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Twitter in the Job Search?

December 10th, 2009

I recently read an article (in a newsletter, sorry, no link) about how to use Twitter in a job search. In short, the suggestions were:

  1. Get on Twitter,
  2. Tweet and get your brand out there, and
  3. follow key job people, including coaches, recruiters, etc.

I absolutely, fundamentally disagree.

Not to sound like a pessimist, but the people who usually listen to me are (a) busy, (b) not necessarily early adopters to technology, and (c) busy.  Because of (b) I have to be careful when I recommend any technology.

I’m not opposed to technology, but telling a job seeker to do the three steps above, I think, will give them a false sense of “I’m doing the right thing in my job search!”  I bet I can come up with 20 (non-twitter) activities that are more important than those three steps. I would not put this as a top priority.

But I do tell job seekers to include Twitter as part of their job search strategy.  In a nutshell, I suggest:

  • Use Twitter to find people who you can/should network with.  Best place to do this?  Twellow.comYou don’t have to have a Twitter account to do this.
  • Once you find a key contact, see if they have any lists, or are listed in any lists… if so, look for other key contacts to contact.  You don’t have to have a Twitter account to do this.
  • IF you want to contact people, consider doing it through Twitter.  Now you need to get an account, but you can do this in a way that gets you in front of key people who you are targeting (instead of throwing twitter-mud on the wall).  Be onbrand and realize the purpose of this is to get a discussion with that person, not to do a general branding tweet.

Addressing point 2 above, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to use Twitter as a branding tool – in fact, it has been quite a tool for me.  But I have resources allocated to branding and marketing, and this fits into that.  Job seekers, like I said, could have at least 20 other activities that are more productive.

Addressing point 3 above, I don’t think there is as much value in following recruiters and those posting jobs on Twitter… no offense to @tweetmyjobs and such services, but if you are spending a considerable amount of time looking at job postings anywhere, there is something wrong with your job search.

Active job seekers should be as wary of posted jobs as recruiters are of active job seekers.

(if you didn’t get that last line, read it again – it might be one of the most important sentences I’ve written on this blog, ever)

I would suggest you follow job search coaches, resume writers, etc…. because they will throw out tips and advice… but if you find yourself reading and reading and reading most of the day, I’d tell you to stop your Twitter activity and go do some of the hard stuff in the job search.

Thoughts?

I created Twitter for Job Seekers, a 1 hour 24 minute video on how to use Twitter, Twellow, etc. as a job seeker.  It is priced at $50.  You can get this video, plus Blogging for Job Seekers, Tips from a Recruiter and Social Marketing Strategies for Job Seekers for $99 through Friday.  Oh yeah, you also get 12 months of premium access to JibberJobber.  This is a heck-of-a-deal. Normally all of these would come to $300.  To get all four videos, and 12 months of premium JibberJobber, simply login to JibberJobber.com, click on the upgrade link at the bottom of your screen, and then choose a one year upgrade. We’ll give you access to all four videos right after that.
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21 Responses to “Twitter in the Job Search?”

  1. Jason – I agree that there is no “magic bullet” for job seekers. That is, there is no one thing they all should do that will result in a job. However, I think Twitter is probably one of the best social networks for job seekers and that it is worth asking those uncomfortable with technology to get on board for the upside potential.

    Of course, there are a lot of activities that are useful for job seekers, but very few that offer the chance to connect and directly communicate with the type of broad, open network that Twitter offers.

    Everything done well requires a time commitment and effort. Twitter is no different. Learning how to use it well and efficiently is key. Again, that is true for many things in life!

  2. Jason Alba says:

    @Miriam, thanks for the thoughts.

    My experience, and granted I don’t work with job seekers they way you do, is that there are so many things to do before they get into Twitter – perhaps it’s a more intermediate or advanced tactic… but I think encouraging a job seeker to jump into the Twittersphere too early is just drinking this faddish kool-aid.

    The three points I listed above will, I think, produce very little results. Unless you count “frustration” as a result.

    Twitter powerful in the job search? Sure. But not by just doing those three things.

    I would say a professional would get more value out of using Twellow to find those contacts you are talking about rather then trying to start branding themselves in this weird, noisy space.

    Should job seekers NOT do it? I think they need to have a strong strategy and understanding of what the tool is.

