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Aaron Strout

Aaron Strout
Vice President of New Media
Citizen Marketer

Aaron Strout : Citizen Marketer

Hiring in a "2.0" World
Today's Hiring Process
We're in the process of hiring for several positions here at Mzinga. Given the fact that we are a company focused on building community for other businesses, the thought occurred to me that I might start practicing what we preach in the world of recruiting. In order to do this, changes to the existing process need to be made.

Like many other companies, here's what our basic hiring process looks like today:
  • Open a job requisition
  • Write job description
  • Post job description
  • Take in resumes
  • Call/e-mail back potential candidates
  • Interview leading candidates
  • Hire the best candidate (in a perfect world at least)

Don't get me wrong, you can obviously get good candidates this way. For instance, when I needed to hire a marketing manager a year ago, I followed the process above and posted my job description to one of the oldest communities on the Web i.e. Craigslist. The result was impressive - 30+ resumes in 48 hours and several qualified candidates. However, what was broken about the process is that I ended up spending the better part of two weeks doing interviews. This go around, I don't have that same luxury so I need to find a better way to locate the best possible candidates with the right skill sets.

What's Broken | How to Fix It
The two biggest issues I have with the process I've outlined above is one, it's hard to really learn much about a person from a resume. Personally, I've been professionally employed for nearly 20 years now and I'll be damned if 3-4 pages in a Word document can do just to my experience during that time. Seth Godin talks more about this problem in one of his recent posts (thanks to @drthomasho for passing that post along.)

Now I understand that this is a necessary evil but that's where the power of community and social networks can really augment the process. In today's world:

My other issue I have is that even if someone looks great on paper, they may not be great in person. Now short of perfecting video conferencing (even that can be gamed), there is no substitute for a face-to-face meetings. However, if I could get a better sense of who someone is first beyond the 25-30 bullets they've used to sum up their career, I may be able to weed out people earlier on in the process. Conversely, I may be end up NOT weeding out someone that would have been cut early because I loved their blog or I know two or three of their colleagues.

What's in this for Me/Us?
If this works I:
  • Can eliminate at least two or three steps from the hiriing process.
  • Don't need to pay a broker - I can post on my communities (Facebook, Twitter and Craigslist)
  • Should have a much higher success rate with whomever I hire because I'll already know a lot about them.

What's in this for You?
  • A competitive salary
  • A great job in a hot market
  • 401(k) plan
  • Medical, dental, and vision insurance
  • You get to work with me!

Why this Might Not Work for Everyone
For people that aren't on social networks and don't blog, my new approach probably may not work. But the people we're looking for really need to be doing both. To that end, back to my "experiment" in hiring using community and social media tools.

The Rules
If you want to apply for one of these two jobs (descriptions below), here are the ground rules:
  1. No resumes. At least not the kind written in MS Word.
  2. If you want to get me your background, do it in the "community way." Either blog about why we should hire you or get me to your profile on LinkedIn (or your preferred social network.)
  3. DON'T e-mail me. If you are a community-centric person, connect with me on Twitter or Facebook - you can DM me on Twitter or email me through Facebook.

Ingenuity and cleverness count!

The Descriptions:

Social Media Marketing Manager OR Sr. Social Media Marketing Manager - located in Burlington, MA

In order to do this job well, you must:

NOTE: @conniecrosby on Twitter told me that I needed to add some "what will you be doing" bullets...
  • Be a great writer - prove this to me with your blog. If you don't blog, your chances of getting this job are slim. The reason you need to be a good writer is that you will be:
    • blogging
    • writing presentations for various C-level executives
    • podcast write ups
    • session descriptions
    • internal communications
    • weekly columns
  • Be detail-oriented - this doesn't mean that you keep all your pencils and notepads on your desk at a 90 degree angle but it does mean that you are VERY organized and that you don't let important items slip through the cracks. You'll be focused on:
  • Love social media! A good lithmus test is whether or not you're active in FB, MySpace, Twitter, or some other social network (company communities/SN's count). LinkedIn and Plaxo sort of count but not as much as some of the others I've mentioned.
    • You will help us evolve our Facebook, Youtube and Twitter strategies
    • You will also be one of several company members that is visible in the social media community
  • Bring High energy! I don't want you bouncing off the walls like you just pounded four cans of Red Bull but you need to be on your game most of the time.
  • Be a hard worker. I am an always on kind of person (just ask my wife.) If this scares you, maybe you shouldn't apply. We promise not to chain you to your desk (that's why God invented laptops and WiFi) but don't expect 9-5 either.
  • Have some marketing in your background. Ideally 3-5 years of experience at a big brand or start up. B2B marketing is a plus.
  • Knowledge of conferences/live events/webinars. We speak and sponsor at a lot of events. Part of this job will be helping with presentations, manning the booth, and pressing the flesh.
  • Podcasting skills or a desire to podcast (this is a nice to have not a need to have.) At a minimum, you will help with podcast production for the "We Show".
  • Have an interest in being a community manager.
  • A bachelors degree (can't get rid of all the "old school" requirements completely.)

