn't yielded any results that anybody would want to emulate, so I guess that should be a ringing endorsement for The Twitter Job Search Guide!

As this has just come out, and is about a trendy topic, I'm pretty sure that you'll be able to find it at any book vendor with a job/business section. Amazon, of course, has it at a third off, so you might consider that. Again, to me, the authors make using Twitter in one's job search sound positively terrifying, but that's me, and I'm unemployed. If you're a square peg looking to find just the right square hole, this might be the ideal book for you.

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Tags: book review

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