    Maybe what I’m saying is that following those three steps listed above are like saying: “take your resume and hand it out to everyone.” I’m not sure resume writers suggest that… if not, why not? Because the resume is a tool, and it is used in certain ways…

    Anyway, pros and cons, and timing has a lot to do with it…. as well as the technical sophistication and understanding of networking in general…

  3. Right on Jason!

    Twitter is fast becoming yet another internet playground. Giving job seekers the idea they MUST be there is simply bad advice. They DON’T need to be there. At most – its a way for them to take a break from the grind of finding a job and get lost in an overflowing stream of random thoughts, links and rehashed motivational quotes.

    Nice post!

  4. I agree with you Jason that Twitter is not THE answer for people’s job search. However, it can be another tool that contributes to getting to the results they want. The tough part of an effective job search is that there seems to be a hundred things you have to do… and you have to do all of them all the time!

    There are few places like Twitter where you can find as much valuable information, advice, leads, and contacts in one place going by 24/7. It is worthwhile, but it can also be a huge drain on time and effort if it’s not approached strategically.

    I wrote two pieces to help people learn what to do, and not to do on Twitter for their job search:

    “Five Best Ways to Use Twitter for Your Job Search!” ~ http://bit.ly/RSI7e
    and
    “Five Twitter ‘Fails’ for Your Job Search!” ~ http://bit.ly/16DSPD

    …and by the way, I constantly recommend people utilize JibberJobber to keep track and manage those 100 things they need to do for their search! It’s a great tool.

  5. Dennis Smith says:

    sound advice, Jason!

    I think too many jobseekers fail to create/follow strategy for the job search in general (you know that better than anybody)! To throw twitter in the mix is a bit silly and can keep a serious job seeker from doing what they they need to be doing first.

  6. Thanks, Jason! This is spot on – and you are right, this sentence is critical, “Active job seekers should be as wary of posted jobs as recruiters are of active job seekers.” Miriam’s comment is very true. Tools need to be learned and used well. I was at a Chamber meeting, Embracing the Digital Age” and the presenter wrote on Twitter, live, “I had mashed potatoes.” He used that phrase to show misconceptions and misuse of Twitter and now I use “mashed potatoes” with TJ and others whenever we are talking about how not to use Twitter. On the flip side, there are effective ways to use tools and I think Twitter is, as Miriam, says, an excellent networking tool. I wouldn’t know a vast part of my current, growing network without it. Dennis is also correct, job search strategy is key and most job seekers miss that. To see Twitter as a cure-all will not help them at all. Harry and Jerry, good points too!

  7. Excellent points, Jason. Twitter should be only one tool in a job-seekers tool box. As you are, I too am concerned that job-seekers may spend hours reading all the tweets and links, day in and day out, without taking substantive action on their job search.

    Twitter is a great tool for expanding one’s network, gaining exposure for subject matter expertise and a personal brand, and hearing about companies and hiring opportunities, etc. But so is LinkedIn, other social media portals, and many off-line avenues.

    I know we’ll gain some valuable information on how to use it effectively for job search when The Twitter Job Search Guide by Susan Whitcomb, Deb Dib and Chandlee Bryan comes out in March – was honored to contribute some tips as were many of my colleagues (and no doubt you too!).

    Thanks for the reminders, Jason. We need to use these tools wisely.

  8. Hi Jason,
    For me, Twitter has been one of the real surprises over the past year from the standpoint of usefulness. I agree with your strategy (and others) regarding how to use Twitter in a job search, and I think it’s important to use TweetDeck or Seesmic to get control of the Twitter volume.
    The use of hash tags (#) for conferences has become especially valuable – example the recent #socialrecruiting summit in NYC used a hash tag in the title promoting the event! – there was a “Tweet-up” the night before that was very successful.

    In addition to Twellow, TweepSearch, tweepz, and twitterjobsearch.com are great resources.

    Like other social networking tools (Linkedin, Facebook), Twitter can be a be a real asset in building a professional network.

  9. Ari Herzog says:

    Like everything you do in life to reach a goal — from riding a bike to get from point X to point Y, to soaping your body to remove unwanted germs, to vacuuming your carpet to reduce dust and allergens — one should use Twitter as part of an integrated campaign to get a job.

    If you don’t wear the helmet, you risk falling down on the bike. If you don’t bring a lock, you risk someone stealing the bike. If you don’t tote a bottle of water, you get thirsty. The accessories are part of the bike riding experience and no one part makes much sense by itself.

