Celebrities like Lady Gaga (approximately 28.8 million Twitter followers) and Justin Bieber (approximately 27.1 million followers) can advance their careers and gain even more notoriety with a 140 character long tweet. But can a job hunter with no followers actually use this site of very short messages to get a job? You bet.
Corporate recruiters and headhunters use Twitter to search for talent every day. They post information and links to current job openings. They search by topic to see who influences any given field, and then they try to recruit them. So much in the business, government, and nonprofit sectors depends on the effective use of social media, so hiring managers expect that well-qualified candidates will be active on sites like Twitter. It is becoming ever more likely that they will check out any serious candidate's tweets to see if they "fill the bill."
Keeping these recruiting tactics in mind, you can make Twitter an effective part of your job hunting strategy. You don't need millions (or even thousands) of followers for it to be a useful arrow in your job-hunting quiver. Here's how:
1. Utilize Twitter's search function to find job openings. Familiarize yourself with how to use functions like AND, OR, and NOT (known as Boolean operators) to search effectively. Also make use of hash tags (the "#" symbol). They serve, in effect, as a topic header to make a tweet easy to find. Include things like: #hiring, #job, #jobs, #careers, and other related words in your search terms. Then add into your search mix your skills, job description, and location. Here are some simple sample search queries you can adapt to your own situation:
- #jobs MA "senior project manager"
- #career NY scientist
- #hiring sales Chicago
- Java programmer jobs San Francisco
In each of these cases, tweets from companies and recruiters appear in the results, with links back to more complete listings and job descriptions for which you can apply. You can also click on the poster's name and follow that individual or company to see what else they have listed, and keep a look out for what else they post in the future that might be relevant to you.
2. Follow leaders and keep lists. Unlike LinkedIn where both parties have to agree to be connected, on Twitter you can follow anyone you want without their permission. (They can choose to block you, but unless you are abusive or there are other specific reasons, this isn't likely.) Search for key leaders in your field and companies you admire/want to work with, and begin to follow them. Use Twitter's list building function to name and create your own lists of companies, individuals, recruiters, and so forth. Then you can simply call up any of your saved lists to see the whole stream of tweets from everyone in that list. This strategy can help to keep you up to date with most recent articles of interest, learn who is doing what, and much more.
3. Put yourself "out there"—carefully. Post tweets about your accomplishments, things you would like to learn about, and things that would be of interest to others in your field. Tweet about a networking event you are planning to attend, retweet (RT) articles that you find interesting from around the Web, and be a source of information for those who will begin to follow you. By showing that you keep up to date with what's going on in your field, and by being helpful to others, you add to the value of your personal brand and bring notice to yourself.
Remember, however, that once you put something online, it is always there. It is important to keep your brand free from controversial topics. You never know the political inclinations, religious background, or other sensitivities of someone who might come upon your tweets. Use this as a rule of thumb: If you wouldn't say something at a job interview, or to your mother—then don't post it on Twitter.
There are numerous other ways to use Twitter in your job hunt, but these three will get you off to a great start. Once you begin, you'll be amazed at how much information you can compact into 140 characters.
Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help mid-career job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.