By Angela Loëb
Carol Gibson was just trying to get back home to Austin after the Christmas holidays. Hanging out during a layover at the airport, she wasn’t focused on trying to find a job, but, somehow, a job found her. Here’s her story. It involves crazy weather, Twitter, the media, an inspired moment and serendipity.
Carol was visiting her parents for the holidays at their home in sunny California, about 3 hours outside of San Francisco. The crazy weather was actually happening on the east coast. Unusually harsh blizzards delayed flights all over the country. Carol learned that her flight was cancelled 8 hours before it was scheduled to depart. She called the airline to rebook but couldn’t get through. So her only choice was to make the 3-hour trek to the airport in San Francisco, hoping she could catch the next available flight.
When she arrived at the airport, she was told that she couldn’t fly home for another 3 days! The only alternative was to change airlines. Even though the flight with the new airline wasn’t due to leave until the next day, she took it. She was forced to spend precious funds from an already tight budget on a hotel room.
A Twitter user, Carol (@gibsonic) posted occasional progress reports or “tweets” about her situation using her mobile phone.
Dec 27 – “At SFO wondering how I’ll get back to Austin. Flight cancelled. Maybe this is a sign that Cali wants me back. Or bad weather on the east …”
Dec 27 – “I’m at San Francisco International Airport”
Dec 28 – “Do over (@ San Francisco International Airport)”
Dec 28 – “Progress!! (@ Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport)”
So there she was settling down for her layover in Phoenix on December 28. Then, out of the blue, she got a tweet from a stranger: “Have you been delayed? I’m an AP reporter and would like to chat if so.” The tweet included a phone # to call.
So she responded: “@AmandaLeeAP yep! Was supposed to fly SFO to aus yesterday but had to alter plans. Left my info at phone # you provided.”
The reporter interviewed Carol over the phone, asking to quote her for a print story. Then, while Carol was on the plane from Phoenix to Austin, she was featured in an article which appeared in the St. Louis paper, MSNBC.com and Yahoo.com.
When she landed in Austin, she was contacted by a second reporter who asked permission to record the phone interview. A local talk radio station ran the story, quoting Carol on the air over and over at the top of every hour. Unaware of all the press she was receiving and just happy to be home, her friends began to contact her. They’d either read something about her online or heard her on the radio.
Later, when Carol related the details of her wacky 2-day journey, she told me that she didn’t think she had said anything remarkable to the reporters: “My comments were stuff like, ‘What is there to be angry over? We’re all human – it’s a blizzard.’ And I guess I had a sense of humor about it all. The way I looked at it, I was merely inconvenienced – I didn’t miss a wedding or Christmas. I didn’t have to sleep in the airport nor was I traveling with small children.”
An Inspired Moment
Apparently, Carol did, indeed, say something special to the media, something that, in retrospect, came out of her during an inspired moment. When the AP reporter asked about her profession, she questioned, in her own mind, if she should mention being unemployed. She decided “what the heck” and blurted out, “I’m an unemployed business analyst.” It turns out that swallowing her embarrassment about being unemployed was a smart move.
Several weeks later, Carol received an email through LinkedIn from a representative at a start-up company called Helical Plane: “I saw the story in the news. We’re hiring and would like to talk to you.”
After a couple of rounds of interviewing, Carol was offered a contract job with the opportunity to be considered for a regular, full time position in the future.
“I accepted,” said Carol, “because it’s like a first date. I can see if it will work out.”
In the meantime, Carol is covering her bases. She has recently created her own DBA, Crossbrook Consulting. “I plan to help nonprofits, SMBs and start-up companies with their events, promotions products, etc. I love creative communications work – I guess you could call it ‘unconventional marketing.’ This experience with Twitter and the media reinforced my desire to work with creative communications such as social media to promote causes I believe in.”
Carol’s big takeaways from her experience with Twitter and the media during her job search:
– You never know who’s listening to you and your story.
– Always use positive language about your situation.
– Keep your sense of humor.
– Don’t be embarrassed about saying you’re unemployed.
– Use all of the tools at your disposal.
It seems Carol also learned the value of seizing the moment!