Today's job seekers face employers who are looking at more than their resume, and looking at more than just job applications to find candidates. This is good news for those who understand how to take advantage of newly popular social media tools like Twitter.
Yes, Twitter can help you find a job ... it's not just for telling the world what you ate for lunch.
Yes Twitter is for adults ... A recent study published by Pingdom.com established that 64% of Twitter users are 35+ and the average Twitter user is 39 years old.
Since Google, Yahoo, and Bing now index Twitter posts, using Twitter for your job search has become even more valuable in the last six months. Twitter can now help you get found, help recruiters find you, help you brand your subject matter expertise, help you increase your page ranking, and help you promote and find content.
If an employer, HR staff, or recruiter Googles a job seeker by name, your Twitter profile will likely turn up in the results. Job seekers should assume that they will be searched online by recruiters, before an interview is scheduled, when making short list decisions, and before a final offer is extended.
In addition, recruiters and HR departments are not just searching to find dirt, but are using Twitter and Google more frequently to find new candidates. Employers, HR reps, and recruiters have increased their usage of Twitter in the past year to post jobs, find candidates, and search backgrounds. During 2009 & 2010 new tools and capabilities have emerged to make it easier and more powerful for employers to use Twitter in the search process.
For the job seeker, the greater number of Twitter followers you have, the more relevant your account is to Google, and higher your Twitter account will rank on Google results. You can also increase your Google rankings by posting comments, links, by having your posts reTweeted, and by being included on Twitter lists. Basically, the more you use Twitter, the greater impact your profile have on Google rankings. Twitter usage can also increase rankings of your blog, online portfolio, Linkedin profile, Facebook profile, and other online presence.
Here’s some steps of developing a well planned Twitter strategy to brand yourself as a candidate:
- Inventory and Plan
- Inventory & Search: If you have a Twitter account, review your past tweets. Then search Twitter for mentions of you by name or username. Anything embarrassing out there? Any mentions about how you hate your job, your boss, anything you wouldn't want your Mom or boss to see? Create a spreadsheet listing any questionable items, including date.
- Same or new account: Depending on what you've found in your Twitter inventory, you might want to start fresh with a new username. If there is a lot of content that isn't boss or work friendly, unless it's really old with LOTS of safe newer content in front of it, start with a new account. If you have many followers (many meaning thousands) a new user account should be balanced versus the effort to rebuild a follower base. If your existing account is used specifically for a hobby, side job or other use where you need to maintain existing branding you've built, then create a new account.
- Passive or Active? Remember that Twitter is public, and that Tweets can't be erased once published. Passive job seekers can still safely use Twitter, but with different tactics. Passive candidates might not want to use their name as a username, and might not want to reference their current company. Passive candidates might not want to Tweet that they are looking for a job (not the best idea whether active or passive), but can effectively use Twitter to promote industry expertise. Passive candidates can still do much on Twitter, as long as their username and Tweets don't identify them to co-workers who might find their information.
- Username, bio, picture, links, background, links: Again, your choices may be impacted by your status as active or passive job seeker.
If you're active, I recommend that transparency builds trust:
- Use your name as username
- Write a brief bio - You only get 160 characters. If you need more, include links to profile, resublog, portfolio
- Use a recent picture
- Include a link to your Linkedin profile (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/02/job-seekers-20-ways-to-brand-yourself_25.html), resublog (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/05/you-dont-have-to-be-shakespeare-to.html), or online portfolio (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2008/06/how-online-portfolios-put-you-at-top-of.html.
- Choose a user name that's industry - related
- Make your bio broad
- Include an avatar or graphic as your picture
- use a URL shortener for your links (Tinyurl.com, Bit.ly, etc)
- Name (Your name as opposed to username - Consider whether active or passive)
- Email notification - Do you want to be notified everytime someone follow you? It's a great way to engage followers and make the first step from contact to relationship. Keep in mind that as your networking efforts grow this takes time, and it's a tradeoff. (Ex: When I started Twitter, I sent thank you's to every follower - as my followers and other social network activity grew, it became impossible to continue).
- Design - If you're a designer, creative, or marketing professional then design will be critical. Design a custom background, or explore having a professional design for you. Otherwise, use one of Twitter's standard designs.
- Mobile? Location? Privacy? Do you really need to get updates on your cell phone? Do you really want to post your location with each post? I recommend starting with each of these features turned off - if you want to experiment with them, it's easy to turn them back on later. Privacy - If you are a passive job seeker, one way to stay under the radar is to check "Protect My Tweets", so only people in your network can see your tweets, and they're not public. I don't recommend this - it prevents your tweets from being indexed by Google, and from getting discovered by recruiters and industry insiders. I recommend that passive job seekers do not protect their tweets, but are careful about what they tweet. Tweeting as an industry or functional expert is ok if you're passive - tweeting "I'm looking to get out of my dead end job" ... probably not such a good idea.
