Compared with social media job search heavyweights like LinkedIn, Twitter often flies under the radar as a tool for job search success. Don’t let that underdog status fool you, though. Our own Elizabeth Magill walks us through Twitter’s surprising job search staying power – all in 140 characters or less.
How can Twitter be so effective?
Twitter is all about enabling users to send out brief messages to large audiences. As a job seeker, you can use this to your advantage on multiple fronts including:
- Finding hidden job leads
- Networking with industry insiders
- Researching companies and interviewers
- Building your personal brand within the industry
In order to get the maximum job search benefit from Twitter, you need to develop a strategy for achieving your specific goals.
Once you do, job search success is literally at your fingertips.
Twitter for Identifying Hidden Job Leads
The big question that may be on your mind, particularly if you think of Twitter was primarily a tool for personal use, is this: “Where does one begin when using Twitter for a job search?”
Step One: Assuming you’ve already created your Twitter account, you should then begin with the follow button. It’s easy. Start following people in your field and organizations you’d like to work for.
Many companies will tweet about new opportunities before jobs are widely posted. Industry insiders also tweet about interesting new developments you should be aware of — company expansions, hiring trends, and more.
Tip: You may also want to follow employees of the companies you’re interested in working for. They are often the best source of insider information when those companies are hiring or preparing to hire.
Step Two: Join the conversation when it’s relevant to your industry. Retweet sage advice. Offer words of wisdom based on your experience in the industry. Get to know the people who are discussing your industry on Twitter and give them an opportunity to get to know you. Add some “Twitter friends” to your network.
Step Three: Take advantage of hashtags (#). Avid social media enthusiasts understand the importance of hashtags, but if you’re new to the world of Twitter, or just beginning to consider it for your job search needs, the hashtag can help you quickly find available opportunities.
Popular hashtags for your job search include:
- #Hiring or #NowHiring
- #Graduate Jobs
Don’t forget to look for a career and industry-specific hashtags too, like:
- #Freelance (in case you’re looking for quick or temporary jobs while the main job search continues)
Step Four: Get a little help. When it comes to looking for leads on Twitter, you don’t have to go it alone (or get overwhelmed by the flood of Twitter conversations every hour). There are plenty of apps available that will help you identify potential leads, as well as websites that will help assist you in finding jobs on Twitter.
For instance, sites like TweetMyJobs.com deliver custom-tailored job leads directly to your Twitter feed. TweetMyJobs is a trusted recruiting tool for many big companies that utilize social media for finding candidates (and all of them do in some capacity now)
A strategic job search effort requires more than simply finding available jobs, however, and Twitter is an excellent tool for multiple fronts including the next stage, which involves networking.
Twitter for Networking
There really is only one major rule when it comes to networking on Twitter. It’s this: “Be someone worth following.”
How do you become someone worth following on Twitter?
These tips will help you keep your Twitter feed filled with items that will reflect well upon you in your job search efforts.
- Share tips
- Share industry news
- Answer industry-related questions quickly, but thoughtfully
- Share valuable links
- Be active on Twitter
- Be generous and share the thoughts of others too
- Make connections in-person by connecting with Twitter peers at conventions and other networking events
Important Tip: Avoid following spammers who fill up your feed with links for their services or goods when possible. If you follow one by accident, unfollow quickly as a Twitter feed filled with spam and questionable links can harm your credibility.
For other social media networking tips, read Big Interview’s blog post: 15 Power Tips for Using Your Social Network to Find a Job.
If you’ve been looking for a job for some time, here’s how to stay positive during a job search.
Lightbulb Networking Idea One:
Consider using Twitter to get more proactive in your networking efforts. For some, it may be worth creating a blog on a niche area of your industry and tweeting to direct users to your blog. This helps to build your credibility within the industry and solidify your brand with potential employers.
Lightbulb Networking Idea Two:
Hashtags can work for you in multiple ways. It’s true you can use them in order to find job openings as mentioned above, but you can also use them to announce that you are available for work.
Some consider it a little brazen, but if you’ve followed the networking advice above, you’ve presented yourself as a professional, made the appropriate contacts, and established your credibility in the field by now.
It’s the perfect time to use a little self-promoting hashtagging to let potential employers know you’re available.
Self-promoting hashtags to consider include:
- #Hire(insert college nickname or mascot) Princeton Career Services recommends this nifty trick for getting employer attention.
Beyond the scope of networking, though, Twitter is an extremely useful tool for enhancing your efforts to research various companies as well as interviewers you may come across in your efforts to work for certain organizations.
Twitter for Researching Companies / Interviewers
Twitter is a great tool for getting to know people and businesses. Learn about the business, from an employee’s point of view, by following the people who work for the organization. You can generally tell if they are shouting out the virtues of their employer or view work as essentially another four-letter word.
You can also learn a great deal about the company culture by observing company-posted tweets and responses to the tweets of others. Use Twitter to learn the following things and more:
- Have there been recent changes within the organization or structure of the company, new products, or industry-shaking news?
- How does the company define the position you’re applying for? Your idea and the company’s idea of a position or title are not always identical.
- What is the background of the people you’ll be working with (specializations, fields, education, etc.)?
- Who are the company’s major competitors and how does your future employer (let’s be optimistic) stand out?
The more you know about the company before going into an interview, the better prepared you are to impress them with your knowledge.
Note: For additional information on learning about companies, read Big Interview’s blog post: The Job Seeker’s Guide to Company Research.
Get to Know Your Interviewer Before the Interview
If you’ve made it past the initial screening steps and are preparing for an interview, Twitter is invaluable – particularly if you know the name of the person conducting the interview. You don’t even have to follow the interviewer in order to read his or her posts or view the person’s profile, which is something you definitely want to do.