PR Director (2.0 version) - located in Burlington, MA

In order to do this job well, you must:
  • Also be a great writer. Blogging is nice but you should at least be able to give us several writing samples that you'r proud of.
  • Be able to collaborate with our executive team to establish PR/AR goals, objectives and metrics (no small task.)
  • Manage our PR agency relationship (yes, you get a team to help you). Focus is on:
    • Developing corporate a communications plan
    • Writing and editing press releases including regular company communications, technology launches, customer case studies, partner releases, etc. (yup, back to the good old-fashioned boring stuff.)
  • Conceive, write and edit bylined articles about relevant technology topics (do it well and you get to be famous!)
  • Track competitive developments and craft creative responses, positioning, depositioning (translation = we measure stuff)
  • Build and maintain relationships with technology, trade, bloggers, podcasters and business reporters in print, broadcast and online media - if you don't understand the term "don't pitch me bro', you may not want to apply."
  • Build and maintain relationships with industry analysts; craft regular communications to key industry and technology analysts
    Manage incoming media requests and conduct/staff interviews  (translation = sucking up is highly encouraged - as long as it's legal.)
  • Develop and manage speaking opportunities, develop speaking platforms for key Mzinga technology and business spokespeople - ideally you can trick our PR agency into doing this for you.
  • Minimum of 6-8 years of experience in PR and analyst relations roles, preferably in enterprise software / B2B high-tech companies, with knowledge in the areas of software, Web 2.0 and emerging technology(but we're open to creative experience)
  • A bachelors degree (can't get rid of all the "old school" requirements completely.)
  • Proven, measurable success in achieving positive PR and AR outcomes (there's that "measurement" word again.)
  • Experience in working with technology media, business/consumer media and industry analysts required
  • Experience in managing external PR agency (this should be easy - you get to tell other people what to do.)
  • Excellent verbal, interpersonal and written communication skills (translation = you must be able to write good & speak good)
  • Demonstrates a sense of urgency and a sense of humor (are you getting the sense that a sense of  humor is a must?)
  • Outstanding, detail-oriented writer and critical editor (yup, no 90 degree angles with pencils and pads but can't let the important stuff slip.)
  • Expertise and success with blogs, social media and other “web 2.0” technologies as PR enablers essential. (Maybe it is a good idea if you know how to blog after all.)
  • Ability to manage and execute multiple projects simultaneously in a fast-moving and competitive environment (if you can juggle - especially stuff that's on fire - you'll be a perfect fit.)

May the best (wo)man win!

UPDATED 3/21: This is what blogger (and Twitter friend) Kate Olsen had to say about this post...
UPDATED 3/22: Shel Israel's thoughts on this experiment. AND Bryan Person's take on the new way of hiring.
UPDATED 4/10: I've now interviewed lots of really good candidates and am hoping to have a final decision on one of the positions soon. Also, I didn't get a chance to post this earlier but US News and World Report picked up on this post.


Fri, Mar 21 2008


Aaron,This is a terrific walk-the-talk approach that we can all benefit from. Enhancing performance with social media knowledge sharing that embraces varying communication styles is so incredibly powerful. Great job!Can I suggest someone? An award winning journalist with your same last name

This is partly why I've been optimizing my name to dominate the first SERP on Google; if people are looking for me, I want to make sure they find me and not some dubious character with the same name :-)

Great ideas. I'm a college professor, and I need to be relaying this kind of information to students. I've passed along via my blog I've long thought that career networking is more about community, and these days community is online.

Red Sox fans would definitely have the leg up on the competition but I'm not an MLB discriminator! ;)<p>Best,Aaron (@astrout)

So the applicants don't have to be Red Sox fans?

Thanks Jared - I'll connect w/ you today!

Aaron, your search is over!

I hired a intern off my blog once. Told applicants not to send resumes but instead write a blog post and tell me why you want the job. I got 1 applicant and she turned out to be the perfect fit.

