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Best Buy Hired Based on Twitter Followers

2009 July 14
by Richard N. Landers
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Hot on the heels of Montana wanting to know what’s in your Facebook profile is Best Buy requiring 250 twitter followers to be for a marketing position.

Now, I understand that a position titled “senior social media manager” is likely to involve heading out to the interwebs to check on the social scene, but this requirement’s a bit specific, isn’t it?  And where are the other social technologies?  Twitter isn’t the only game out there, and it will likely fade into the mists in three or four years like all trendy things eventually do.

So then what happened?  I think this is a textbook example of a company creating hiring requirements with only a vague idea of what they want from the person they hire.  I imagine something like the following occurred:

  1. Executive 1 says, “A lot of people are talking about social networking. Let’s get a social networking person.”
  2. Executive 2 says, “I’ve been reading about Twitter.  Let’s make sure they know how to use Twitter.”
  3. HR says, “OK.”

Now, I’m not saying that requiring familiarity with Twitter is necessarily a bad thing.  It is clearly grabbing a great deal of attention right now.  But what is the underlying skill that these executives are really interested in?  Social media fluency perhaps?

The best way to have gone about this would be the following:

  1. Conduct a job analysis if this position already exists to determine what KSAOs (knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics) are actually relevant to the job.  If it doesn’t already exist, consult those that want to hire this person to find out what tasks they might be involved in.
  2. After you determine the KSAOs relevant to the job, consult SMEs (subject matter experts) to determine how you might test for these KSAOs.  Presumably, if you’re hiring a senior manager, you already have some other managers – these are your experts.  Are there standard tests for some of these skills?  Could your experts make one?
  3. Use the test as part of your selection process.

This is likely to produce a much better result than simply hiring people with an arbitrary number of followers on an arbitrarily chosen website.  Imagine the person that you hire on Twitter experience alone – how can you know that this Twitter expert will be good at anything else?

Unfortunately, the position has already been filled, so there’s no way to see what other requirements Best Buy had.  I just hope their selection process here involved a little more than “check his tweets.”

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