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The Secret Of Using Twitter To Find A Job

December 1, 2011

There are a lot of articles about using Twitter to find a job but most of them focus on doing simple job searches. While that’s obviously a start, I believe it’s important to differentiate yourself from the crowd. The majority of the job seekers will be searching for jobs and applying directly to the links. Here’s the problem with that approach: the links all point in the same direction.

Let me explain using the hub and spoke analogy. Most employers use a central database to keep resumes (known as the ‘applicant tracking system’ or ATS). Every time a job seeker submits a resume, it goes into this database. This is the hub. However, to get maximum exposure, the Recruiters from that employer post links to the job at various places including Twitter, Facebook,  Monster & other job boards. These are spokes, which are driving traffic to the hub (the central database of resumes). Whether you do a job search on Twitter or on the leading job board, your resume is going to end up in the central database.

I have been a Recruiter for the last decade and have used the following strategies to actually find qualified candidates. You can use the same to get noticed by recruiters and hiring managers. Try to move away from the click & apply strategy that most job seekers have. Differentiate.

So how can you differentiate yourself and stand away from the crowd? The good news is that it’s not very difficult but before we move on to the secret, let me touch upon some basic things a job seeker should do first on Twitter:

Create a good username: While this may seem trivial, think a little before you create your username. Remember that Twitter is a very public tool and ideally you want to stay on for a long time. Try to stay away from names like ‘topmodel’ or ‘superguy’. You are trying to use Twitter to find a job so think about it in that context. I am sure Demi Moore (@mrskutcher) would love to change her username now that she has filed for divorce from Ashton Kutcher. You can also just create a username based on your real name as that will help with search engines and search results. Remember, while you can change your username, it’s advisable not to do so. Think about it like your real name (eg. John Smith). So if the world knows you as John Smith, it won’t be easy telling everyone you’ve changed your name. The same thing applies to your Twitter username (or email addresses etc).

Have a descriptive bio: You don’t have a lot of space on Twitter so your bio has to be short. Think about what you would say about yourself (professionally) if you have 10 seconds to say it. You may also want to say you are looking for your next opportunity.

Upload a professional picture: Make sure picture is representative of who you are and is professional. By ‘professional’, I don’t necessarily mean a suit. If you are a construction worker, a picture of you wearing a suit may not be representing your profession well. On the other hand, if you are a sales person, then a picture of you wearing a suit or tie may be the way to go. Our pictures speak to the audience, so think about what your picture is conveying. If you are uncomfortable placing your picture then use a professional avatar.

Follow people: Now that you’ve setup your Twitter account, have a descriptive bio and a professional picture, you need to follow people. The beauty about Twitter is that you can followup just about anyone from Lady Gaga to Bill Gates. But before you get follow happy, think about what type of a job you are looking for and the industry it is in. Find individuals and influencers in your industry and follow them. Find investors and venture capitalists in your industry and follow them. Find your coworkers and colleagues you admire and follow them. A good place to find people is by using the Twitter search function.

If you have done all of the above then you are ready for the secret. If you have not, then take a moment to do the above steps first. The secret will not work for you if you have not followed the steps above.

All of the above is useless if you don’t engage with others on Twitter. There is no point of setting up an account, creating a username, uploading a picture, following people, if you do not talk with them or engage them in a conversation. Yes, the secret to using Twitter effectively to find a job is engagement.

Follow these simple tips to engage your audience and the people you follow:

1) Tweet: Don’t tweet for the sake of tweeting. Think about what may interest your audience and what is relevant to your job and industry. You are reading interesting articles and content every day, so tweet what you think would interest your targeted audience. If you are a carpenter, then tweet about cabinet design or different types of drawers or cabinets. Show your knowledge and people will find and follow you. But don’t send tweets just because you want attention. Be genuine. By sending targeted and relevant tweets, I was able to get a few of tweets favorited by influencers including Michael Arrington of TechCrunch.

2) Retweet: Can’t find anything to tweet? No problem. See what people you are following are tweeting, and retweet. Retweet’ing helps in two ways: one being that your Twitter stream stays active, and the other being that anytime you retweet, the person whose tweets you retweet is notified. So it’s an excellent way to get noticed.

Do you have any input on their tweet? Then give your opinion via the retweet and you may have a response. I have successfully engaged with a few popular reporters using this method (ofcourse my goal was to get PR for myJoblinx). You can do the same with a recruiter or hiring manager. Here are 10 more ways to get more retweets.

3) Reply to Tweets: If you see a tweet of interest to you and have an opinion on it, then reply directly to the sender. You can have a conversation with anyone on Twitter so use it to your advantage. Perhaps the person you are following needs some help on a topic. In this case, respond directly to them and they will appreciate it. I was able to engage and have a conversation with a few VC’s who I was targeting to get funding for myJoblinx. They were hiring for their startups and I replied with some tips on recruiting, and lo-and-behold, they responded.

But remember, Twitter is meant to be a public medium. So try not to send direct (private) messages to individuals you don’t know well. That’s the same as sending an email. Use the power of Twitter and communicate publicly. Your response rates will be higher.

Bonus tip: Monitor Twitter usage to see when your tweets may get the most exposure. Based on this infographic on social timing, 6% of all retweets happen during 5PM EST.

If you have read this far then you’ve probably realized that you need to do a few things to engage your targeted individuals on Twitter. And engagement is the secret of using Twitter effectively to find a job. Don’t use the click and apply strategy but be creative and use the tools available effectively. Use the tips and keep tweaking until you find what works for you. You’ll find the experience rewarding while learning how to communicate in a different medium and also find your next job.

Do you know of other creative ways of using Twitter in your job search? Let us know in the comments and pay it forward.

Update: Article updated on 12/3 to reflect information about changing your Twitter username. Hat tip to Mike in the comments.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. GetaFix7 permalink
    December 1, 2011 9:29 pm

    Great Article nicely fine tuned. Well Done!!!

  2. Mike permalink
    December 2, 2011 6:32 am

    I’m new to Twitter and found this article very useful, Thanks, You can, however, change your Twitter username anytime without affecting your existing Tweets, @replies, direct messages, or other data. After changing it, make sure to let your followers know so you’ll continue receiving all of your Tweets with your new username.

    • December 3, 2011 9:02 am

      Thanks for the feedback and also the tip about changing the Twitter username. I’ll take a look at that and update the article accordingly.

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