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Writing Test May Be Required for Hiring 2.0 (or Maybe We Interview With Blogs?)

Posted by Bob Warfield on September 5, 2007

Yet another Seth Godin blog post stopped me in my tracks and made me write a post of my own.  I wish I had Godin’s ability to write these short but pithy thought provokers.  Alas, I am somewhat more long-winded.  But people tell me I can write.  Here are the words that stopped me from Godin’s post (the italics are mine):

If you’re trying to hire someone who presents well to strangers, creates documents without typos, is good at seeking out interesting new opportunities, can think on her feet in an interview and can network with strangers in search of a goal, your current hiring system is probably perfect.

Unfortunately, those skills don’t apply to most jobs.

As a result, we end up hiring people who are good at self-marketing, not at what we need them to do.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the web in terms of Presidential Politics and media.  The popular Media of the day have influenced our choice of leaders for a long time.  What does this have to do with Seth’s quote?  Well consider that in this era of television, we elect actors and others such as Bill Clinton who can project charisma via television.  Godin’s point is that we’re hiring people who project charisma in an interview.  My point is that in a business that’s terribly concerned with the Web, shouldn’t we be considering people who project over that medium?

I’m seriously thinking that everyone in Marketing or Sales or any other customer facing job in my startup needs to be able to express themselves with the written word.  For Marketing people in particular, I’m really going to be drawn to people who can write.  Startups need producers of content anyway.  I’ve seen a few big companies try to farm that out to some agency or another and it has always had terrible results.  The agencies certainly have English majors who can write, but they don’t know what to write about, and the non-writers trying to manage them don’t seem to have many ideas either.

So if you know anyone who presents well to strangers, creates documents without typos, and can network with strangers in search of a goal, send her my way.

3 Responses to “Writing Test May Be Required for Hiring 2.0 (or Maybe We Interview With Blogs?)”

  1. kehegmann said


    I too read Seth’s post and thought…”Hey – I’m that person!” (the one who is a great writer, yet can also connect to strangers to help build business). Maybe I’m the person you’re looking for.

    Check out my blog at for more info.

  2. […] Web 2.0 fluency will start to affect their recruiting patterns.  See my post on this for a related take.  Just as employers will expect fluency, so too will new customers expect the […]

  3. senderok said

    I would agree that, as of mid-2009, you might not want to hire someone for any job involving the web who is not represented on major social media themselves.

    That said, I get daily reports on who just got a VP position at this or that advertising agency or media conglomerate and a quick check of their name often finds 1) no Twitter account or a neglected one talking about inappropriate subjects + 2) neglected or no LinkedIn account and nothing much else.

    We’re talking people getting six figure salaries here. What’s up with that?

    So, yes, anyone in HR might want to weed people out BEFORE the interview by doing these steps:

    Tactfully give the applicant 24-48 hours (they shouldn’t need that) to provide at least 3 social media profiles of themselves including any relevant blog postings. A smart applicant will know to open their Facebook profile (yes, open it because its too good an opportunity to present themselves with imagery and graphics) and spruce it up and write a fresh blog posting on your industry and maybe even one promoting your company…showing that he or she also got a few friends to help promote that blog posting on Digg, Reddit, Stumble + Technorati.

    That is probably too much to ask right now, even in a recession…but it shouldn’t be.

    Note that you wouldn’t explicitly ask them to write a blog posting on your company because you wouldn’t want a poor performance and no hire to result in their updating that post to something that trashes your company. 🙂

    They’re supposed to figure out what your request for them to write a “fresh blog post” should entail.

    Of course you will also want to meet them in person *after* that brief 24-48 hour test and meet them socially in person as well (final step).

    Unless you want to train someone smart, the above would show minimal skills for hiring.

    *Let’s remember that, only a few years ago and even now in some places in the world (mainly the US – Europeans have always had to put photos on resumes), it was considered illegal to ask someone to present themselves visually (because it might show race or age or something that might be discriminated against). Your request can honestly say that they can present themselves via a logo or icon or any appropriate image they want. It really isn’t their personal appearance or demographic that matters on the web.

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