Twitter can be a handy tool for job hunting, but it's about a lot more than tweeting: "Will work for food. Hire me!" To find a job in 140 characters or less, you need a little more finesse. We pressed Susan Britton Whitcomb, Deb Dib, and Chandlee Bryan, authors of "The Twitter Job Search Guide: Find a Job and Advance Your Career in Just 15 Minutes a Day
" for a crash course in how to tweet in a way that pays.
1. Start Your "Hire Me" Campaign With Your Own Branded Message
Before you tweet "@SteveJobs, I hear you need a new CEO?" you first need to identify who you are and fill in your Twitter biography accordingly. Without this basic mission statement, the career experts advise, you look lazy, clueless and, well, like you don't know what you want. Note to the wordy: Twitter messages cap at 140 characters, with Twitter bios it's barely longer than 160, so brevity is key.
Dib suggests you focus on "confident yet humble wording," as you craft your short and to-the-point professional mission statement. First, she says, write down three words to describe you overall, then add something what makes you truly unique, a major career accomplishment, and your main professional goal.
Consider this Twitter makeover: Instead of "PR fab, world traveler, fashion lover, future New York City resident, big dreamer, professional mosh pitter," your revised bio would read: "The Go-to PR Gal to the stars and major corporations. Once sat on a PRSSA panel with a football star and got more PR for him than ever before."
Or take Peter Shankman
as an example. The founder of Help a Reporter
(HARO), the media industry's expert source finder, presents himself as an enviable combo of versatile and reliable: "I travel 300,000 miles per year. I run HARO. People say I'm knowledgeable about social media. You judge." His Twitter moniker, SkyDiver, also comes with matching photo of him jumping out of a plane, and shows a genuine sense of humor -- another career hunting plus.
2. Set Your Tone and Stick to It
"If you're using Twitter to job hunt, you need to create your own specific branded message that makes you stand out," notes Whitcomb. Know what you want to talk about and what you don't. People will follow your tweets and click through to your website if they like what you stand for, she adds.
But remember etiquette: Potential employers will be reading your tweets, and the Library of Congress is now archiving Twitter feeds – including everyone from Ashton Kutcher to YOU. "What you say will be memorialized forever," says Whitcomb, "so you need to stay on message and be appropriate. Aim to keep your ratio 75 percent professional, 25 percent personal." In other words: Don't tweet that your current boss is a jerk, and don't be like Aimee Mann and Ice-T
(or any of these 10 celebrities
) having a public and embarrassing war of words. Your brilliant quips are not worth the time spent unemployed.
3. Identify Your Targets and Start Following Them
Now that you know who you are and what you want to say, find the people you hope to meet, network with and ultimately work for. "Identify your professional targets and start following them," says Whitcomb. "Be very specific."
Just as you would within any search engine, Bryan suggests you "treasure hunt" within Twitter's engine, using industry buzzwords and simple search keywords -- like the name of your goal industry. Search within Twitter by company name, and find contacts within those companies, then start following all of them. Check out the related companies they reference and follow those, too. In addition to individuals, try to identify the recruiters within your desired industry. For example, if you want to work as a DJ, don't only hunt for "music" – also look for specific terms like "electronica" or "DJ" or "remix," and look for tastemakers within the industry, like promotion firm @GiantStep or @GiantStepDJ, see who they follow, and then follow them. Lurk a little and just read what they're saying, and start reading the links they refer to. Websites like tweetmyjobs.com and twitterjobsearch.com can help point you in the right direction.
4. Push Your Message Using #hashtags
Once you start sharing interesting news in your field, retweeting (RT) your friend's news bites, or even occasionally, nicely, announcing to your friends that you're looking for work, you'll find that the best passive tool to help people find you is the hashtag (#). It's not just the pound sign: # signifies the start of a search word, so anyone hunting for those key terms could see it in their list of tweets on that topic.
Whitcomb points out one success story, where an executive assistant in Charlotte, NC, was networking away, but ultimately, a recruiter found her because she used hashtags that made her findable. Once a month, in addition to regular discussions with friends and colleagues on Twitter, the woman also posted a few simple goal-oriented tweets, including:
"Looking to leverage my awesome #transportation #trucking #logistics & #supplychain tweets to find #employment in #Charlotte NC. Suggestions?"
The combination of search terms and persistence paid off: A recruiter clicked through to her LinkedIn profile to request an interview, and six weeks later, she had a new, better job.
5. Engage Actively: If You Build Community, Help Will Come
But it won't come if you set out demanding help, without contributing anything in return. "Send tweets that position you as a thought leader," notes Whitcomb. "Send tweets that will be helpful to your audience of friends, colleagues and potential hiring managers. Give, Give, Get. Don't just ask for help, be a part of the community."
In other words, just as you would offline, you need to earn respect and rewards. Job hunting, whether on Twitter or offline, is just like dating – it takes time to build a relationship.
Stephanie Jo Klein works both in the #musicbiz for the legendary New Music Seminar and is also a New York–based #freelance #writer whose byline has appeared in the New York Post, Glamour, TV Guide and Fortune Small Business. She is currently using Twitter to find new music and a #nice #Jewish #boy.