In the past 20 years there has been a tremendous shift in the way we carry out the hunt for employment. In the 1990’s, your local newspaper was a job seekers’ best friend. You’d pick it up, circle ads, then get a ton of stamps to mail out physical copies of your resume, to be received by HR departments staffed with people who read them and made their own subjective judgement calls.
Today this process looks much different. Typically, the modern job seeker peruses one of thousands of websites dedicated to hosting job ads, and then electronically sends a copy of their qualifications to be parsed over by specialized analytics software looking for keywords.
This is not to say that professional networking has lost its importance, but even that process has changed significantly. The advent of social media has allowed for interpersonal communication to become nearly instantaneous, despite geographical boundaries as well as the timing required to catch someone in proximity to their landline phone. When thinking of social media as a means of engaging connections for the job hunt, typically people think of two social networks first, Facebook and LinkedIn. Facebook is a great way to instantly and simultaneously ask your closest friends and relatives for potential employment referrals. LinkedIn, in addition to hosting job ads, is another critical tool that can be used to engage your professional network for referrals and recommendations. It can also be used to showcase your skills for potential employers researching you after obtaining your resume.
One of the best social media networks for job seekers though, is often overlooked and neglected by job seekers, and that network is Twitter. While LinkedIn and Facebook are great for communicating with the people you already know, Twitter is a great way to expand your professional network. The open conversation format of Twitter allows you to quickly find, jump into, and participate in conversations that you would have never been able to find had they been held on other networks. There is a corner of Twitter dedicated to nearly every industry or interest, giving you near limitless opportunity to engage and build relationships with other people in your industry . Additionally, your Twitter account is another place online where you can showcase your expertise and potential value to employers.
It’s not difficult to set up or use Twitter in this capacity, but there are definitely some things about your account you’ll want to keep in mind. The first thing you need on Twitter is a handle. You’ll want to have a workplace appropriate and easily identifiable handle. If you’re lucky enough, like me, to be blessed with a highly unique name, you’ll want to lock that down as your handle. Many others don’t have that option, but there are plenty of other ways to brand yourself via your handle. One of the best is to use a combination of your name and another word referencing your industry, a specific skill, location, or an initial. Another great strategy is to strategically use the Twitter handle accepted underscore. Play around with all of these options and you’ll find something that can work for you.
After selecting a handle, the next thing you’ll want to go over is the rest of your profile. For the job seeker, the rules here are very similar to selecting a LinkedIn avatar picture. You want it to be a picture of yourself, centered on your face, and definitely work appropriate. There is some flex room here for fields such as designers and other creatives, but just keep in mind that this is the first visual impression you’ll be giving to potential employers you’re looking to reel in on Twitter. Your Twitter bio should highlight your basic skills, location, and certainly links to any professional content, websites, or your LinkedIn profile. Obviously, the value here of Twitter for job seekers is in being searchable and findable so you’ll want to make sure your tweets are set to unprotected. If you’ve been tweeting with this handle already for an extended time, and potentially about things you don’t want a future employer to discover, you may need to perform some spring cleaning and delete any objectionable content. There are a number of services that can help you with this, but if there is a large volume you may want to just open another Twitter account altogether.
WHAT TO TWEET
So now that you have your account all set up, at some point you’ll need to start tweeting. The point of your tweeting should be to attract engagements and follows from people and companies within your targeted industry. The core tenet of grabbing that attention is to add value with your content and conversations with them on Twitter. The main way people do this on Twitter is content curation, or tweeting out content from various sources that your audience may find value in. While it is valuable to add your own video, blog, or article content into the mix, it’s important to mix up your sources to avoid coming across as a pushing a hard sale. Tweets have a short half-life, so it’s important to be posting multiple times per day, ideally 5-15 depending on your audience.
You can optimize the content you post in a number of ways. Using one of the many free hashtag analysis tools, you should try to find a handful of industry relevant hashtags that people are regularly searching for to include in your tweets where applicable. This drastically increases the potential of your tweets to spread beyond your own follower audience, and attract new potential followers. If you are sharing content from a company or personal blog, tag them in your post by adding their username to your tweet. Not only is this a friendly way to let them know you appreciate their content, but also invites potential new engagements and relationships to develop. Once you get going, you’ll want to check out Twitter’s free analytics platform to see how your tweets are performing, gain additional insight into your audience, and formulate new strategies to improve your tweets’ performance going forward.
SEARCH AND RESEARCH
One of the most powerful and underused parts of Twitter is its Advanced Search feature. This tool is especially powerful for job seekers as it can allow you to find people, companies, and tweets about or from your industry, particularly ones from your local area. Find out who in your local area is using keywords or hashtags that are relevant to your job search with Advanced Search. Follow the companies you’re interested in, the people who work there, and recruiters who may be able to help you get in the door.
Another powerful and underutilized feature of Twitter is lists. Lists are groups of users (that you can choose to follow or not) that you’ve organized to appear in specific custom feeds. You can create lists based on any criteria you’d like such as accounts that regularly post local jobs, companies in your industry, local news stations, and people from your area. How you customize them is up to you, but the real power is in combining them with another Twitter tool such as Tweetdeck or Hootsuite that allows you to view Twitter in multiple columns, where you can set each list up side by side simultaneously. With these multiple columns set up you can view a stream of relevant job postings, alongside custom streams to monitor the conversations happening in each of the groups you’ve set up.
Now that you’re tweeting out content regularly and following the right people, it’s time to move on to the most important step… engagement. Social media is about being social. It’s unreasonable to expect that people will just flock to engage with you based on your tweets alone. Engaging is the best way to start the conversations that will help you in getting a job. All of those targeted keywords and hashtags you found earlier, now is the time to watch/monitor those topics and start replying to other people’s tweets. Some of the most interesting conversations on Twitter happen between people who don’t initially follow each other, but often end with a mutual following. Responding to people’s tweets and content not only shows appreciation to them, but adds value to anyone following the conversation.
Twitter chats are one of the best avenues to making meaningful connections with people in your industry. A Twitter chat is essentially a large group conversation on a predetermined topic that follows a series of questions asked by the chat’s host(s) and utilizes a unique hashtag. There are many free tools available to help you find and participate in Twitter chats on tons of different topics and industries.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
These are all great strategies to build a professional network with Twitter. It’s an enormous world of opportunity, but don’t forget to knock on the door! Once you’ve started engaging people, it’s okay to let them know that you are looking for a job. Use the hashtags #jobseeker or #hireme in your profile or tweet using them occasionally. Once you’ve mastered the search functions, keep looking daily for new postings or updates from the companies or recruiters you’ve targeted. The rest of the tips here will help you create a Twitter profile and post history that will be set to help show your expertise or potential value to employers.
Best of luck in your job search, now get logged in and start tweeting!
Scott is a digital native hailing from San Antonio, Texas with experience in multiple verticals including contact centers, digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and social media. He’s currently working as a Client Success Manager at SocialPath Solutions where he helps brands maximize their social media impact through content marketing, audience engagement, and customer support. He’s got a passion for social media and is a co-host of the weekly #Luv4Social Twitter chat.