My first adventure into the world of Twitter took place earlier this year. I’d always heard the terms “following”, “tweeting”, “retweeting” and “hashtags” banded about, but they had always flown me by (no pun intended), and I never really understood what all the fuss was about.
However, being easily led by my friends, I tentatively logged in, set up an account, and spent most of a Saturday afternoon thinking of a catchy and appropriate Twitter username and what exactly to write as my first tweet. I must admit the thought of “following” actual famous people and what they were up to excited me a little bit, and over the weeks I started to become hooked. I checked my phone for Twitter updates during my commute and in my lunchbreaks, and am ashamed to admit it became such a part of my daily early morning getting-ready-for-my-day ritual, my Twitter feed would be the first thing I would check after my alarm had gone off in the morning…and that was before I had even got out of bed!
It’s now been four months or so since I first started using Twitter. The early morning obsessive checking has waned (a bit) but Twitter has remained very much part of my daily life. You see it’s just so useful! Ok, reading about the lives of famous people can be fun, but in my opinion Twitter’s strength lies in its ability to spread information about a huge range of subjects, and things you are actually interested in reading about. You can “follow” topics of interest (health, education, books, film, sport), charities and causes, the number of topics are endless!
Naturally I have found myself “following” the things and people that interest me, both in my working life and social life. With a background in graduate recruitment, and working in a university supporting students, I have an interest in the world of work, job hunting and what makes people more employable in a competitive working world. This got me thinking. Could Twitter actually help when looking for a job/career? After reading a great article in the Guardian Careers blog (http://careers.guardian.co.uk/careers-blog/job-seeking-twitter-tips) and about to embark on a career/job search of my own I decided to give it a tweet, I mean a whirl.
I decided to approach looking for a job via Twitter in a similar way to using a CV or application form….be professional. I created an account entirely dedicated to the world of work and what I am seeking in my career (this meant resisting the temptation to tell a joke I heard that day or talking about what I was going to eat for dinner that night). I added a “Bio” (a short bit of text 160 characters in length), and without adding any personal details, described a bit about my background and what I was interested in doing in terms of work. Once my profile was set up, I started to “follow” organisations and people related to the sectors and areas of work that interested me. I started tweeting news items or articles from websites, related to my sectors of interest, which other people in these sectors may have found interesting to read. There is a huge range of Twitter accounts related to all things careers; blogs, careers coaches, job boards, university careers services, as well as companies and organisations of interest. The list goes on!
I found that after only a short amount of time, my tweets and “retweets” (the Twitter equivalent of liking or approving of something someone else has posted), my own comments and opinions, and the sheer fact I was following people/companies/topics/causes, meant that I was being “followed” in return. This is not as dodgy as it sounds. For those not entirely up to scratch on how Twitter works, someone “following” you essentially means that whatever you tweet will be seen in their newsfeed when they log in. It’s another way of saying “I’m interested in what you have got to say”.
Twitter can be very public, and whatever you post can essentially be seen by anyone with an internet connection. Also, anyone can “follow” you, not just friends. It took me a while to get my head round this aspect, but, again, I think this is one of the strengths of Twitter. I view Twitter almost as a virtual way of meeting people and networking. You do this face to face with people you may not know, so why not online (whilst using the obvious online precautions of not giving out personal details etc, see Twitter guidelines for use and online safety etc).
So is Twitter useful when it comes to job hunting? Within a month of setting up my job hunting account, I have over 100 “followers”. Some are a random mix but others very much related to the areas I want to pursue my career. I’ve been messaged to ask what work I am interested in, found out about relevant careers events to attend and even found out about a job for which I was interested in applying.
Whilst I haven’t secured a job directly through Twitter (yet), as an ex-recruiter I don’t think it’s value can be underestimated in terms of finding leads, contacting people and organisations you may want to work for. You can keep up to date with what’s happening in the industry, and can see what types of events, activities and job opportunities are happening out there. You may choose to “follow” Twitter accounts that simply post vacancies, or find interesting articles on careers advice, application and interview processes, or actually engage with people in professional and constructive conversations who you may not usually come into contact with. I personally am starting to see how Twitter could work hand in hand with a range of more traditional job hunting techniques. Who knows where tweeting my lead me?
Sarah, tweeter & jobhunter