- Follow & Be Followed: Following people allows you to see content. Being followed allows others to see your content. A good Twitter strategy is to start out finding and following some industry leaders to see what's successful on Twitter. As you start to publish Tweets, it will be more important to encourage others to follow you - to get the widest distribution of your content. Others will follow you because you publish interesting content - chances are your lunch menu will interest a very small audience beyond your mom. Publishing links to relevant industry articles is one of the best ways to get started publishing content. If these are articles that you've written for your blog, all the better. If you're not a writer, publish relevant industry or functional articles you find on the internet.
- Build relevancy: Tweeting about the great movie you saw or the party you are on your way to may be entertaining for your friends, but it's not building your industry relevancy. If you want to use Twitter to keep your posse updated on your every move, consider a separate professional Twitter account, to build industry relevancy. You can build relevancy by passing tips to others in your field, publishing links to interesting articles, writing your own articles, commenting on industry news. Notice that it probably doesn't have much to do with what's on TV tonight.
- Subscribe to lists & get listed: Twitter Lists is a relatively new function, that allows users to publish lists of followers (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/how-can-twitter-lists-help-job-seekers.html. For example, I publish one of the largest lists on Twitter of job listing accounts (@philreCareered/jobtweets). If you follow these lists, you'll get a stream of job tweets from hundreds of sources on Twitter, but the entire stream will be jobs - you can even take an RSS feed. Getting listed is even more powerful as you seek relevancy. You can start by requesting to be listed as a job seeker on @philreCareered/jobseekers, so subscribers (recruiters and hiring managers subscribe) can more easily see your tweets.
- Industry recruiters: Search for recruiters in your industry and follow them. Many recruiters will also tweet jobs - might be a good idea for a list of your own, so you can easily separate these tweets from all the "stuff" on Twitter. Invite them to follow you back, so they can see the great industry content you publish. Note: Recruiters don't care what you've had for lunch either.
- Target companies: Search for employees of companies in your industry and on your target list. Follow and invite to follow you back. Tempt them with the great industry knowledge you publish, but start conversations with target company employees. Be a source of information to them, because eventually you'll want information from them as well (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/11/guerrilla-job-search-tactics.html).
- Use Twitter as a megaphone: Once you've built followers, start publishing. Twitter is a great megaphone, to share relevant content widely. Whether it's to build readership for your resublog, or to build relevance on Twitter, Twitter is a great tool to tell lots of people that you've written or found something interesting, that you think they'll find useful also. The better the content is that you tweet, the bigger and more focused your followers will be. A-List Twitterati have huge followings either due to great content published on Twitter like Gary Vaynerchuk (and his 850K followers of his postings on wine) or pre-existing celebrity like Ashton Kutcher (and his 4.6M followers of his postings on ... Ashton).
- ReTweet others & get ReTweeted By ReTweeting other's content, you increase your relevance to your defined market and build goodwill with other users. Later, ask them to ReTweet what you've posted, to increase the reach of your megaphone.
- Hashtags: Look for the hashtags used in your industry, job function or specialty. Searching for hashtags can help you find content, and can help other users of that content to find you and your tweets. For example, I use the hashtags #career #jobs #jobsearch and #jobseeker for my tweets.
- Find content: Finding relevant content that others have posted can help you in a number of ways:
- Identifying content for you to ReTweet
- Identifying industry leaders on Twitter who you might want to follow
- Identifying the audience of the industry leaders, who you might want to invite to follow you. You are likely to find industry and target company contacts in industry leader audiences
- Building a relationship with industry leaders can give you the ability to learn how they use Twitter effectively
- Twitter is just part of your strategy: Twitter by itself has limited power. Its true potential is seen when used in combination with other social media tools - Linkedin, Facebook, Blogs (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2010/03/5-ways-social-media-gives-job-seekers.html).
- Twitter is a time waster: It can be, if you hang out on Twitter all day to see what Ashton's up to. Twitter can also be productive if you use it to build an audience and share relevant content.
- Hiring managers aren't on Twitter: While many hiring managers don't hang out all day on Twitter, that's changing. Twitter is now almost twice the size of Linkedin, and has similar age demographics. As businesses are seeing new business uses for Twitter, more hiring mangers are using it to find out industry information, gain quick answers to questions, market products, and to find candidates. In the past year a number of companies have launched applications using Twitter to help hiring managers find candidates, and publicize jobs. Twitter is still early in it's growth stage, and is comparable to Facebook 2 years ago. You'd find that establishing your expertise now will be much easier than waiting until you're between jobs to start Tweeting.
- What Twitter won't do: Twitter won't find you a job - only you can find yourself a job. Twitter is a tool that can help you network and build your social brand (http://recareered.blogspot.com/2009/12/why-use-social-branding.html).
- Twitter isn't the only answer: Twitter is just one tool - it's not a magic pill, and it won't solve all your problems.
Build Your Professional Profile
Build your Twitter Network:
Build and Promote Your Expertise:
For Those Not Comfortable with Social Media:
Twitter is Just One of Many Job Search Tools
Candidates, please comment with your suggestions. How can you use Twitter to build your own personal brand?
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