Thursday, January 28, 2010

Use Twitter To Prepare For Your Job Interview

As companies and professionals are using Twitter for far more than lunch updates, Twitter has turned into a great place to get real time information.

Job seekers can use Twitter information to research companies and hiring managers prior to interviews.

Is your hiring manager on Linkedin? There’s a good chance the hiring manager, the HR representative, and the especially the recruiter are also on Twitter.

Now that over 50 million people use Twitter (close to surpassing Linkedin’s user base) you will find people from your target company on Twitter. With that large of a user base Twitter can help you with your Guerrilla Job Search Tactics - it's especially helpful to help you prepare for a job interview.

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How can Twitter help you prepare for an interview?

  1. Find target company contacts – beyond the hiring manager, HR Representative, and recruiter, find out who else from your Target company is on Twitter. There are three major ways to accomplish this:
    • Search Twitter – Many people will put their company or company’s website on their Twitter profile or in tweets
    • Search Linkedin – Now that Linkedin has connected its status updates to Twitter, many Linkedin users list their Twitter information on their Linkedin profile. For those contacts on Linkedin that have not listed their Twitter information, just make a list of contacts. Then search for each name on that list on Twitter to expand your Twitter contacts at a target company. If the company is large, just search Linked for a specific location, function or department.
    • Search Facebook – You probably won’t find as many contacts through Facebook, and you probably won’t see as much information about the contact on Facebook (because of Facebook's privacy controls), but you’ll probably find additional contacts on Facebook. Again, search for them on Twitter

  2. Choose who to follow on Twitter – I don’t recommend that you follow everybody at a target company, so choose wisely. Choose people in the department and location you are targeting, but not necessarily all the top people. Follow the CEO & C level people – some CEOs use Twitter as ways to communicate company goals and marketing to both employees and customers. Follow a few management level people as you might get wind of what problems people are working on (A Tweet as simple as “Burning the midnight oil” can give you some insight into questions you might ask (such as… why?). Administrative assistants and staff level people can be the best people to follow as they are often the most talkative and open.

  3. Follow conversations – What are people at the your target talking about? Look beyond just tweets relating to work. Look for interests that you can use as conversation starters. If you find that the hiring manager is tweeting about her kids or her dog, plan on working that into the beginning of your interview to build rapport. If another contact at your target company could have information that is valuable to you, learn what you can about him from his tweets. If he’s involved in a charity find out how you can help. By helping him achieve his goals, especially if done in person, you’ll be much more likely to gain information about th company, its problems, and the hiring manager’s personality.

  4. Start conversations – If you find that a contact is involved in a charity, find out how you can help. By helping him achieve his goals, especially if done in person, you’ll be much more likely to gain information about the company, its problems, and the hiring manager’s personality.

  5. Ask – Why not just ask questions directly to contacts, or to the Twittersphere? You might be surprised how willing people are to help you.

All of this takes time and you’re not going to be able to get much useful information in just the night before the interview. It will take you a while to get the really useful stuff.

Prepare ahead of time. To do this the right way, you’ll want to start your research as soon as a company comes up on your radar screen.

But consider the payoff - how effective will you be in an interview if you know what you have in common with the hiring manager, you know what her department's problems and goals are, and you already have a pretty good idea of her personality style? Could that give you an unfair advantage?

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Related Articles:
Why Candidates Should Avoid The Ambush Informational Interview
Job Seekers - Just Step Away From The Crackberry (and iPhone)

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