I hope that the title to this blog post knocked you out of your comfort zone, because that was my intention in writing this guide. Don’t get me wrong: LinkedIn is still an essential part of your job search, and having an optimized LinkedIn profile and networking with others on that platform is still a prerequisite in helping you land your next job. But where LinkedIn may have been the ultimate differentiator for the job seeker two years ago, it no longer is. Instead, it’s time to start thinking about investing more time in utilizing Twitter for your job search. Twitter is a world in which the “connections” and other restrictions of LI do not exist: It is a flat society that allows you to communicate with someone just by knowing their username. It is also where more searches are being performed on Twitter than on Yahoo or Bing, and therein lies the opportunity for you, the job seeker. For you I have written this post: The Ultimate How to Use Twitter for Your Job Search Guide.
The ultimate job search guide below assumes that you may not have even registered for Twitter before. Relax and remember that social media was made for us and not them. Take a deep breath and let’s get started. Even if you’re already tweeting, you might want to review some of these before skipping forward in this post.
Setting Up Your Account
A little more than a year ago I wrote the ultimate “101” guide with 7 tips on how to get started on Twitter. Setting up your profile properly is important just as your LinkedIn profile is because it can and will be searched upon. Therefore, please keep these tips in mind:
1. Use your personal e-mail address for your account. Will help you get found and ensure that you maintain control in case you change jobs if you are presently working. Make sure you allow others to find you by that email address in your account settings screen as well.
2. Use your real name for your account. Remember, the world is watching you on Twitter. If you really want to show that you are an expert in something, show it in your bio, link, and tweets, not in your name. What you lose in potential SEO benefits you gain in establishing credibility. Others may have a different opinion on this one, but if you wouldn’t put a catchy nickname on your resume, you might not want to do it on Twitter if you are looking for a job.
3. Complete your “More Info URL” by linking to your preferred bio destination. 3 schools of thought as to where this final destination might be. A) Started blogging? This will probably be the link you want to use. B) Have you created an online resume using VisualCV? If so, why not bring potential employers to that site? C) The default link for all others will be your LinkedIn profile.
4. Create a branded “One Line Bio” and make it recruiter-friendly. Recruiters use search when looking for potential employees so think like them when crafting your bio. Aside from the link to your resume mentioned above, make your location familiar by using the name of the metropolitan area where you are looking for work and make sure you use often-searched-in-resume-database terms such as credentials, job title and industry.
5. Professionally branded picture, please. Assuming you have a similar professional photo on your LinkedIn profile, make your life easier and utilize the same professionally branded picture here on Twitterville.
6. Standard professionally-looking background design will do for now. Simply use one of the preset designs that looks professional. The new Twitter UI actually displays even less of your background design, so a custom background is not as important as it used to be. That being said, if you are an artist or web designer, you may want to strut your stuff here and show off.
7. Keep your tweets public. Making your tweets private defeats the whole purpose of being on Twitter. Enough said.
Networking, Engaging & Tweeting
Just as you create a profile to be found on LinkedIn, tweets are the ultimate guide to your being found on Twitter. But Twitter is about more than just tweeting: It is also about networking and engaging others just like you would do on LinkedIn Groups, LinkedIn Answers, or even on Facebook. With that in mind, even before you start following others, start tweeting! Relax: Tweet, and you will be magically found and followed. Check back every once a while to see who has followed you and follow back relevant people that don’t appear to be bots. As you start following others back, start keeping an eye on your Twitter Following to Follower ratio. But first, here’s some tweeting tips:
8. Create your Twitter content strategy. Read my advice on what to tweet before you start tweeting “out of brand.”
9. Keep tweets professional and favorable to anyone who might stumble upon them. In line with my advice on 8. on what to tweet, keep things professional in nature. The ultimate guide in your online personal branding is “You are what you tweet,” not what you eat, so that means no tweeting what you ate for lunch. I’m not saying that you can’t include other personal information like hobbies or projects. But try to keep things professional for the most part, and when you sprinkle in some personal interests, do it in a way that ideally adds to your professional brand like taking about a new skill you acquired or a seminar you attended.
