Local PR firm uses Facebook votes to select company’s next summer intern

Fast Horse Inc. will rely on new social media to select candidates.

by Miranda Taylor

A small Minneapolis public relations firm has added a twist to todayâÄôs already competitive job market by giving anyone with a Facebook account the power to vote on who the companyâÄôs next summer intern âÄî and potential future employee âÄî will be. The company, Fast Horse Inc., has already hired five interns through connections made on Facebook. âÄúIt seemed like a natural step to let the Facebook community vote on qualified applicants when weâÄôve already been getting applications through Facebook,âÄù said John Reinan, senior director of Fast Horse. The company is calling for qualified college graduates to submit a video cover letter in addition to a standard paper résumé. Following this FridayâÄôs submission deadline, the applications will be narrowed down to three finalists through interviews conducted via Skype. After the finalistsâÄô videos have been posted on the Fast Horse Experience Facebook page, applicantsâÄô campaigns for their candidacies will begin. âÄúOne of the skills we hope to find in an intern is someone who knows how to build buzz on social media,âÄù Reinan said. Students who applied for the internship are already gearing up for a competition. âÄúI plan to contact every single person I know, or barely know, and tell them to get on Facebook; tell them to get everyone on Facebook,âÄù said Eric Schwab, a 2009 University of Minnesota graduate who submitted an application to the company. Dustin Lewis, a University of Oregon business administration and sports marketing major also looking to win the paid internship, said that Twitter and Facebook are the keys to success. âÄúProbably everyone is planning on using those two sites heavily,âÄù he said in an e-mail. To the best of ReinanâÄôs knowledge, no one else has ever left the final decision of who gets hired up to Facebook fans before, he said. âÄúWeâÄôre in the business of creative thinking,âÄù Reinan said. Both Lewis and Schwab said that submitting a video component alongside an application is unusual. âÄúItâÄôs a lot different than what a lot of other companies are doing right now,âÄù Schwab said. When applying, âÄúyou have to not only think about impressing a company; you have to think about impressing other people.âÄù But, is all the added pressure of appealing to two audiences the way things are headed? Should we expect to see more social media and video-based components to job applications in the future? University professor Joseph Konstan, who specializes in human-computer interactions, said people should expect to see more social media incorporated into the hiring process in years to come. However, Konstan said job seekers shouldnâÄôt expect to see social media outlets such as Facebook make an appearance in all fields of hire. âÄúIf you were trying to hire a doctor and your qualification was how well you, as a doctor, could get people to vote for you online, that would have nothing to do with whether or not you were qualified,âÄù he said. Konstan predicts that an increase in social media usage in the hiring process will only be seen in fields where social media and its use is applicable. In marketing, for example, networking and social media play a significant role. Facebook representative Elizabeth Linder said she sees room for growth. âÄú[We] look forward to seeing people use Facebook in powerful and interesting ways that we couldnâÄôt even have imagined five years ago,âÄù she said in an e-mail.