Twitter may be an entertaining way of keeping up-to-date with the latest news and gossip, but for job seekers it’s becoming an increasingly useful way of tapping into professional networks and job opportunities. If you learn how to use it effectively, you just may be able to tweet yourself into a job!
The first step on your professional Twitter journey is to set up an appropriate Twitter profile. Choose a professional-looking profile picture or avatar and a username that matches your other online usernames, such as on LinkedIn or your blog (if you have one) so your online presence is consistent.
It’s important to fill out a complete profile so people know who you are and why it would be worthwhile following you. You may want to include a brief job pitch in your bio and link to your online resume in it.
You can also add to the lustre of your professional image by creating a professional-looking, customised Twitter background. This allows you to personalise your profile and add additional information, while enhancing and reinforcing your brand.
You can create a customised background where you can choose your own colours and format, and add additional information that isn’t included in your Twitter profile, such as your website and other details. There are numerous sites that will help you to set this up, such as MyTweetSpace, TwitterBacks, TweetStyle, TwitBacks, TwitterGallery, Twitpaper and Twitterimage.
Twitter, like other forms of social media, is all about connections. You need to develop a network of relevant contacts that will include both personal and professional acquaintances. You should also follow industry leaders and professionals, thought leaders, and companies that interest you. Look for public lists that are related to your field or industry to find appropriate professionals and organisations to follow, as well as common interest and professional interest groups.
You can use the Twitter search function, Twellow (a directory of public Twitter accounts with hundreds of categories and search features to help you find people relevant to your profession and interests) and TwitDir, a directory of Twitter users that allows you to search by different attributes, including favourites and top 100 posters.
Remember to get your Twitter username out there as much as you can – add it under your name in emails, personal messages on other social networks and blog posts. Add a ‘follow me on Twitter’ signature to your email accounts.
It’s important to let your networks and interactions grow organically. Once you develop a core network and get the Twitter ball rolling it tends to gain momentum, and people you follow will often start following you back.
Perhaps the most important step is to interact and stay active with your network. Twitter is an incredibly fast and dynamic medium, and if you’re too quiet you’ll simply get lost in the Twittersphere.
The way you interact with your network will determine what you get out of Twitter. The more dialogue and interaction you create, the better. Share information and promote others instead of just yourself.
You can tweet or re-tweet interesting articles, start a conversation with someone in your field, ask a question, respond to someone else’s comment or mention someone by name by using the @ symbol followed by their username. Chat with other industry professionals, recruiters and current employees about your industry, and join Twitter forums for your profession. Stay in the loop so you know what’s going on and will hear about possible job openings.
Try to be consistent in how often you tweet. Engage with others and be responsive, but don’t push yourself onto others or their discussions.
Once you’ve made a good connection with someone it would be helpful to talk to, if it seems appropriate you can take it offline and arrange a face-to-face meeting.
By engaging with your network in this interactive and mutually beneficial way, you will add value to your followers and whatever conversations you join, and at the same time establish your credibility.
It’s important to write posts that show insight and demonstrate your expertise, but tread a fine line because too much self-promotion will turn off your audience. Concentrate more on producing interesting content and sharing information, and this will naturally attract attention – including that of prospective employers. Just remember that every tweet contributes to your online persona and personal branding, so you want to portray yourself as a knowledgeable professional with worthwhile thoughts and ideas.
There are a number of direct ways to use Twitter when looking for a job. The first and most obvious thing to do is tweet about your job search so your contacts know you’re looking – you never know who might have a job opening.
Use hashtags to look for job openings as well as general job search advice. For example, look up #jobs, #recruiting, #jobsearch or #jobadvice, and search for specific jobs such as #salesjobs, #prjobs or #mediajobs. You can also search in a specific location, such as #jobs_Sydney or #JobsnAdelaide.
If you know which companies you want to work for, check out their Twitter accounts to see if they’ve listed any job openings. Reading their bios and their tweets will also give you a good idea of their corporate culture and help you decide if they’re a company you’d like to work for. Many recruitment companies also list jobs on Twitter or you can contact them directly by sending them a Twitter message.
Industry conferences are another good idea – get active with other attendees on Twitter and seek out local associations or industry meetings.
Chat with others about your job search on forums like #jobhuntchat, #careerchat or #hirefriday. Anyone can join the discussion and you’ll learn a lot from sharing with other job seekers as well as recruiters, resume writers, HR pros, students and working professionals.
Finally, for more general job search and career advice, look up things like #career, #careers or #employment. For resume-writing tips and to view other people’s digital resumes, try #resume, #resumewriting and #CV. And of course, don’t forget to check out Career FAQs’ sample resumes and cover letters and career advice, as well as our Twitter page.