Sunday, March 15, 2009

Twitter Tips: How to Use Twitter to Job Hunt

C.G Lynch interviewed me about some Twitter tips for job seekers. You can see how I use Twitter in action, by following me @philreCareered. I've highlighted my comments in bold:

Though LinkedIn tops the list of professionally-oriented social networks for job seeking, you can also use Twitter to get the word out about your skills and talents to relevant people in your industry.

But you must take some steps to be a good Twitter citizen before you tweet yourself into your next gig. We spoke with some career and social media experts on how to utilize Twitter for the purpose of job seeking, and the ways in which you can promote your own interests while helping others at the same time. (As you'll find, you can't do one without the other).

If you're new to Twitter, we recommend reading our beginners' guide to Twitter, as well as our Twitter etiquette guide, to learn more about what makes this community operate. Overall, it's important to remember that Twitter is about exchanging ideas and letting people know more about you based on the content of your tweets.

Know who to follow

If you want someone to think about you when a job opening arises, you need to get on that person's Twitter radar. One way to do this: follow the key people in your industry and watch their updates closely to see what types of topics and projects interest them the most.

For starters, use Twitter's search tool to look for certain keywords of interest. After you search, the results will show people who are tweeting those terms; then you can scan their public profiles to see if you should be following them. This can also help in your content strategy (more on that in the next section).

"From all the job success stories I've heard of [on Twitter], one thing remains consistent: you have to build your follower list on Twitter before you need them," says Dan Schawbel (@danschawbel) , a personal branding expert, and author of the upcoming book Me 2.0.

This message rings true to Aaron Mentzer (@mentzdog), who found his job as director of communications at MyExpertSolution, a Web-based company in Provo, Utah that provides mental and emotional health services. Through Twitter, he met many locally based PR professionals and initiated conversations over industry topics.

"At one point I arranged to meet several of my Twitter colleagues for lunch, so we could meet in person and establish a 'real' connection," Mentzer says. "A month or so after our lunch meeting, one of the colleagues I met on Twitter recommended me to a prospective client as a possible fit for them. I met with that company the next day, where they offered me a job on the spot."

If you begin following people in your industry and you'd like them to follow you back, make thoughtful replies to their tweets by putting the "@" sign in front of their Twiter user name. Just like on Google, we all tend to look when our name gets mentioned.

"Many job seekers get jobs who have a thousand or more Twitter followers that they've built relationships with over time by supplying them with valuable content and insights," Schwabel says.

Choose Content of Your Tweets Wisely

If you're interested in getting noticed by people in your field, you must choose the content of your tweets very carefully, experts say. That means be specific and avoid the trivial at all costs.

"Talking about your lunch won't attract people who want to hire you," says Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang), a senior Forrester analyst who researches social technologies and writes a blog on Web Strategy. "Talk about the project you're working on. If you've been laid off, talk about the project you'd like to be working on."

You should share links to content you read on blogs and media sites that are relevant to your field, too, says Phil Rosenberg (@philreCareered), president of reCareered, a career consultancy. In addition, link to other places on the Web where you've engaged with content, whether it be a blog post of your own, a comment you made to an article, or content on your LinkedIn profile.

"You can use Twitter as a megaphone to other places," Rosenberg says. "As long as you keep it around a central branding theme, you can help people get an idea of the types of things that interest you professionally."

As for the don'ts? Well, it might seem obvious (and the Twitter horror stories have been pretty well-documented at this point), but avoid bad mouthing previous (or current) employers, and watch for the tweets that, while perhaps honest, offer too much information.

"If you're looking for a job, don't tweet something you wouldn't want your mother to read," Rosenberg says. "If you're younger, don't talk about going out partying tonight or how you were partying so hard that you can't imagine getting through work. That's obviously not something a future employer would want to read."

Designing Your Twitter Profile and Integrating it Elsewhere

Be sure to use a good, recognizable head shot in your Twitter profile, says Schawbel. In terms of the profile information, you have to write a biography in 160 characters or less, so make it count and try to cram in a keyword that will be recognizable to others in your field (such as "business analyst" or "project manager").

You are also allowed a URL in your Twitter profile. For most people, unless you have your own blog where you talk shop or a personal website that lists your career highlights, use your LinkedIn profile, says Schawbel.

If you find the current profile too limiting, you can customize your Twitter background to include more pictures and links to your professional endeavors. (For more details, see this thorough how-to guide on how to customize your Twitter background from

Elsewhere on the Web, you should consider integrating your Twitter feed. If you have your own website or blog, you can embed your Twitter feed on top of it fairly easily with RSS and other feed-based technologies (the way to do it changes depending on the service, but it's generally not hard).

For more generic sites, such as LinkedIn, you can add your Twitter profile URL to your list of websites, or place links to it in one of your LinkedIn applications.

Tweeting it Forward

Many recruiters watch the Twitter community, keeping an eye out for ideal candidates, says Rosenberg. One of the way you can stand out to these critical contacts: refer colleagues to them and help others before you help yourself.

"Recruiters are dealing with hundreds or thousands of candidates," Rosenberg says. "The only reason they help you above someone else is if you help them do their job. If you want to get considered for jobs in the future, help them pass information along or refer candidates to them. That's the best way to endear yourself to a recruiter's heart."