    Similarly, if you use ONLY tweets to get a job, you lose. You need to use other tools in your woodshed, from looking at corporate websites and Facebook pages to asking people you know on sites like LinkedIn about the people you might be interviewed by, for there may be common connections.

    But Twitter by itself? No…unless you’re the type to go bike riding on a mountain without a helmet.

  10. Therese Simonds says:

    I agree with most of what has been written already. LinkedIn is more useful for jobseekers.

    However, I do find it helpful to follow my target companies on Twitter. Lots of company news are posted on Twitter before making it to the corporate website and it is a quick way of staying educated on what is going on. You should check company Twitter accounts while preparing for an interview.

    Lastly, Social Media should never replace Face to Face networking.

  11. Shane Smith says:

    Twitter is another social media tool. Should you follow companies you would want to work with and thought leaders, sure. But if what they say is true, “80% of all jobs are found via networking” ……and you’re trying to reach the CEO or President, will you really find them on Twitter doing tweets? Who knows were social media is going, (we know north) but seriously, of the millions of the jobs posted online annually, what percentage of all job seekers landed a job via Twitter? Now, if you’re a social media expert looking for a job, then by all means, tweet on and build that brand! But I agree with Jason, there can be more effective things to do in your job search.

    99 percent of all independent enterprises in the country employ fewer than 500 people. http://economics.about.com/od/smallbigbusiness/a/us_business.htm
    And what percentages of these small businesses are on Twitter, Face book or LinkedIn?

  12. I couldn’t agree with you more Jason. I think Twitter is a valuable tool for promoting your own business or developing your own brand but when it comes to finding a job there is nothing like live networking to penetrate the hidden job market (where 80% of jobs are secured). This isn’t to say that social media doesn’t have its place. Linkedin can be a great way to expand your network as long as you take it into the realm of the real world. But if a job seeker is spending more than 10% of his time on the computer then he isn’t running his search properly. So forget tweeting and start meeting or you’re never going to get where you want to go.

  13. Jason,
    I agree – I have not signed up for Tweets on my phone or LinkedIn!
    I barely have the time to read the majority of emails I get, let alone the quick “thoughts” from everyone and their brother!
    No Tweets for me!
    ~ Your buddy in NJ
    Jayne

  14. Karin H says:

    Hi Jason

    Synchronicity again here I think. Only yesterday I replies to a tweet from one of my Twitter contacts (Greg DeVore of Blue Mango, co-creator of ScreenSteps Desktop ScreenSteps Live) who asked:

    “So, if you are looking for a social media marketer should you require that they send their resume in with 140 characters or less?”
    to which I replied:

    “re resume in 140 characters. Would you hire someone like that? Would you base it on creativity or lean but mean ;-) ?”

    “Creativity and brevity” came the reply.

    Which brings me to the question: would anyone looking for an employee use Twitter to hire? Is creativity in brevity enough for an important decision like this? Would iy even count as a proper first introduction?

    Perhaps we are mistaken and will the future prove us all wrong, but IMHO 140 characters to build a first impression is never enough to establish a relationship like that – no matter how creative one can write his resume in 140 characters.

    Short is not always simple ;-)

    Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

  15. Jason – Thanks for your insights and creating a space for spirited discussion. And to those who’ve posted, thanks for your insightful input.

    I agree that Twitter is not the universal panacea for job search. It is, however, a revolutionary (I don’t use that word lightly) tool. For the first time, job seekers don’t need “permission” to “eavesdrop” on conversations and reach out to create relationships without a formal introduction. Networking will never be the same.

    Yes, Twitter can be noisy…and yet Lists can remedy that. Job seekers can create private lists to follow target companies, networking contacts, and other influencers so their stream is on-target.

    Yes, it can be a time-trap…and yet a focused strategy can put that in check (Chandlee, Deb, and I propose a 15-minute a day strategy).

    Yes, job seekers can get sucked into chasing job postings…and yet the advantages of services like TweetMyJobs.com that allow job seekers to get fresh, position- and geographic-specific jobs sent to their cell phones is hard to beat.

    Yes, job seekers should be meeting face-to-face with decision-makers and influencers…and Twitter can facilitate opening up those relationships. It can also help confirm a candidate as the top pick.

    In the process of writing The Twitter Job Search Guide, we spoke with job seekers who used diverse approaches to Twitter to land jobs: one candidate submitted his Twitter stream as his writing sample. Others were hired on the basis of the comments and questions posted through Twitter status updates. Others, after applying directly for positions through Twitter leads.

