How To Tweet Your Way To A New Job
by Deborah L. Jacobs, Forbes Staff
After getting fired in October from the high-tech startup where he had worked for more than four years Joshua Filgate, a 27-year-old engineer in Southborough, Mass., took the usual steps to jump start his job search. He updated his resume and his LinkedIn profile; applied for 100 positions listed on Internet job sites, and let family, friends and former co-workers know he was out of work. Within a week one contact — a venture capitalist in the Boston area — sent him a text message with the name of another venture capitalist who he recommended Filgate follow on Twitter. This was someone who Filgate’s friend also followed, but did not know personally.
Filgate, who had never used Twitter before, followed the suggestion. Soon after, the venture capitalist, a partner at the Boston firm General Catalyst, tweeted:
“What are top recruitment firms for mechanical engineers, process engineers, materials scientists, manufacturing engineers?”
With that, the correspondence shifted to e-mail. The VC suggested Filgate submit his resume to the human resources department of ARC-Energy, a Nashua, N.H.-based clean-tech startup, and copy him on the e-mail. Coincidentally Filgate had applied there two weeks earlier in response to a listing on Monster.com and not heard back. This time he landed an interview and got an offer four days later to work as a systems engineer earning 5% more than he made in his last job. Total elapsed time since the layoff: less than three weeks.
Was this a case of beginner’s luck, or simply being in the right place at the right time? Maybe a little of each. But more importantly, Filgate turned Twitter, most often used for lighthearted social banter, into a valuable networking tool. That’s no small achievement considering the 140-character space constraints. And of course, the person you’re networking with must also be on Twitter.
For those who would also like to use Twitter in their job hunt, Forbes asked Nisa Chitakasem, co-author of the book “125 Twitter Job Search Tips” to compile a quick-start guide. Here’s her advice for Twitter neophytes and enthusiasts:
Make your bio count. Use your bio to explain what you want out of your next career move and what value you will bring to your next employer. For example: “As a senior marketing executive with over 15 years’ experience in the sector, I’m currently looking for an interim position in X type of organization.”
Upload a headshot. A close-up of your face conveys authenticity and inspires people to trust you. If you crop the photo using Twitter’s built-in feature, be careful not to cut off the wrong part. You want people to be able to see your whole face in the avatar, not just the bottom of it.
Cast a wide net. Think expansively about whom to follow. The possibilities include:
- Industry experts or bloggers in your field
- Job boards and job sites
- News alerts and industry magazines
- Career experts and career coaches
- Head hunters and recruiters
- Professional networks and alumni associations
- Human resources personnel who are hiring for the position you are targeting.
Follow potential employers. Watch for announcements about events that can lead to jobs. For instance, if a business gets new funding, ships a new product or launches in a new location or region, it’s a sign that it may be actively recruiting.
Monitor job site streams. Regularly check the accounts of the job sites you’re following. They’ll often tweet links to vacancies as soon as they open up.
Target key people. You never know which one of them will directly or indirectly lead you to a potential hirer. Meanwhile, each new connection can help you learn about the industry, understand a company or offer insights about what it’s like to work there. In using Twitter, think about all of these angles.
Tweet regularly. Aim to tweet at least a few times every day. If you tweet less often, you’ll find it harder to build relationships with your followers and will lose the momentum of Twitter as a job search tool.
Keep tweets professional. They don’t all have to be specifically about your job hunt, but they should be professional. Make them related to your field of work, area of interest or the kind of thing you’re looking for next in your career.
Be a thought leader. Share insights and opinions that demonstrate your knowledge and that can build your reputation as a go-to person for your field.