Investigating the interviewer enables you to gain personal insight about the person who holds your employment fate in his or her hands. It also allows you to find some common ground personally and professionally.
If your interviewer is active on Twitter, you may be able to find details beyond the LinkedIn profile — like a sense of your interviewer’s personality, the aspects of the industry that are most interesting to him/her, etc.
Your main objective in an interview is to be memorable. Understanding the person conducting the interview allows you to do this in two important ways.
1) Find the specialization of the person conducting the interview in your field and use the interview as an opportunity to display your expertise and knowledge in that particular area.2) Find a shared hobby or interest, outside of the workplace, and find a way to weave that into your interview questions. This could be anything from being a train enthusiast to having a shared interest in an obscure musical group.
One word of warning: Don’t get too personal. You want to come across as someone who does your interview homework, but NOT as a stalker.
Making an authentic connection with your interviewer is the goal. You want to stand out from the crowd of other qualified candidates — and a little inside information can definitely help you when you only have 30-40 minutes (typical interview) to make your case.
Twitter for Strengthening Your Personal Brand
As your job search continues, the importance of building your personal brand becomes more significant. Beyond the initial job search, though, continuing to build your brand throughout your career will open many doors for you that would otherwise remain closed.
Twitter is an outstanding tool for building your personal brand – especially as it relates to your career or job search efforts. Your goal, when looking for a job, is to stand out in your field. You want people to recognize your name as an expert. While it’s great to have your little niche or area where you’re the “go-to” expert of choice, it’s equally important to display a broad understanding of your industry in general.
In addition to the lightbulb idea mentioned above of establishing an industry-related blog to help solidify your brand, don’t overlook the importance of participating in Twitter conversations, chats, networking experiences, and general conversations to help you show off your deep understanding of industry-specific matters.
If you establish a strong professional reputation through Twitter (even when you’re not looking for a job), your future career progression will be much easier. Companies will come looking for you.
Why is Twitter important for building your brand?
While it’s great to have your name on Twitter, not everyone is searching for you specifically. Some people are searching for an expert in your industry. You want your name to be one of the first names they find. The reason you want to be on Twitter is that Twitter is where many people are taking this type of search. It’s fast, convenient, and public, which is not necessarily the case with Facebook or LinkedIn.
This means they can find you based on the brand you’ve built for yourself and the openness of search features on Twitter.
But that’s not all!
When potential employers are doing their due diligence to research you, specifically, through social media mediums, like Twitter, they’ll see what you want them to see – the brand you’ve created. Twitter gives you the simplest opportunity of all to do that by building a profile, linking to your blog, and building a network that paints a positive image of you as a person and as a leader in your industry.
More importantly, businesses may become suspicious or view it as a red flag if they can’t find you through social media outlets. In fact, according to the recent JobVite Social Recruiting Survey, 92 percent of businesses either use or plan to use social media recruiting. You need to build your brand in a location where you’re likely to be discovered and Twitter is an excellent place to begin.
How to Build Your Brand on Twitter
While you must find your own personal voice to use to communicate on Twitter while building your brand, there are certain mechanics involved as well.
Step One: Participate often. Twitter isn’t like LinkedIn or Facebook. The messages are short and you require more frequent and mindful participation in order to build your personal brand. Plan to participate in short bursts, several times a day. This ensures your message is seen by people who participate at different times during their day. If you have time constraints that prohibit that frequency, plan to tweet at least once per day.
Step Two: Keep your message simple. While you want to present yourself as an expert in your field, you must be relatable or you will lose your audience and some of your brand power.
Step Three: Engage your audience. Conversations require more than one voice. Ask for feedback. Offer feedback. Participate in conversations and you’ll make valuable connections – both seen and unseen – that go a long way towards solidifying your brand.
Step Four: Make it viral. Ask people to retweet your message. This means the message will be seen by even more people than you’d normally reach and more connections will be made between your name, your message, and the brand you’re building.
Step Five: Use photos and videos to improve engagement and interest. SearchEngineWatch reports that photographs and videos were the most effective components used in Twitter. Other components to note include:
The most important thing when building your personal brand on Twitter for job search purposes, though, is to use your own voice, thoughts, and opinions, rather than adopting a character or persona.
Do’s and Don’ts for Twitter Job Search Success
If you’re looking for true success from your Twitter job search efforts, then there are a few best practices rules you should follow, including those listed below.
Do create a thoughtful and complete profile that associates you with the industry in which you are seeking employment.
Do include your Twitter “handle” on your resumes and applications. This provides employers an opportunity to find you more easily and lets them know you feel you have nothing to hide.
Do be mindful in what you say and add value to the conversations you begin and the ones you join. That doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and carry on real conversations. It does mean, though, that you need to keep the language you use and the way you present yourself through Twitter professional.
Do make sure your posts reflect well upon you as a person and as someone businesses will want to hire. Remember this from the start as you build your Twitter profile and develop your career search plan: the Internet has a long memory.
Don’t make posts that may present you in an unfavorable light. While Twitter may be a medium to communicate with friends, what you post on Twitter can prevent you from getting the job you seek. One of three employers have rejected job candidates based on things they find in social media profiles, reports the Muse.
Don’t polarize topics and statements about news, current events, politics, and religion while using Twitter to enhance your job search. Stick to lighter topics or industry-related topics instead.
Don’t forget to include a professional-looking headshot in your profile in order to make a favorable impression with potential employers.
If you haven’t been taking advantage of Twitter as a job search tool, it’s time to jump in. When used intelligently, Twitter can have a profound impact on your job search success – or lack thereof.
Small steps can help you turn Twitter into your own personal job search platform. Try them today and see what a difference they make in your overall job search success.