Several times a year I have need of several extra bodies to complete time-sensitive work in my department. The work is tedious and mind-numbing, but important, and only lasts three to five weeks. Since we are a college campus, we do not have provisions in policy to bring on temporary workers from an agency, so I have to get creative. And the type of people I want are those that need a few hours of part-time work, can buy into what we are trying to do, and have an eye for quality as well as the fingers and brain for speed. It’s specialized work, in many respects, but anyone with decent knowledge of Microsoft Word and no fear of technology can get up to speed pretty quickly.
I have used various methods for hiring these people in the past. I have personally contacted friends or associates that I thought had the right skills, and the open schedule, to do the work. I have sent messages out on listservs that I belong to, and posted fliers at events I have gone to. Over the years I have hired graphic artists/designers, secretaries, Pastor’s wives, geeks, stay-at-home homeschooling moms, paramedics, nurses, and actors. But this semester, I tried something a bit different. Instead of posting on a mailing list or tagging friends or associates individually, I went straight to facebook. I have a lot of friends on my list, and a fair amount of those friends are under employed or unemployed due to the economy, or know people who are. I posted the need for people, and almost immediately hired two people, one who was a friend of a friend (facebook-style) who is a retired secretary, and one who happens to be a neighbor of mine who works in the web design field but was looking for a little part-time income.
It was probably the easiest round of hiring I’ve ever done. Maybe part of it is because there is so much unemployment, but I like to think that facebook has also given me a giant network to tap when needed. It’s not the two hundred or so friends on my friends list; it’s the friends of those friends, that really makes the difference. My ability to find workers in the past has worked, but I have to say this time I had new workers on board within 48 hours of needing them, all from facebook referrals. That’s saying something when what I do is time-sensitive and I don’t have three or four weeks to interview and hire for the open positions.
I had always thought of facebook as a networking tool, but on a much more personal basis, rather than a business basis. It’s nice to discover a dual purpose to something I enjoy so much in the first place!