Can you Tweet your way to a better job?

More and more companies are using Twitter to seek employees, with many Tweets looking like an online version of the classified ads of the past. Developing an effective and efficient Twitter strategy for your job search is a smart idea

Statistics show that job search networking is much more effective when you make ‘loose’ connections – touching base with people beyond your immediate circle whose networks and contacts are much different from your own. With over 15 million users in the UK alone, Twitter offers an unparalleled opportunity to create an extended network

What Can Twitter Do For You?

1. Afford access to other professionals in your field. When you follow industry leaders, you’ll know who spends time with them, what conferences they attend (and what they think of the speakers!), what they’re reading and what is on their minds. This is great information to use in your search
2. Provide exposure and credibility as well as personal and professional relationships when you connect to others in your industry
3. Offer you a venue to demonstrate your expertise and share information in quick, pithy bursts of wisdom. This is perfect if you don’t have the time or energy to create a blog

Unique Aspects of Twitter

1. It’s casual and immediate and a great place to ‘meet’ informally
2. You’ll find a wide variety of people on Twitter, including CEOs, top-level executives, hiring managers, recruiters and everyone in-between! It’s one-stop shopping for your networking needs. You’ll be surprised to find that stars in your field (mentors) may follow you if you reach out to them!
3. Unlike Facebook, where it is kind of creepy if you start trying to “friend” people who are connected to your contacts, it is acceptable (and expected) to follow people on Twitter because another friend or colleague does
4. It forces you to be brief. Coming up with your ‘Twit-Pitch’ – what you have to offer in 140 characters or less – will help you clarify your value proposition. Remember: less is more!

Getting started

1. Brand yourself professionally. If you are planning to use Twitter for a job search, set up a designated profile and account. Choose a professional Twitter handle using your name or some combination of your name and profession that sounds good and is easy to remember. For example, JaneSmith or MarketingExpertJane. Post a professional picture and describe the employment you’re seeking in your Twitter bio (unless, of course, you are already employed). Spend some time reading other postings; learn your way around the site. If you’re looking for a good resource, check out The Twitter Book by Tim O’Reilly and Sarah Milstein

2. Twitter allows you to link to a website; if you don’t have a professional website, link to your LinkedIn profile so that employers who want to learn more about you will be able see your experience and education. Don’t have a LinkedIn profile? Learn how to set one up here

3. Before you follow anyone, post some tweets! Don’t succumb to the temptation to share your lunch menu…Tweet about an article, an idea or share a link of professional interest to your targeted followers. Do this for a few days. It may seem strange to be tweeting when no one is following, but you may be surprised to gain an audience before you even try. Once you have a great profile and a set of interesting tweets, start following people in your industry. Aim high! Follow stars – some will follow you back

4. Follow leaders in your field, potential employers, your alumni association, career coaches, your professional body, career advice sites, etc. Twitter makes this easy through the search function, and with recommendations for related sites. Use Twitter’s advanced search feature to find job-related tweets. Continue to build your network by using Twitter Search and Twitter’s Find People tool. Manually review profiles and use Twubble to help you find new people to follow. Use directories such as Twellow and TwitDir. Grow your network slowly – you don’t want to follow 1000 people and have only 30 following you. That makes you look spammy, not professional

5. Another tool to use to learn what’s going on in your area of expertise is Monitter. Use it to look up information about companies you’re interested in. It’s also great to see what people are talking about and to find conversations to join on Twitter

6. Establish yourself as knowledgeable in your area of interest by tweeting about the latest articles, news, or research related to your field. Share links that are relevant to your followers, adding commentary to the latest industry news. This shows that you’re keeping up with industry trends and gives potential employers a look into what you read and care about, which will help them to envision how you may fit into their company’s work environment.Tweet about interesting items related to the job search as well

7. Use hashtags (the # sign) to ‘tag’ your posts and to search for tweets about subjects of interest to you. These tags make it easy for people to search for your content. Cision Blog explains this well: “Hashtags are used on Twitter to create groupings around a particular topic, event, community, industry, location, etc. By using a hashtag, tweeters can follow an entire conversation chain uninterrupted by other tweets.” Tagalus is a service that provide the definition of hash tags, so take a look if you are following people and have no idea what their tags mean!

8. Connect with TweetMyJobsand sign up for the free services. You can indicate the cities and job titles you’re most interested in, and these will be tweeted to you as they appear. The postings are immediate, so you’re more likely to hear about a job before other social platforms will have them

9. Give, give, give! Think about what you can do for others. Don’t blatantly self-promote. Instead, help promote others. “Retweet” (pass along information someone else shared, giving them credit) – you’ll earn followers and friends this way. Those who know (and like) you will become part of your network and will be willing to help you

10. Take It Offline. Once you’ve gained a certain level of dialogue with a potential employer, an in-person meeting can really boost the relationship. The transition from online to in real life is critical… All of the loose connections you’ve made with that person are suddenly solidified when you put the name/avatar/tweets together with a face. Nothing can replace this

Sustain Your Twitter Network

1. Twitter doesn’t have to be very time-consuming, but if it’s going to be part of your job search strategy, make a point to keep up with it by sending out something useful at least every other day
2. Read what other people write and respond. Join conversations and start your own
3. Don’t be afraid to send a message directly to a star in your field. Simply address your tweet to @their Twitter name, and they should receive it. Be aware that Twitter isn’t 100% reliable, so feel free to try again if you don’t hear back or have reason to believe your message wasn’t delivered
4. Feel free to tweet that you are looking for an opportunity

As more and more get involved (dare we say addicted?) to Twitter, opportunities to leverage this tool for job search networking will grow exponentially. Don’t be the one left behind! Get on board and start connecting for success

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