How to Use Twitter in Your Job Search

By Michelle Hutchinson

Tweeting birdsLast month I shared Transition Sherpa’s tips on using LinkedIn to find your next job. But according to Jeff Sheehan, one of Transition Sherpa’s co-founders, Twitter is another online platform that should be part of your job-search strategy. Here’s how he recommends using this tool.

Using Twitter to Forge Relationships

Part of the allure of Twitter is its ease of connecting with other people; you can follow people even if they don’t follow you back. That contrasts with LinkedIn and Facebook, where both parties have to accept each other as connections. However, if all you do is follow people on Twitter, you’re not maximizing its effectiveness in your job search, and maximizing is a multistep process.

            Step 1: Decide what companies you want to work for, find people who work for those companies, follow them on Twitter, and retweet their relevant tweets. When you have something relevant to say in response to a tweet, reply to it. Don’t overdo your retweets and replies, though, or you’ll appear to be a stalker. If you’re professional in your comments and your retweet frequency, over time, the people you follow are likely to follow you back.

How do you figure out who works for your desired companies? Jeff recommends using Twellow, which is like the online Yellow Pages for Twitter. You could also use the advanced search option on LinkedIn and/or visit the company’s website, where press releases and news updates might tout employees’ accomplishments. Since many people have the same name, make sure that the photos on LinkedIn and company websites match the head shots on the Twitter profiles so that you know you’re following the correct person.

            Step 2: When someone follows you back, send him/her a direct message on Twitter. This is NOT an opportunity to ask the person about a job or ask to be introduced to someone else in the company; it’s a chance to deepen the professional relationship. Your message could read, “Thank you for following. If I can ever be of help to you, please don’t hesitate to ask.” Notice how that stays below the 140-character limit that Twitter allows.

            Step 3: After an exchange of messages on Twitter, take the relationship to LinkedIn, where once you and the other person are connected, you don’t have to limit your communication to the 140 characters. Remember, though, when you invite the other person to connect on LinkedIn, do NOT use the LinkedIn default message. Personalize your invitation.

            Step 4: Deepen the professional relationship on LinkedIn by sharing information that would be of benefit to your new connection. If the person has tweeted about a particular hobby, for example, fishing, and you’ve heard about a great fishing spot, you can send a direct message to this person with information about the spot. If you’ve read a newspaper article about a new contract the company has been awarded, write a congratulatory message.

            Coffee in a cupStep 5: Finally, take the relationship one step further by asking the other person if he/she would like to talk on the phone, or better yet, meet for coffee or lunch. Still, this is not an opportunity to ask about jobs at the company. The other person has to first like you and trust you before you can mention that subject, and that means several more conversations or meetings will need to take place. Remember, forging productive relationships is a process, but it’s a valuable one, because you are more likely to find out about a job and get a foot in the door from someone you know than from randomly applying to jobs posted online or in newspapers.

Jeff says he has met people all over the world from relationships that he initiated on Twitter and then cultivated using the steps above.

Other Uses of Twitter in Your Job Search

  • Jeff recommends following @TweetMyJobs. While the majority of this account’s tweets are targeted to recruiters, it often tweets a link to a job of the day.
  • When you’ve identified a company that you want to work for, follow that company on Twitter. Many companies will tweet job openings.
  • Larger companies will have a separate Twitter account just for recruitment, so look for those too. For example, IBM posts jobs using the Twitter handle @IBMUSjobs, and UPS uses @UPSjobs.
  • If you type #jobsearch into Twitter’s search box, you’ll find some good resources to guide you as you look for a new position. Unfortunately, you’ll also find some promotional and spammy tweets.
  • If you type #jobsearch #Atlanta into Twitter’s search box, you’ll find tweets about available jobs in Atlanta. Replace Atlanta with the name of the city in which you want to work, and you’ll find tweets with jobs that might interest you. Remember, though, you’ll have better luck finding a job through someone you know than by applying via an online posting.
  • Jeff recommends using Twitter’s advanced search feature to get real-time information about your industry and stay ahead of your competition.

A Final Note

While tweets can be a bit more sociable than LinkedIn posts, keep your own tweets clean (no profanity or insults), uncontroversial, and positive. That way, if a recruiter or hiring manager follows you back, you’ll have nothing to hide, and the recruiter/hiring manager won’t be turned off. If you already have questionable tweets on your Twitter page, go back into your account and delete them.

Have you used Twitter in your job search? If so, click on “Leave a comment” below, and tell us about your experience.

If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, click here.

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