Can a tweet—or three—land you a dream job?
That's a question Taylor Aldredge now feels qualified to answer. Aldredge contends that Twitter did what job portals failed to do: open the door to leapfrog into a company he loves.
Before Aldredge became ambassador of Buzz at Grasshopper, a virtual phone system for small businesses, he spent two years at CollegeWeekLive working in events and digital media. When it was time for a change, Aldredge skipped the more traditional route of trawling job boards. "They feel like the black hole of human resources," he tells Fast Company.
Instead, he connected with 10 people in his Twitter network who he believed were "killing it" in marketing and landed a few informational interviews. "I think they accepted my request because I always engaged with their tweets and offered any insight I had," he explains. "It’s the easiest way to network directly with people you don’t know very well." After a couple of recommendations and a series of interviews, Aldredge landed the job at Grasshopper.
Skeptics may argue that 140 characters isn’t enough to post a complete thought, much less a proper introduction to a potential employer. In a time when three out of four workers say they’re in constant job-seeking mode and most resumes barely command six seconds of attention (unless you try these subtle ways to set yours apart), taking a couple of minutes to tap out a thoughtful tweet could open the door to a new career.
According to a recent survey by Jobvite, Twitter’s now used by nearly half of the workforce—46% versus 37% in 2011—to look for jobs. And those seekers are almost twice as likely to have found their "favorite-ever" job on Twitter.
So how can you do it?
Don’t Be A Pain In The Ass
"Is Twitter a good tool to pursue a job? Absolutely. Can you come across as a psycho? Absolutely," says Tom Gimbel, founder and CEO of staffing agency LaSalle Network, who works with thousands of hiring managers and nearly 100 in-house recruiters. "There’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pain in the ass," Gimbel adds.
Gimbel says that one of the biggest mistakes job seekers looking to connect with a hiring manager (or CEO, or founder) tend to make on Twitter is to think that their number one priority (landing the job) is also the company’s (filling the position). Gimbel says it’s all about balance. "If you wouldn’t email them four times a day then don’t tweet that much," he advises. "The number one thing you can do is to play the empathy card," Gimbel suggests. By putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, you’ll quickly understand how unlikely it is that someone you’ve never met before is going to make you their number one priority. So you have to come up with a more creative and subtle approach.
Be Creative And Funny (But Not Too Creative And Funny)
Julia Hughan was in the final weeks of completing an honors thesis when a friend suggested she write a blog post about seeking an internship to garner the attention of potential employers. Throughout her last year of school, Hughan also became involved in the Social Melbourne community, growing her network on Twitter. After she wrote the post she plugged it into the social network. "I believe the tweet was: 'Blatant plug! Wanted: #Internship. Please don't make me launch a viral campaign with a banjo and iPad. #sminoz #melb,' and I watched as their networks retweeted it as well," Hughan explains.
Within days, a developer at Deloitte Digital reached out to her via Twitter about coming on board as a social media graduate. Ten days later, Hughan got the job. That was over two years ago but Hughan underscores that creativity was key to attracting attention in the first place. "For the tweet I used humor and made sure to relate the message back to my thesis, which was focused on country music and disruptive technologies," she explains.
Tidy Up That Stream
Your profile is a compilation of who you are, Gimbel maintains, so it’s crazy to not think lines are blurred between your work personality and your off-duty self. "You are opening yourself up to be judged," he says, so make sure your bio and your tweets would be grandma-approved.
Know Which Companies Are Open To Social Media Recruiting
RecruitLoop, an Australian startup recently launched in the U.S., released an infographic about social media recruitment and the organizations that do it best. Some unexpected findings include the fact that though Google may dominate on Twitter, firms such as Boston Consulting Group and Marriott Hotels each have more Facebook likes and Dell's recruitment page has more likes than Facebook's own page, and is by far the most viewed YouTube Company Channel, beating Google's recruitment page, "Life at Google."
Though not in the realm of such global businesses, Aldredge says, "The process by which I got to Grasshopper kind of revealed the approach I take to marketing—word of mouth, building buzz, engaging customers. Grasshopper values this kind of hustle and networking with Twitter." Hughan asserts that Deloitte Digital was also on board with social. "I later found out that even my job interview questions were internally crowdsourced by the firm on Yammer," she says.
Understand How Social Recruiting Happens
"On average, a job posted online receives 219 applications," Robin D. Richards, Chairman and CEO CareerArc Group (parent of TweetMyJobs, Internships.com, and CareerBeam) says. "Recruiters do not have a volume problem, they have a quality problem," says Richards.
Richards believes that most, if not all, tweets that get sent to big companies by job seekers are ignored for three key reasons. First, they are directed to a corporate Twitter account that is managed by marketing rather than HR. Second, 140 characters doesn’t offer the information required by most big companies to enable the candidate to move through the application process. "Finally, they add unnecessary burden to the job of the recruiter who is already buried under the volume of candidates that apply for jobs," Richards explains.
Rather than help candidates tweet directly to companies, CareerArc Group’s TweetMyJobs technology distributes a company’s jobs through nearly 11,000 job channels on Twitter. That’s up from 6,000 when Fast Company reported on the topic in 2009. Each job channel is segmented by geography and job type and each tweet is optimized with relevant hashtags to ensure that only targeted candidates are discovered, Richards explains.
Intrepid tweeters who reach out directly need to remember that recruiters, whether internal or external, look for fit, Richards cautions. And forget tweeting the corporate account. "Research the company, the position, and the recruiter and be sure to follow your tweet up by going through the regular process," Richards points out. "The best way to stand out to a recruiter is to get a referral or introduction from a trusted source," Richards adds. "This improves a job seeker’s chances of successfully landing a job by 20 times."
[Image: Flickr user Jonathan Kos-Read]