But is it the answer to your unemployment?
What started as an addictive platform embraced by ladies, who commonly posted fashion, interior design and recipes (guilty as charged), was quickly descended upon by companies hoping to gain traction in the new social space that boasted more than 3 per cent of all referral traffic online. That's more than Google+, Reddit, LinkedIn and Myspace combined. We use the site at Forbes to highlight some of our more visually stunning real-estate and car coverage, as well as to archive some of the awesome photos taken for the issue. Seems about right.
In a post this morning, contributor Erica Swallow warned companies (including ours) against "haphazardly joining Pinterest" without a smart, well-considered strategy. Namely, "posting visually stimulating, marketing-free content" intended for the site's key demographic of "mature female consumers." Keep that in mind, she wrote, and you should be golden. I'm with you, Erica. But when the Brazen Careerist told job searchers that the "it-girl" of social media could be just the ticket to landing your dream job, I actually laughed at my editor.
Oh, heck no, I thought. A quick check-in with my own Pinterest feed (boards include: Stripes, Dream Rooms and Foods To Eat), unless I was hoping to land a job at Martha Stewart Living, I can't see how my keen eye for design and delicious things would pique the interest of a headhunter or human resource executive.
But digging further, it seems my own user habits might be blinding me from all Pinterest has to offer. On his blog, Career Enlightenment, Joshua Waldman, the author of Job Searching With Social Media For Dummies writes that it's best to consider Pinterest as just another outlet for exposure – and one with an audience of 11 million users and counting. His tips include how to perfect your "about me" section and curate your interests through pins and repins to build your personal brand on the site. On whether it works:
"Can Pinterest get you a job? As with any kind of business decision, you have to consider the [return on investment] In our case, the ROI of social media is landing a job. So: is Pinterest worth it? In sum: Yes. When you look into the data that's flying around about the success of Pinterest, leveraging those stats will help get your personal brand in front of more eyes and more people who will hire you for your talents."
Social media educator Jason Keath agrees that Pinterest could possibly help with exposure, but warns against it being the "next big thing" in job seekers hoping to embrace social media. "Every time something new comes out, people are looking to leverage its elements in different ways to stand out," he says. "It could definitely be used as a visual résumé, especially in fields like marketing where people are already highly active on Pinterest. It adds a new element." But will Pinterest be the answer to our unemployment problem? He says no. "If people are really using Pinterest as a job-searching tool, I don't think it's any more than a handful of users."
On the Brazen Careerist, Brie Reynolds posits that Pinterest can be used for more than just exposure on the job-hunt, and says that users should take advantage of the fact that many big (albeit trendier) companies – including Whole Foods and Zappos – have boards to follow. These boards can be used for intel. "Are they buttoned-up or casual? What's their main marketing focus? What language do they use to talk about themselves and their products," she writes. "These insights can help you craft stand-out, tailored job applications that show you've done your homework and understand the company."
Fair enough, social media experts. You may have shown me the light. I understand creating a persona out there for all the world to see, and I can appreciate the need for inside information on a company before interviewing. But while putting your interests on display and learning how to speak to a prospective employer are important, can either trick actually land you a job? Sure, both Ms. Reynolds and Mr. Waldman say it's a good move to put your portfolio – and even résumé – up on a board, but are employers really combing Pinterest for candidates?
I would posit no (although Martha Stewart, if you're looking, follow me @Meg_Casserly), at least not yet. Still, consider Mr. Waldman's initial question of return on investment: American users of Pinterest spend an average of 1 hour and 17 minutes trolling the site, well ahead of LinkedIn (17 minutes), where over 150 million professionals have posted their hopes for career advancement.
Suddenly spending 17 minutes creating a professional Pinterest board suddenly seems like a great use of time.