How to Use Twitter to Change Careers

Used strategically, this online tool can help you land a job in a new industry.

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[See Why You Should Ditch the Quest for the Perfect Career.]

Understand the power of lists. One way to identify those thought leaders and influential people to follow is through lists. Piggyback on someone else's list—Listorious is one resource that helps you find them—or create your own list of experts, which shows you know who's who in your target field. To easily keep up with your lists, pull them into a Twitter application like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. "It's just a matter of following the industry that you want to be in," Sarikaya says, "and just absorbing and jumping into the conversation when you can, because that's how people get to know you."

Follow industry hashtags. This will help you find new information and more relevant people to follow. To figure out which hashtags might be of interest, look through streams of industry leaders you've identified. Some hashtags represent chats, yet another opportunity to interact with people who work in your target field and earn their respect. If you're under 30, Sarikaya suggests following #u30pro—that stands for under-30 professionals—for career-development conversations that can apply to any field.

Attend tweetups. These in-person meetings are excellent opportunities to bring Twitter connections offline and develop personal relationships so your contacts feel comfortable recommending you. Most tweetups have an accompanying hashtag, so identify the hashtags in your industry and you'll likely stumble upon these networking opportunities.

Maintain focus. It's easy to get sucked into Twitter and forget why you're there, Doyle says. Look to broaden your horizons and acquire new knowledge and contacts, but don't lose sight of your goal. Remain professional and look at your own Twitter stream every few weeks to make sure you're presenting yourself in a way that will help you move forward.