Using Twitter for Your Job Search
It’s a well-known fact that there are more people today accessing the Internet via mobile technology than with a desktop or laptop computer. This means that your tablets, iPads, eReaders, mobile phones, and PDAs (does anyone really use these anymore?) are the primary means for accessing the wealth of information on the Internet. Why is this relevant for your job search?
Well, as you are reading this, you probably have a device (or access to a device) that has mobile technology and know about “apps” (short for “applications”– computer programs with a specific or applied purpose). Twitter is one of the most accessible apps, and it’s a tool that can enhance your job search.
Twitter is both a free download for mobile devices, AND it’s available on both Droid and Apple platforms. It is accessible through our “traditional” means of desktop and laptop computers. Twitter is simple to use and straightforward, unlike mobile technologies that can intimidate some people.
So what is Twitter? In short, it is an app that allows you to post short bursts of timely information known as “tweets,” of no more than 140 characters (a couple of short lines of text). You share this information and post status updates of your activities with people who choose to “follow” you. In turn, you can choose to read tweets and updates posted by those whom you choose to follow.
Quick Boot Camp
Here’s how it works. Go to Twitter.com and set up an account, or you can do this when you download the app to your mobile device. The app will prompt you to find people or groups to follow. I follow groups like the Houston Chronicle (to get up to the minute news updates) and Theater Under the Stars (to learn about shows coming to town). I follow people, like friends and family, as well as some celebrities. I’m not saying Lindsay Lohan is on my list, or that she’s not.
Then, start tweeting. If you are verbose (wordy, talkative, long-winded) like me, than this will be good practice on getting to the point quickly. You really must limit all tweets to 140 characters, or they will not be posted. Check this out:
I’m excited to interview next week for the Systems Analyst job @CiscoJobs in #SanFrancisco. #naj #job #SystemsAnalyst
Wait. What just happened? Does this guy have a sticky pound (#) key? Or maybe he’s not the best typist. A few spaces were missed, right? Nope. This is a typical job tweet! Just count the characters…less than 140.
The @ Symbol
You need to know that the “@” symbol is the identifier for a Twitter ID. Your professional ID should be a variation of your name. Remember, just like with your e-mail address, don’t get cutesy when it comes to presenting your professional self in a tweet. So, for example, your personal ID will be @johnxsmith, if your name happens to be John Smith.
Note: When the “@” symbol is added to a series of characters, it serves as a tweet “tag” –tweet speak for alerting, stamping, and notifying. A business like Cisco might have a number of Twitter IDs. This tweet example is one of their recruiting IDs. In this example, we definitely want to tag the recruiting team at Cisco of our tweet. No spaces in the tweet because this would indicate a new word, not a tag. If the person tweeting had tweeted @Cisco space Jobs, this tweet would tag Cisco and not the owner of the CiscoJobs ID. You will know who to tag because these IDs come from the list of companies and individuals you have selected to follow.
The # Hashtag
The “number sign” from our old rotary phones has grown up. It now is a way of applying relevant searchable topics to your tweet. Again, whatever follows a hashtag is a searchable term and should NOT include spaces. Some can be funny, such as #thingsnottodoonafirstdate, but these are not job search appropriate.
To use the hashtag, enter a keyword or two (including the “#” symbol) in the Twitter search box to find related topics. So, in the example above, our Tweeter has hashtagged the location of his job, the job title for which he is interviewing, the words job, and naj (which is Tweet speak for “Need a Job”). This way, if anyone ELSE is searching for any combination of these terms, this tweet and this person’s contact info is now searchable and available to millions of Twitter users, including job recruiters.
Believe me, there are TONS of recruiters on Twitter. Making smart tweets about a positive and active job search can be very beneficial to your job search. People who can tweet and do so smartly are attractive to recruiters, because simply by doing this, they are showing they want to stay relevant and current. These job seekers are creative individuals who look outside the box for their next job opportunity. Don’t you want to be in this group? If so, give it a try.
I suggest you practice tweeting, tagging and hash-tagging with friends and trusted family first. Get some feedback. Get comfortable with it, then start following companies and recruiters. Follow people you know and resources that might have good industry contacts. Watch how people tweet as much as what they tweet. Then, when you feel comfortable using this job search tool, jump in (or should I say chirp in) with your first job tweet. Don’t wait too long…a week or two, max.
Danny Zendejas is the Senior Business Consultant specializing in the Education Industry for Workforce Solutions in the Houston metropolitan area. He has over eight years of experience in workforce development and is a native of San Antonio, Texas.