10. Invest daily time in tweeting. You don’t need to spend a lot of time tweeting. But you need to start creating a daily social media routine that includes tweeting time. There are tools that exist, like HootSuite, that allow you to pre-schedule content to tweet throughout the day. Then it is just getting into the habit of dividing out some time in the morning and afternoon to responding, engaging and networking. The more you tweet, the more you get found. This also helps you build a history which helps highlight the fact that you are a real person who will respond back should a company or person reach out to you.
11. Network by promoting and helping others. My own concept of Windmill Networking is based on the concept of karma, that do good for others and you shall be rewarded. In the Internet, nothing buys you more credibility than by joining in and helping others as opposed to always self-promoting. Add value to the community by retweeting and sharing interesting tidbits that others might find useful. Hear of a job lead that’s not fit for you? Tweet about it so that others might apply to it.
12. Participate in chats using hashtags to get advice and be noticed. Chats are probably one of the quickest ways to get connected through Twitter. Join in regular chat groups that happen during specific times like the #jobhuntchat, which goes on every Monday from 10 to 11 P.M. EST. The live chat includes some very helpful people from HR specialists to resume experts who not only are willing to lend a hand but can also help you get connected to other job-providing Twitter users. You can also participate in a less-than-real-time fashion by simply adding the related hashtags in your relevant tweets. Some other chats that you should check out are #careerchat, #internchat and #hirefriday. Note that most industries and professions already have their own dedicated chats which allow you to network with your peers and perhaps be noticed by a recruiter. Here is a great list of 258 Twitter chats…and growing!
13. Tweet using the #hirefriday tag to get noticed. One great initiative that was started in Twitter by my dear friend @HRMargo is #HireFriday, a user-generated movement that highlights job seekers so they can be noticed by companies and recruiters looking for great talent.
14. Mingle by attending Tweetups. Go offline and do some good, old-fashioned networking by attending a “Tweetup,” which is simply a gathering of friends and followers who met through tweeting. Get to know the people you follow online face to face. The potential upside of getting a real life job referral through these events is something you shouldn’t miss. Just do a search for your #(your city)tweetup, such as #latweetup, #nyctweetup, etc. and you are bound to find one. Another option is to search for a nearby tweetup on TwtVite.
Strategically Following and Engaging
There are many theories on what you should do next once you’ve established yourself tweeting. For normal users, I would tell you to follow Twitter Lists before you follow other Twitter users other than those who have started to follow you. There are some who say that you should mainly be in listening mode for awhile before even participating. If you’re a job seeker, the ultimate job search advice from me is going to be to start following other users strategically in hopes of getting noticed by them. At the least, you will be exposed to an incredible amount of realtime information that will provide you information on potential job openings as well as data points to use in researching a company as well as engaging with others. And you never know what conversations might happen just from the simple act of following someone. That being said, remember that following-follower ratio, because if that company, hiring manager, recruiter or industry thought leader has 1,000 followers but only follows 50 back, chances are you won’t be followed back, or noticed, either.
15. Follow the companies that interest you and get a feel for their culture. It goes without saying that you need to follow the firms that are on your target list. The easiest way to find company accounts to follow is to use the standard “Find Accounts and Follow Them” guide on Twitter. On the other hand, the ultimate way to find Twitter users that work at specific companies, including potential hiring managers, is actually using the new LinkedIn Signal tool.
16. Follow potential target company employees, recruiters, and industry leaders. Use the top two user directories, Twellow and WeFollow, to find relevant people to follow that may directly or indirectly aid your job search – and make sure you register your account as well to help be found! You can also search Twitter Lists at Listorious to help you find relevant people to follow on Twitter.
17. Talk to potential employers without putting forward an agenda. After finding strategic people to follow in 17., monitor their tweets looking for an opportunity to engage with them. Build trust with them by participating or starting in agenda-less conversations or even retweeting something of theirs that you would like to share with your followers. You may also unearth some company need or pain point that you can help them with just by monitoring their tweets just like others are monitoring your tweets for business opportunities! Be strategic here, as first impressions count!
