How to Get a Great Job Using Twitter

By Tuesday, March 27, 2012 Blog 6 Comments

Twitter works.

How do I know? The senior visual designer I work with, Kenneth James Hamer, got his job through Twitter. Five recent high quality applicants I had for an interaction designer position came through the channel in a time where interaction designers are in high demand.

How hard is it finding a job through Twitter? It’s not. You don’t have to be clever. You don’t have to tweet ten times a day. You just have to listen and pick your spots.

For Kenneth, it started with a single message after several informal conversations.

“Hey, could you look at my resume? I want to get your opinion about it.”

He didn’t ask about a job — he asked what I thought of his resume. Kenneth knew that I was hiring freelancers for other work at the time (he did his research), and he worked at building a relationship that included several Skype calls. He understood that the results might not be right away. We were just having a conversation anyway.

Several months passed, and now he’s working at Jobvite.

Twitter works.

Here’s how you can make it work for you.

Do your research.

Twitter is a flood of information; what you want to do is turn it into a manageable stream.

Watch your feed and start a list of people that you enjoy reading. I literally call mine “Stuff I Follow.” People you follow might post a relevant article, sage advice about a career, a funny comment or even a job posting. Favorite posts and add them to your own personal lists. Pare down the list so it’s at a pace that can be browsed comfortably in a few minutes.

There are several tools that help you manage that flood. TweetDeck is my favorite because it allows me to filter my feeds by certain search terms. Flipboard has an amazing social client that helps you read through tweets.

Next, understand whom you’re following. LinkedIn is a great resource for this, and all it takes is a simple name search. Then, not only do you get to know the person’s professional background, but also if the person is approachable. The main thing is to identify that the users are ones who can help you make a job connection.

Find people who have the right audience.

Find people that tweet articles about your industry and start following them. Target users that have between 500 and 5,000 followers and over 5,000 tweets. Not only do they have a great audience, but also they’re very experienced with the platform and can show you the ropes, if you listen. Most people in that range not only engage but also encourage conversation with their audience.

The best way to find content is to search for hashtags. These are keywords that are used to find categorized content on Twitter. Most job categories have most hashtags defined for them. Additionally, people will include hashtags for specialized tweets (Job postings will carry the #jobs or #careers hashtag, for example). There are also hashtags for Human Resources (#hr), Java developers (#java), Marketers (#marketing), Social Media (#socialmedia) and more.

But there’s a catch. Most of those job postings are a) posted by automated bots and b) don’t carry the cache of a personal referral. Those probably won’t get you hired, but it shows who’s hiring.

Another place to look is people that have several lists of Twitter users. I have 15 lists that categorize User Experience professionals by geographic region. Several Twitter users are subscribing to these lists.

Start a genuine conversation.

True engagement begins with a one-on-one conversation. It might be a comment about something posted or a straight direct message asking for tips or advice.

People love to talk, and conversations on Twitter are short, personal communications. You can start a conversation with, “I consider you an industry expert. Can I get your opinion on this?” Nothing works better than flattery.

The key is starting a real conversation that has banter that can become a personal acquaintance. You want to develop a sense of trust that will extend the Twitter conversation to a professional relationship.

Twitter is a great personal branding platform. If you acknowledge the other party’s brand, that person becomes very approachable.

Turn yourself into an employee referral.

Remember that your ideal audience includes recruiters. Many companies that are hiring use Jobvite and Twitter to advertise and track applicants. People that use Twitter are open to referrals on the network, because they understand that the platform is a great place to grow professional contacts. And they’ll remember someone much more if they’ve had previous conversations with you.

Those that engage become employee referrals – like my friend Kenneth.

“Our own employees are some of our best recruiters,” said Janet Van Huysse, vice president of human resources at Twitter. The company has hundreds of employees on their own social network, in essence, turning all of them into “employee recruiters” interested in bringing great resources into their organization.

Our CEO, Dan Finnigan, presented at SXSW a few weeks ago and indicated in his presentation that even though seven percent of the people that apply for jobs are employee referrals, the hire rate is 40 percent of the candidates.

That’s huge.

Employees will prep you, as the job seeker, on interviews, giving you an added advantage. It’s stacking the deck in your favor.

What to do now?

Join Twitter and embrace the conversation. The investment will pay off.

Patrick Neeman is the Jobvite’s Director of User Experience. His previous experience includes working with startups to launch their products, User Experience and Social Media consulting with Microsoft, and managing a team of 25 User Experience professionals for a technology consultancy. He also runs a blog, Usability Counts, that covers topics such as User Experience, Social Media, and Web Marketing.

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