    And then there’s the amazing story that Mark Stelzner, founder of #JobAngels describes in his foreward to our book…he met a job seeker in the Chicago airport because he saw the “follow me on Twitter” sticker on the job seeker’s laptop. They exchanged tweets, which led to coffee, which led to conversation, which led to a job offer just 10 minutes from the job seeker’s home.

    Is Twitter the right tool for everyone? No–if you’re an engineer with a security clearance, you probably won’t be using Twitter as a primary strategy. Can Twitter be an incredibly powerful tool for many? Yes.

    The more we, as career professionals (and committed job seekers, as I know there are some who devotedly read your helpful posts) guide the BEST PRACTICES for using Twitter in job search, the less frustration job seekers will have. And I’m grateful that the people who have commented here are paving the way for those best practices. I’m honored to be part of the community. =)

  16. Jason Alba says:

    Loving the discussion. Here’s a comment from LinkedIn (I posted this as a Question on LinkedIn – great conversation there, also), from Jacqueline Borer (yes, she gave me permission to post this here):

    “As a business owner and long-time employer I like to see someone take a little more initiative when looking for a job than just using online resources. Don’t get me wrong, Career Builder and social media websites are great tools, but they are just tools and should not replace picking up the phone and calling prospective employers or going to see them in person. It says a lot about a person when they have the guts to call a company looking for employment, and it shows initiative. I would take the person who called over the person who sent an electronic resume and never followed up.”

  17. Hi Jason,

    As always, you’ve given us more great food for thought. I agree that Twitter should not be a replacement for traditional job search techniques and tactics, but I also think that Twitter offers job seekers an unparalleled opportunity to expand their personal and professional networks quickly and organically–it also offers a fundamental opportunity to improve communication skills.

    In the course of doing research for the Twitter Job Search Guide, Deb Dib, Susan Whitcomb and I connected with job seekers across the globe who had found leads and landed jobs through Twitter…I also spent two days at the Twitter 140 conference where I learned how Twitter has streamlined communications between high school principals and parents, eased crises in the Middle East through providing rapid access to public information, and cut out the “middle” step in making connections between journalists and public figures. Through Twitter, I’ve been able to gain access to c-level executives within 72 hours or less, resolve customer service issues–and arrange spontaneous meetings in different cities. (I even scored a free ticket to see U2 at the Rose Bowl.)

    While all of these things are cool, I think there are two essentials in particular that Twitter offers job seekers that shouldn’t be overlooked:

    1. Breathing room to expand your network. Twitter makes Facebook and LinkedIn look like a tight pair of jeans–the connection has to fit before you can use the network. You can join group discussions but you can’t connect as friends or “connections” unless the other person initiates or approves the relationship. But Twitter is different. Since most users don’t block their status updates, you can connect with–and learn from–complete strangers all over the world–and search for people to connect with in your field. That’s pretty powerful. If I need to get in touch with Canadians on how to write a proper resume/CV for a job in Montreal, I know I can get this information within a few hours. Before Twitter this may have taken days–even with an extensive LinkedIn and Facebook network.

    2. Twitter helps you become a better writer. I’ve struggled to convey my ideas in fewer words for years. Twitter makes me do it in 140 characters or less. I can feel my writing skills improve. But more importantly, I am better able to write in sound bites and to convey concepts quickly. And given that most employers prefer a short concise explanation to a long and rambling one, Twitter is great practice for corporate communications and resume writing.

    Tip: Twitter Co-Founder Don Sagolla recently published a great book which provides tips on how to write well for new media. The title? 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form.

    These are my quick thoughts on unique value adds. Thanks again for a provocative post and I look forward to watching the continuing debate.

    All the Best,
    Chandlee

  18. Mark Harmel says:

    I’ve both found and followed up with a number of contacts where I’ve made a first connection on Twitter. It all depends if you are comfortable being active on the service and have a bond with others on the list as well.

    If it’s the right space for you, Twitter is a great way to connect with others that you want to meet or work with.

  19. [...] Twitter in the Job Search? – JibberJobber [...]

  20. [...]  It is a great testimony of the power of using tools you have at your fingertips.  Check out my Twitter for Job Seekers recording to help you get value out of [...]

  21. Thea Kelley says:

    Jason, I wonder what your thoughts are on this now, three years later?

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