18. Follow Twitter accounts that post job openings. To really get into the game, you should also follow accounts that retweet and gather job openings. Some accounts we recommend you follow include @jobangels, @jobshouts, @twithire, the major job board sites @indeed and @simplyhired, and @startuphire if you are looking for a job at a VC-backed company.
19. Follow conferences and events related to your field. You can also follow conferences and events related to your job search where you can start conversations with attendees and other professionals in your field that may potentially blossom into a new job lead down the road. Whenever there is an industry conference go on, check their website and perform Twitter searches and you should be able to find the appropriate hashtag. Even if you’re not at the event, you can still network with attendees, and just by monitoring the tweets your finger will remain on the pulse of what is happening in your industry or profession.
20. Subscribe to Twitter Lists to supplement your friend following. You can use Listorious to also help you find Lists which then you can subscribe to and view inside your timeline. Take advantage of the expert curation of others and increase the scope of your job hunt by finding more interesting and relevant people to follow that you might not have picked up from the above advice.
Twitter as a Job Search Engine Guide
21. Check out Twitter job search engines. Yes, there are search engines that not only specialize in looking for tweets, they also scour job postings too. When I blogged about Twitter job search engines awhile back, I raved about TwitterJobSearch (which is now called TwitJobSearch), but equally impressive is TweetMyJobs. Use these sites to help narrow down your search by company and even by location.
22. Use Twitter’s advanced search for accurate job hunting. It’s not a well-known feature but you can conduct better searches on Twitter by visiting their “hidden” Advanced Twitter Search. This is a powerful tool that can search all tweets and return ones that are relevant to you, your location and your interests. You can even filter results based on positive attitude (which may be a hint that a company may be looking to expand) or negative attitude (still a winner since you can solve whatever their problem is).
23. Make the most out of hashtags for job searches. Hashtags (#) are Twitter’s way of classifying content. Employers know this too, so research the hashtags they use to categorize job postings so you can both find new jobs and at the same time mingle with your prospective employers. One great hashtag is #jobangels, a network of people lending a hand to others seeking jobs. For general searches, you can use #jobs, #jobsearch and #jobadvice. You can also drill down using specific job hashtags like #salesjobs. Check out hashdictionary.com to find more hashtags that might interest you, including other job-related tags.
Tools to Make Twitter More Efficient for You
24. Set up job alerts using TweetBeep. You’ve heard of Google Alerts, right? TweetBeep is Google Alerts for tweets! Why bother looking for jobs manually when you can let the jobs come to you? TweetBeep sends you hourly updates on jobs you are looking for in tweets. You can even set it up to alert you for any #tags and @replies.
25. Take charge by using a 3rd party application instead of Twitter.com. Try using the previously mentioned HootSuite, TweetDeck, or Seesmic where you can create “columns” of data based on lists, search terms, users, @mentions, etc…and follow them seamlessly from the comfort of your smart phone!
Tweets as the Ultimate Ongoing Informational Resource for Your Job Hunt
26. Get good advice and stay abreast. If you need help with your resume writing, check out these hashtags for tips on crafting a good-looking resume: #resume, #resumewriting and #CV. And getting hired is just the first step to building your career: Keep learning by following relevant hashtags like #career, #careers, #personalbranding and #employment as well as joining in weekly Twitter chats like #CareerChat. There are also tons of great career lists to follow that you can find on Listorious to help bring the latest advice right to your timeline.
27. Have a career-related question? Tweet it! Sure, LinkedIn Answers is a great forum for you to ask questions in. But Twitter is realtime. Give it a try…and you’ll see why heavy Twitter users in Japan don’t even Google anymore: They just tweet out their questions!
I have tried to be as comprehensive as possible in creating the ultimate guide of the different points of advice I would give the job seeker to maximize their use of Twitter for their job search. Because the uses of the magical realtime platform are as many as human imagination allows, I am sure there are other things that can be added to this guide. If there are other points that you would add, or if you have found a job using Twitter, please share your experiences by commenting after this blog post and helping make the ultimate guide even better! Thank you!