Hiring Online Using Twitter – A Progress Report

From Anne Clelland:

I seek a part-time virtual assistant for Handshake 2.0.

I applied to place job openings with Hokies4Hire in early April, was accepted, and added the virtual assistant's position.  I received one e-mail application in about a week.  While the position ultimately wasn't filled, the candidate's excellent clarifying questions resulted in me creating a page on Handshake 2.0 with a complete job description.

Having been overwhelmed by a hundred or more e-mail replies to queries using Peter Shankman's Help a Reporter Out – HARO service, I hesitated to use my Twitter account to advertise the job opening.  I feared the response would backlog my inbox to needing a billion virtual assistants rather than one.

Yet the fundamental business principle of "It's who you know" underpins the power of Twitter.  Someone who knows me, might know someone, who knows someone, who wants to be a virtual assistant.

On April 13, I posted this update:

"Blacksburg-based, part-time, virtual assistant sought for Handshake 2.0. Details: http://tinyurl.com/db82u3"

On April 15, I received an e-mail application.  While the position ultimately wasn't filled, the candidate's questions again helped me write a more specific job description.

Since Handshake 2.0 focuses on a regional economy, I prefer a candidate who is regionally-based.  I currently have 299 unanswered e-mails in my inbox (probably half of them still lingering from HARO).  I need an assistant located anywhere. 

I posted this tweet on April 22:

"Virtual assistant position open with Handshake 2.0. Very flexible hours, i.e. on your schedule, part-time http://tinyurl.com/db82u3"

According to Twitter search, 4 people re-tweeted it.  To use Z. Kelly Queijo's Twitter Power 5K formula, if I add up their followers, plus mine, the information from my original tweet appeared in the Twitter streams of over 5500 Twitter followers. 

The limits of the power of Twitter are the limits of human interactions:  You can't make me read or act on your tweet.  I choose.  And I can't make you read or act on mine.

Good.  I respect and cherish the limits of the power of Twitter.

I received one e-mail reply, without a résumé.  Our brief correspondence included from the candidate, "Bring it on!", which I did find amusing.  Still haven't received that résumé.

What's a gal with 299 unread e-mails – now 325 – to do?

Continue to experiment with the use of social media for business purposes.

To Twitter, I'll add a blog post.

Here's the link to the page describing the position for a Virtual Assistant with Handshake 2.0.  I've copied and pasted the text below.  As soon as I post this, I'll tweet it.  I'll share what happens – in a blog post on Handshake 2.0, on Twitter, maybe Facebook…


Virtual Assistant for Handshake 2.0

Job Description

Ideally, you are located in the New River Valley of Virginia so you're familiar with our locale and clientele.

You are skilled at working online and one of your strengths is checking off items on a to-do list or task list. You are Internet savvy, learn online applications easily, and can write well enough to document your work and progress. You have your own Internet connection, can work at your own location on your own schedule, and can still meet deadlines. 

You operate as an independent contractor, track your hours, and invoice Handshake 2.0 at the end of each month.  You are open to submitting your address and Social Security Number, SSN, or Employer Identification Number, EIN, to our accounting firm, Hodges, Jones and Mabry.  (Once a contractor is paid over $300, a tax statement is issued and a report made to the IRS of your earnings.  Hodges, Jones and Mabry would send you that form at the beginning of 2010 for your 2009 tax return.)
You have a complete LinkedIn profile or are open to establishing one via invitation from Handshake 2.0.  (This is one of the ways businesses and professionals establish credible identity online, a rough equivalent to Facebook for biz.  Here's an example from Handshake 2.0's Anne Giles Clelland.)

After one month of a mutually beneficial work relationship, you will be listed as a team member on Handshake 2.0's About Page with a link to your LinkedIn URL.


$10 per hour, maximum of 5 hours per week


Self-awareness. Self-discipline. If you have great ideas and love to initiate new projects, or need to work with a team or to be supervised to complete tasks, please don't apply for this job. We'll have other jobs for you later. We're a fast-paced, high-tech start-up and, right now, we need people who can execute task lists unsupervised. 

How It Works

You receive a series of e-mails, each containing a specific task with a deadline, always with at least a 24-hour lead time.  You work on each task at your own pace, complete the task, and reply to the e-mail to let the sender know the task has been completed.  You keep a list of the tasks, track the time you spend on each task, and use that to document your monthly invoice.  Regardless of the state of items on the task list, you keep connected to the people and the process by e-mailing a progress update every 48 hours.

On the Current To-Do List

  • Hourly wages for up to 3 hours for you to train yourself to gain a beginning level of proficiency with TypePad, particularly how to link text to other sites.
  • Find answers to questions online with either original or primary sources, and/or credible, authoritative secondary sources with links to verify the data. 
  • Example question #1:  Find a link that verifies that Oprah had a Buddhist monk on her TV show who said something like, “On my deathbed, I won’t think, 'I wish I had worked harder' or 'I wish I had made more money.'  I’ll think, 'Did I love well?  Was I well-loved?'"

  • Example question #2:  Find 3 local (New River Valley, Virginia) companies/individuals who can take single musical compositions, each burned onto a CD, and turn those compositions into single mp3 files.  Provide prices for each, and rank the three providers in your order of recommendation.
  • Much of the data you will seek online will be statistics to support or refute business-related assertions or theories.
  • Hourly wages for up to 3 hours for you to train yourself (including approximately 1 1/2 hours of online training via video) to gain a beginning level of proficiency with AttaainCI,  particularly how to set up e-mail alerts and how to derive keyword lists for companies in different industries.
  • Write a few sentences or a paragraph answering, explaining, or describing an online text selection, an image, or a video.
  • Be open to serendipitously finding information related to tasks on the to-do list and be open to suggesting it.
  • Check new blog posts, make sure the links work (if you catch any typos, reporting them would be great, but it's not part of the job).
  • Upload specified images to clients' business Facebook pages – for example VT KnowledgeWorks.

Application Instructions

  1. Review the site and see if our mission matches yours.
  2. Find an answer to Example question #1.
  3. Send us an e-mail – [email protected] – with an answer to Example question #1 and a résumé attached. 
  4. In the body of the e-mail, pitch us on what you can do for us.

Thank you for your interest!

Connecting People in the RNR - The Online-Offline Regional Divide
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