If job seekers don't already have enough reasons to always put their professional foot forward, some hiring managers use Twitter to get a sense for what applicants talk about online, which may help them determine whether that candidate would be a good fit for the company. "We found Twitter was a really awesome way to get this true representation of who that person was outside of the context of the typical recruiting process, where someone knows they're being evaluated," says Joe Fahrner, CEO and co-founder of InboxQ, a social-lead generation company. He used Twitter to find and hire a software developer, though his seven-person company is too small to have a jobs-only handle.
Specifically, Fahrner watches how candidates interact with others and whether they demonstrate what he calls "thought leadership." He finds potential candidates by entering industry keywords into Twitter's search to find people who discuss the tools and strategies he wants his next hire to understand.
Indeed, hiring managers behind company job handles don't always wait for the candidates to come to them. Caitlin Goldstein, a corporate recruiter for Medifast, a weight-loss program provider, says she's had success filling positions by scouting workers who have the skill sets Medifast needs. She calls them "passive candidates," because they may not be job hunting. In fact, many candidates she approaches are already employed but still open to new opportunities.
Goldstein uses Twellow, a Twitter search directory that serves as a digital version of the Yellow Pages, to find people with the skills she seeks. But she also looks to connect on Twitter with candidates who have already applied for positions and found the company through other means. For example, when candidate Gary Bacon included his Twitter handle on the resume he submitted for a web designer position, she sought him out on the social networking site.
"They reached out to me and said, 'We wanted to talk with you more,'" says Bacon, 27, who now works for the company. "It seemed more personable to me."
That's the goal, says Goldstein, one of several employees who tweets for @MedifastCareers, which launched in January. "Twitter has really allowed us to be a lot more approachable," she says. "We're able to share things about us and about the company."
The lesson here for job seekers? Provide value in your Twitter stream, showcase what you're good at, and participate in quality conversations. Tweet smartly about the field you want to work in—which means you'll naturally include industry keywords—and your next job may find you.
Job hunters with a specific employer in mind should check the careers page on that company's website to find out whether they have a Twitter account, or simply ask Google. Another helpful source is @JobHuntOrg's list of nearly 500 recruiting-specific handles. (@USNewsCareers tweets tips about landing and keeping a job, not open positions at U.S. News.)
Those who don't yet use Twitter but are eager to learn about its potential should consider becoming familiar with the tool and building up an audience before trying to connect with an employer.
"If there's a job that you want or a goal that you have or a particular company you want to work with, be proactive about engaging in conversation," says Fahrner, who suggests asking questions about the company or the job or finding a subtle way to brag about yourself. "If you can cut through the traditional noise of applying for a job at a big organization by speaking directly to the person whose job it is to find great candidates, then you can put yourself at a great advantage."