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".

Thursday, March 5, 2009

LinkedIn Recommendations: Five Ways to Make The Most of Them

C.G. Lynch of CIO magazine interviewed me about how to maximize the effectiveness of the recommendation features of Linkedin. If you'd like to see how I use Linkedin, link to me at I've highlighted my comments in bold:

Within your LinkedIn profile, recommendations, which you must seek out and approve from contacts of your choosing, give employers a fuller view of you as a direct report, boss, colleague, or client. They make your LinkedIn profile more dynamic and personal than the fairly static information (where you worked, what you did) that appears in your general resume.

But you can also do more harm than good with a LinkedIn recommendation. If you don't pick the most appropriate people, or if you use too many people, it might scare off potential employers who might look at those recommendations as a red flag rather than a helpful vote of confidence. wants to help you avoid that problem, so we spoke with online career management experts to figure out the best way to get LinkedIn recommendations and make them an asset, instead of a hindrance, at job hunting time.

How to send a LinkedIn recommendation request.

1. After you log into your LinkedIn homepage, scroll your mouse over to the left navigation menu where it says "Profile." Click on the subsection that says, "Recommendations."

2. On the Recommendations page, click on the "request recommendations tab."

3. You'll be walked through a basic three step process. Name the job (among those listed in your resume) for which you want a recommendation, using the drop-down menu. Decide who you'll ask for a recommendation. And lastly, write a customized note, telling the person why you'd like them to recommend you.

1. Who to ask for a recommendation? Look above, below and sideways.

While you should have a recommendation in which your boss praises your abilities and how your work helped drive good business results, don't stop there, says Phil Rosenberg, president of reCareered (a career consultancy).

"If you want to demonstrate that you were a team player, having your peers say in a recommendation that you go the extra mile or help mentor people can help shape your image with a potential employer," Rosenberg says.

You also might want to look externally to clients and internally to your direct reports, says Kirsten Dixson, a reputation management and online identity expert.

"If you really want to show that you're an effective manger, you want to have endorsement from those people, not just the person above you saying so," Dixson says. "Recommendations should really be all the way around you: above, below, and sideways."

And while it seems obvious, make sure you know the person well before asking them for a recommendation. Not only will that ensure a recommendation with greater depth and detail, but also, you avoid putting someone in the awkward position of saying no.

2. Setting Expectations for a Recommendation

Like a recommendation written for the paper-based or e-mail world, a person recommending you on LinkedIn can benefit from some guidance on what thoughts and facts you're looking to present in their recommendation. As a result, it doesn't hurt to mention what aspects of your experience and relationship you're hoping to convey.

"Don't put words in their mouth. but ask them to accentuate one or two points of what it was like working with you," Rosenberg says. "That's better than leaving it up to chance about what they might want to write."

That said, you want to make sure you're not closing off a recommender from writing something about you that could bolster your image (and that you may not have even thought of), says Dixson. In the invitation to write the recommendation, she suggests that you shouldn't set overly specific guidelines, but mention that you'd be happy to offer them if they think it would be helpful.

"You might get a happy surprise if they create something that exceeds your expectations," Dixson says.

3. Length: Quality over Quantity

It doesn't hurt to give your recommender some guidance for how long the recommendation should be, and in this case, experts agree that quality should trump quantity.

For one thing, reader attention spans on the Web are known to be shorter, Dixson says. As a result, you don't want potential employers missing the overall message of a recommendation because they were unable to take several minutes to read it (time is always short).

Both Dixson and Rosenberg recommended something in the one paragraph region, with two paragraphs being an absolute max.

"Since the candidate should plan on a recommendation highlighting one or two strengths at most, more than two paragraphs is too much for a potential employer to read," Rosenberg says.

In some cases, recommendations with as few as three sentences communicate the most essential points about a person, Dixson says.

4. Number of Recommendations: Again, Quality Over Quantity

Some LinkedIn profiles look like infomercials if you overuse the recommendation feature. And you should not follow such a strategy, says Rosenberg.

"I've seen people have 300 recommendations," he says. "The problem is, it waters down the impact of any of those individual recommendations and you distract the reader. If you have five really important ones, they'd potentially need to get through 295 bad ones. It adds too much noise."

Rosenberg recommends no more than 10. While Dixson didn't set a hard and fast number, she said you should try to limit yourself to two to three per job.

5. Give Before You Get

It's a cliche to talk about the importance of building social capital and goodwill, but it's really unavoidable when it comes to LinkedIn recommendations. Before you can expect serious endorsements from people, it's best to go recommend some people yourself, experts say. This way, when you find yourself in need of a new job, you can rely on them returning the goodwill.

"LinkedIn is all about social karma," Rosenberg says. "So many people in their job search today will go to their Rolodex and say "gimme, gimme gimme.' But people really get tired of that. Try to give before you get, and you'll be much more likely to get results that way."

Executives exploring Career Change: For a free 30 minute resume consultation, or career advice for executives, email your resume confidentially to reCareered (, and we'll schedule a time to talk.

Staff, Managers, Entrepreneurs, and career changers outside the US: Send your resume to to enroll in a free group teleseminar "Accelerate Your Job Search - tools you can use".