Aaron, As you know, I've been trying to recruit this way for a bit, now. It started when I posted this video job req: I got a ton of response from it and some amazing replies including this instant classic (have to watch the whole thing) Social Networks are a great recruiting tool. Video on the other hand gets even more amazing results. Why don't you post a video req? :) It worked for me. Let's see that mug.

We (the cool kids) know that Social media allows us to find people in a niche or group and let's us connect to them eaily. Why then is it not natural to the rest of the biz world to want to snuggle up to people and form relationships and even hire. The best interview I've ever had was on a bar stool on a thursday night.I just can't see people looking over a resume for 60 secs and then having someone come in to talk about a career. Isn't it so much easier to get to know someone and then naturally be able to pitch a job?Show me 3 blog posts you've made about yourself and I'll read about you that way. Resumes suck.

great approach, Aaron. It's quite refreshing to see positions like this and companies recruiting in this way. Written between the lines of many 'web' jobs I've encountered are skills like "must endure endless meeting about future meetings rather than exexecuting objectives" or "spend as much time as possible herding cats using Outlook as your primary tool." well done and good luck!

Rick or Blogworld mentions that we should consider a "virtual office" in addition to hiring in a 2.0 way. I guess we'll have to take that one under advisement!Thanks Rick.Best,Aaron (@astrout)

My only question would be if your are following all of the web 2.0y social mediay processes in hiring someone why would you force them to live in MA? If your best candidate and perfect fit lives in Los Angeles, why let the old rules prevent you from hiring that person?

Thanks guys - great feedback. It sounds like (according to Allen) I still need to talk a little more about "what you will do" in the actual job descriptions. I'll update tomorrow. Stay tuned!Best,Aaron (@astrout)

Kick ass, my man. This is the way to hire in the new world. I can't wait to hear more about the process. If I were interested in moving to Mass, I'd even throw my (very expensive) hat in the ring. Heh.

Here's something for you to consider Aaron... you've noted a ton of information about the position, but only 5 short bullets about why I might want the SMO job (one which I would totally kick arse). In this social media world, where traditional resumes printed on fine bond are out, you need to sell me on working for you/Mzinga as much as I need to sell you on why you might want me in the role.Perhaps point me to other Mzinga employee profiles that I can talk to so I can get an inside look.It goes both ways :)-- Allen

I think this is a great idea! As a department head who has had to interview teacher candidates, I would have loved to know more about them outside their resumes. If they didn't have a social network, I would know that they didn't use the computer too much and if they did, that would be a plus in their favor. I'm interested in hearing the results of this and what you would change in this process. I hope you keep us updated on this. By the way, I do follow you on twitter so let us all know how this works out. Good luck.

This is great, and so me! My basic philosophy of applying/hiring: honesty. I have a severe disability in that I can't be anyone but myself, in interviews, online, in real life or otherwise. I am high energy and always a cheerleader; stifling interview processes and boring line-by-line resumes are painful for me. The traditional ideal of airbrushed-perfection-in-a-suit goes against my grain like rubbing a cat the wrong way. Don't get me wrong, I'm accomplished and gathered deep respect along the way, but I feel like an idiot going through the "I'm qualified" motions when it is more important for both the employers and me to determine if we're a good fit, if my creativity cup will runneth over with inspiration from the challenges, how this opportunity will fulfill us both with the satisfaction of making a difference in someone's life and work. The work/life dichotomy shouldn't exist, it should just be called 'balance' and be seamless. I hope more employers adopt your 'hiring a whole person' approach and leave the 'can they do the job' questions to the HR interns who can scan the lifeless line of resumes for the basic requirements.

I'm channeling Mario Sundar at the moment, who essentially got his job at LinkedIn from his blog posts ( I'll be interested to see how this plays out for you -- "no resumes" is very gutsy, I admit!

Aaron,Great post here. I think your approach is a great leap forward in recruiting practices -- especially in the online community space. Leveraging recommendations and networking will definitely ease the burden of having to sift through a mountain of resumes. My current 9-to-5 is currently looking to fill several positions -- UX developer types -- and the time it takes to move through the "old world" hiring process is killing us.The downside, of course, is that you'll be eliminating a segment of (potentially) qualified candidates because their current employer frowns upon blogging openly about their work or posting their resume on LinkedIn. Given the space in which you're hiring, I would assume that this segment would be small, but you never know where good candidates come from.Keep us posted here about your efforts!- Bryan (

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